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Is It Okay to Complain Against God?

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Have you ever been angry and disappointed with God, or questioned His goodness in the midst of deep and dark struggles? Have you ever been so disappointed with God’s response to your prayers that you wanted to give Him a piece of your mind? After all, He knows our weaknesses and is big enough to take it, right? But, does God understanding us give us the right to complain against Him? Moreover, can it ever be proper to complain against our Creator? Let’s see…

He Hears Our Cries

God is good. “His work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4). “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14). And in the end, “He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity” (Psalm 98:9). And from His love and care for His children, He calls us to cast all our cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). To Him we may cry in our troubles: “Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy” (Psalm 64:1). “I pour out my complaint before Him; I tell my trouble before Him” (Psalm 142:2). God welcomes our cries for help and understanding. He responds with great compassion to our needs and weaknesses:

Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

Asking the Right Question

Our question, then, does not concern our freedom to cast our cares upon God or to bring to Him our cries and complaints, for Christ purchased for us that marvelous privilege. Our question concerns the right to complain against God, or to question His wisdom, goodness, or righteousness in His governing the affairs of the world and our personal circumstances. Put another way, can we as created, sustained, and dependent on God for all things complain against a God of perfect power and goodness, who always acts in perfect righteousness, who always desires the best for His people? Or, can finite and fallen people sit in judgment over the source and standard of all righteousness?

Have You Considered Job?

To answer our question, we turn to Job. After all, if anyone had the right to complain against God it was Job. Used by God as an example to His adversary the Devil, Job suffered because He was righteous. And suffer he did, with great personal loss and intense, prolonged physical suffering.

Early in his agony, Job did well in accepting God’s rule and righteousness: “Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God? If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times” (Job 9:2-3). But, time and pain wore on. And as we all know how our physical suffering challenges our spiritual demeanor, so Job eventually resorted to criticizing God for causing and ignoring his plight. He sought an audience with God to argue his case against Him. 

Does it seem good to you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands and favor the designs of the wicked? Have you eyes of flesh? Do you see as man sees? Are your days as the days of man, or your years as a man's years, that you seek out my iniquity and search for my sin, although you know that I am not guilty, and there is none to deliver out of your hand? Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether (Job 10:3-8).

Job’s complaints not only increased as his suffering lingered, he turned to questioning the righteousness, knowledge, and goodness of God. He even went so far as to imply that God favored the wicked! But was Job right in this? And even if he was not, would God not grant Job the right to his accusations given the depth of Job’s agony and his ignorance of the cause of his suffering?

Job Goes to School

At long last, however, God answered Job, but not in a manner he or we might have expected. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:1-4). After two more chapters of God schooling Job on the proper attitude toward one’s Creator, God gets to the heart of the matter.

‘Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.’  Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.’ Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?’ (Job 40:2-8).

Ouch. Couldn’t God have gone easy on poor Job? After all, Job’s suffering was extreme and he suffered because he was righteous. Perhaps no one, before or after Job, had better cause to complain against God. Satan had insulted Job and God by attributing Job’s righteousness to mere pragmatic selfishness. Job loved God for what he could get and nothing more, went Satan’s argument. Thus, to prove Satan wrong, Job suffered. But Job was oblivious to this. Wouldn’t that justify Job’s complaint against God just a little bit? Apparently not.

God’s Greater Purpose

God was educating angels and every soul who would read of Job’s experience (Job 1:6-2:7). Job knew nothing of his role as God’s spiritual object lesson, but as created by a God of perfect righteousness who had greater purposes than he understood, Job had no right to question the goodness or righteousness of God. Nor do we. In the end, Job learned his lesson. 

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6).

God proceeded to bless Job more in the end than prior to his suffering. What’s more, Job now has all of eternity to bask in the infinite blessings of God, while saints yet to arrive in glory learn eternal lessons from his relatively short life and suffering. God answered Job and we reap the benefits. 

Job’s Lesson for Us

God, however, does not always confront our complaints as He did with Job. Sometimes He puts up with our foolishness for a time or until we learn our lesson the hard way. But, God’s patience toward our tantrums is not approval. God bears with a great many things in His beloved children, just as He is slow to reveal His wrath toward a blaspheming world. He is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). Yet, anger or complaints against God are never justified, however patient God may be with us. What legitimate charge can created and fallen people bring against a God of perfect righteousness? We do best to trust His perfect character, even as we cry out to Him in our troubles. Our good and loving God will always do what is right. —Adapted from Craig Biehl, God the Reason: How Infinite Excellence Gives Unbreakable Faith, Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Cultural Issues

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