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Allowing a Complaining Spirit to Make Itself at Home

The heart drifts toward complaint as if by gravitational pull—after all, complaint seems a reasonable response to a sequence of disappointing events. Generally, you don't have to extend an invitation for complaint to show up. It arrives as an uninvited guest. You return home from yet another frustrating day to discover that complaint has moved into your guest room, unpacked its luggage, started a load of laundry, and is rooting through your fridge. Even as you seek to dislodge complaint—as you move its bags to the curb and change the locks—it crawls back through the guest room window. Complaint resists eviction.

Before we know it, complaint feels right because it is familiar. With every struggle, we become the Israelites murmuring in the desert. We miss the faith lessons. God desires to prepare us and build things into us, but we are hunkered down in our pattern of response. We need to wake up and notice what is happening! How do we evict that spirit of complaint?

We have heard it said that "bad movement pushes out good movement" and "good movement pushes out bad movement." We can discourage complaint's residency in our lives by inviting another guest to move in with us. That new guest is trust. When we choose to trust in the face of deep disappointment, complaint has less space to maneuver. While attempting to unpack for an extended stay, it discovers that trust has taken all the drawers in the guest room and already occupies the empty seat at the table. Trust evicts complaint. Trust and complaint are incompatible roommates. One inevitably pushes the other one out.

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