If you know a few things about Israel’s wilderness years, you know they complained and grumbled more than once. Israel’s grumbling was a terrible sin, because it showed that they doubted God’s providence and promise, it showed their arrogant and covetous hearts, and it showed they didn’t trust God. Paul says we can learn from Israel’s sin: “…And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death” (1 Cor. 10:10 NLT). Paul also said we should do all things without grumbling and arguing (Phil. 2:14).
While talking about God’s providence and sovereign decree, Thomas Boston (d. 1732) listed some notes of application. What does it mean that God sovereignly decrees all things that come to pass, and by his providence is in control of all things? Here’s one application point that has to do with complaining (I’ve slightly updated the language):
“See here the evil of murmuring and complaining at our lot in the world. How quick are you to quarrel with God, as if he were in the wrong when his dealings with you are not according to your own desires and wishes? You demand a reason, and call God to an account, ‘Why am I thus? Why so much afflicted and distressed? Why so long afflicted? And why such an affliction rather than another? Why am I so poor and another so rich?’ Thus your hearts rise up against God
But you should remember, that this is to defame the counsels of infinite wisdom, as if God had not ordered your affairs wisely enough in his eternal counsel. We find the Lord reproving Job for this: ‘shall he that contend with the Lord instruct him?’ (Job 40:2). When you murmur and fret under irritable and afflicting dispensations, this is presuming to instruct God how to deal with you, and to reprove him as if he were in the wrong. Yea, there is a kind of implicit blasphemy in it, as if you had more wisdom and justice to dispose of your lot, and to carve out your own portion in the world. This is the language of such a disposition, ‘Had I been on God’s counsel, I had ordered this matter better; things had not been with me as now they are.’
O presume not to correct the infinite wisdom of God, seeing he has decreed all things most wisely and judiciously.”
To combat sinful complaining, we need to contemplate the sovereign decree and providence of God, and trust that he does all things well. He’s the Potter, we are the clay!
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)