I have always felt sorry for football coaches.
They have to put up with an amazing amount of grumbling from alumni, sportswriters and fans. I like what former Wake Forest football coach Chuck Mills once said. He defined a spectator as a person “who sits 40 rows up in the stands and wonders why a 17-year-old kid can’t hit another 17-year-old kid with a football from 40 yards away … and then (that same spectator) goes out to the parking lot and can’t find his car.”
If you think being a football coach brings out the critics, then just try being a Messiah (some think they’re closely related jobs). Jesus probably had more critics than anyone else in Palestine.
In the 11th chapter of the gospel of Matthew, we read about some of the good things Jesus did. He gave sight to the blind, he healed the crippled and people with leprosy, he restored hearing to the deaf and even brought dead people back to life.
With all those good things some people still complained; all they could say about him was that he was a glutton and wine drinker (Matthew 11:19). Besides that, he was a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts. Others complained he didn’t preach the “old time religion” and sometimes he even was a blasphemer, a liar, and a riot inciter.
We may not complain about Jesus, but all of us have been true complainers at various times. The first step to overcome this problem is to confess our pettiness. Eddie Rickenbacker was once asked what was the biggest lesson he learned from drifting about with his companions in life rafts for 21 days in the Pacific.
“The biggest lesson I learned,” he said, “was that if you have all the fresh water you want to drink and all the food you need to eat, you ought never complain about anything again.”
The second step for complainers is to acknowledge God’s provisions for us. This all hinges on our outlook in the world. When the great Scotsman Robert Bruce was fleeing from his enemies, he took refuge in a cave. By the time his pursuers reached his hideout, a tiny spider had spun a web over the mouth of the cave. His pursuers concluded that Bruce could not be hiding there. After they left, Bruce got down on his knees and thanked God for that spider.
We can always find things to complain about. Most of us have a lot more to be positive about. I notice that people of faith are pretty positive folk. There are so many benefits in the Christian teachings. We can be forgiven when we mess up. Grace is the great pressure relief valve of life. We don’t have to live by performance. God loves us no matter what.
It’s OK to complain for a while but we just can’t live that way when there is so much to be grateful about.
Prayer: Our Lord, lift us from the level of seeing the things to complain about to the level of things to thank you for. Amen
The Rev. Dan Safarik retired as a full-time pastor at St. Luke Methodist Church in Lincoln and now serves part time at St. Mark’s UMC in Lincoln. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.