There was once this man who always complained. There was nothing that could please him and he always found fault in everybody but himself. He complained about his job, family, house, car, gas prices, weather and anything that he could think of. He woke up on Thanksgiving morning to a house filled with noise from family who came to visit and he complained. He smelled the food that was being cooked and he complained. He grumbled when the kids ran to him for a hug because he didn’t want to be bothered. He didn’t see the blessing that was staring him in the face daily because he was too busy complaining. He didn’t read or understand God’s word in Philippians 2:14 that say “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” He didn’t want to spend time with his mom and dad who had flown in for the holidays or his sister and brother-in-law who had driven 10 hours. He didn’t appreciate all of the work his wife had put in making sure the house was together and there was food in the refrigerator. He constantly complained and his complaining was tiring to all those around.
On that night when he laid down to sleep he complained about the smell of the sheets, the lumpiness of the mattress and the feel of the pillow that he slept on every night. When he closed his eyes, he was too stubborn to thank God for keeping him all day long but instead be pulled the cover over his head to go to sleep. In the midst of his night, an angel appeared in his dreams because he couldn’t understand why this man was so harsh and ungrateful. He had all of his family with him and they were healthy, he had food and an appetite to eat, he had strength and blessings that others prayed for daily but he still complained. The angel just couldn’t understand. He was told that when he woke the next morning, all of the things that he complained about would be gone but the angel didn’t think he would mind anyway since he didn’t want them anyway, right? How could he want his blessings with the way he acts every day? But he quickly dismissed this as simply a dream, grumbled, grabbed the covers and rolled back over.
The next morning when he got up, he didn’t hear any noise, he didn’t smell breakfast cooking or the coffee brewing, he didn’t hear kids playing or the sounds of the TV playing, he didn’t hear anything. When he came out of his bedroom and went downstairs the house was completely quiet as if no one lived there but him, it was like his previous life hadn’t existed. There were no pictures of his wife and kids, his parents or his sister and her family, the house was in a mess and he didn’t understand. Surely there had to be an explanation. He got dressed but realized he had no place to go; he had food in the kitchen but no appetite, he had arms but no one to put them around and words to say but no one to say them too. He thought about the dream he had, but scoffed at the idea that it was coming true, it just couldn’t be. He picked up the phone but had no one to call. Maybe they were really tired of him and his complaining; maybe the angel was right after all. What had he done? He sat at the kitchen table and saw a letter, he opened it and it read,
“Dear Mr. Grumbling Complainer,
If you are reading this letter it means that your dream has come true. You complained about your family, so they are no longer here. You complained about your job, so you no longer have one. You complained about the noise you hear, so you can no longer hear it. You complained about your kids hugging you, so you no longer have their hands to feel. This is what you asked for right? Your complaining has caused you to lose all of the things that once meant a lot to you. What happened to the once loving man who would do anything for this family? What happened to the man who use to love the holidays, spending time with his family and being the one to carve the turkey before dinner. Where has he gone? What caused you to be so bitter? I can only pray that you’ll soon wake up to realize all that you’ve lost and come to your senses. Everything that you’ve taken for granted can be given back to you, if you ask but it has to be what you want. When you are ready, call me and I’ll be there to listen.
He bawled the letter up, threw it in the floor and put his head in his hands and he wept. He couldn’t believe the person he had turned into. He couldn’t believe that he had taken his family and his life for granted. He fell down on his knees and he wept. He prayed to God to forgive him for his selfishness. He begged for one more chance to appreciate all that he had been blessed with. He promised that if he could have all the things back that he had taken for granted, he wouldn’t ever overlook his blessings again. He stayed on his knees for what seemed like forever. He kept saying over and over, “Lord, please forgive me for my sins!” He jumped from his sleep, shirt wet from sweating and breathing hard. He immediately ran to the bedroom door and flung it opened and ran down the stairs. Once he got downstairs, he saw his wife in the kitchen with his sister and mom, his brother-in-law and dad were in the living room watching TV and the kids were running and playing. His daughter ran up to him for a hug and this time instead of complaining, he bent down and picked her up into one of the biggest hugs she’d ever had. He went back upstairs and he kneeled down on the side of the bed and he prayed. He prayed, thanked God for all his blessings and promised to never take his family for granted again.
How many times have you complained about the blessings you have? How many things have you taken for granted that you are wishing for now? When you want to complain about your feet think about the person who had to have theirs amputated. When you want to complain about your hands think about the person who is suffering from arthritis and can’t even open a bottle. When you want to complain about your parents think about the children in foster care who are wishing for a family. When you want to complain about the food being served for dinner, think about those digging through garbage cans for their meal. When you complain about having a stuffy nose, think about the folk in ICU and the children going through chemotherapy and radiation. When you are complaining, read 1 Peter 4:9 which says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” When you are being mean read Ephesians 4:29 which say, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Be thankful for what you have and stop wishing for those things you don’t have. You don’t know the struggles others had to endure to get the blessings they have. Be appreciative of the blessings you have and watch God enlarge your territory. Stop complaining and “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).”