The Israelites had been walking and wandering in the wilderness. They had disobeyed God over and again. They didn’t listen to his Word, and they didn’t trust his plan for them. They lacked faith, and they couldn’t just follow him into the promised land. So, he set them to wander. See, these people, the Israelites, have a history of complaining. They have complained about God in the most unexpected times. They complained after He freed them from slavery, crying out “We would be better off in Egypt.” They complained about manna and wanting meat, so God gives them some. They complained about being thirsty and God grants them water from the rock. There has always been this strange relationship between God and His people. He gives everything that is needed, He is gracious and merciful, and instead of thanksgiving, He is met with complaints. He is the Father of whiny, discontent, children. And we might hear about the ungrateful Israelites, thinking how ungrateful they are, compare them to ourselves and look down on them. Yet, we aren’t much different.
When we complain, it is often urged on by the fact that something didn’t go our way. This comes about for a variety of reasons, many to do with our lack of control in situations. We long to be the one calling the shots. If something is not done according to our plan, how we see it going, or up to our standards, we complain. We do not like the fact that we do not get to call the shots. We all know that life isn’t fair, that it rarely goes the way we plan, and that things change and go wrong. So, we complain, we resist, we even fight for our way to prevail. We know best, after all, therefore we should call the shots. So, when things don’t go our way, we take it up with the Big Man upstairs. Our complaints range from minor inconveniences about our day-to-day to complaints that are far more serious and painful. What is grief, but a complaint? The father and mother grieving over a miscarriage is a complaint, a protest, a grievance. Because death is not part of the plan, it is not part of our plan, and well, it is not part of God’s plan. Yet, something must die.
When it comes down to it, we complain a lot… We complain about inconveniences, about people, about life itself, and death. So, if we are going to complain, why not file those with the one who can give and take away? The beauty of God is that although we constantly complain to him, although he tells us one thing and we do another, although we whine like ungrateful children, He hears our complaints. He hears them, and although He has already given us everything we need out of His divine goodness, He gives us more. He hears our complaints of want and need. He hears our grievance against death, and He hears us in the hospital room crying “Why God would you let them die?” And He answers. Yet He does not answer how we want necessarily, or how we expect. No, God answers all our complaints of want, need, pain, and grief through His son. He sends Christ into the world, who willingly walked the road of obedience to his Father, unlike the Israelites, and unlike you and me. Jesus, without complaint, enters the flesh to bring about the kingdom of God. Jesus, without complaint, humiliates himself by becoming human, leaving his heavenly throne to take on the lowly body of a creature. God becoming a man. Christ entering the world as the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, uncomplaining.
He is unlike us who complain at the slightest inconveniences, unlike us who complain at God’s demands and plans for our lives, unlike us who complain even though God has given us all that we have and we act like it isn’t enough, unlike us who deserve death and we file a grievance when it comes. The very breath in our lungs is a gift and we use it to complain. We always want more, we want to be in control, we want to be the one calling the shots, and since we cannot do what we were created to do without complaining, God sent His Son to do so for us. Christ comes without complaint, willingly obeying the Father, obeying His every beckon and call, obeying Him into rejection and to a trial, obeying the Father that lands him beneath the lash, obeying the Father to the anguish of the cross, and when death comes knocking at the door, He does not file a grievance but instead He enters its cold embrace.
This is the kind of Christ we have. The kind of Christ who is rejected by His people and offers them forgiveness. The kind of Christ who dies for those who hate Him. The kind of Christ who goes uncomplaining to a horrible painful death for whiny, ungrateful, complaining sinners like us. The kind of Christ who gives us life amidst death. Christ does what we cannot do, and all this He gladly suffers, for you.