Cursing The Darkness

December 7, 2023
Volume 27, Number 33

26 years ago a new holiday was born. On an episode of the “Seinfield” show, fictional character Frank Costanza reminisced about “Festivus”, an odd celebration from his younger years. One of the features of Festivus was “An Airing of Grievances”.

Seinfield fans have taken up the mythical holiday, and each year “An Airing Of Grievances” is observed in various places. This year the Tampa Bay (FL) Times is offering to print the funniest submissions from people all over the world.

To prime the pump, some of the better submissions from past years have been reprinted. One person complained about the thinness of the plastic used in water bottles. Another griped about coworkers leaving time on the breakroom microwave instead of clearing it for the next user. Another went on about people who don’t return their shopping carts to the right place.

If we’re honest we’ll have to admit that we each have our own grievances about life’s everyday annoyances (like slow drivers who refuse to move over into the right lane!). This Festivus tradition is for fun, but what if airing grievances is our norm instead of a once-a-year event?

In 1 Corinthians 10:10 we find this warning: “Nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” Paul likely had in mind the occasion when the spies gave their report of the Promised Land. It’s a great place to live, they all agreed, but it would be impossible for us to conquer. The residents are too big, and their cities are too fortified.

Numbers 14 tells us that the people responded with these words: “Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:3). At the heart of their grievance was unbelief. Yes, God had promised to give them the Promised Land. But not even God can do that, they thought.

Philippians 2:14 sets a higher standard for today’s people of faith (Christians): “Do all things without complaining and disputing.” That’s a challenge! We live in a world of complaints and grievances, and our media and opinion leaders commonly voice such discontent. No wonder Christians often fall into the trap of fixating on all of the bad that surrounds us.

We are to be a light to this dark world: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Could we classify positive speech as a “good work”? By finding reasons to be positive in this negative world, we’ll be showing our neighbors a better way to live. The difference will be noted, and they will see value in our faith.

William L. Watkinson had the right idea in 1907 when he wrote, “It is far better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Which will we choose: to curse the darkness, or to light a candle?


Copyright, 2023, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

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