John Flavel, the Puritan pastor, helps us get past our complaining when we find it hard to obey Christ. He re-creates in his theological imagination the conversation between the Father and the Son in eternity past, when the Son accepted hard obedience for us:
“Father: My Son, here is a company of poor miserable souls that have utterly undone themselves and now lie open to my justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them. What shall be done for these souls?
Son: O my Father, such is my love to and pity for them that, rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety. Bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee. Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them. At my hand shalt thou require it. I will rather choose to suffer thy wrath than they should suffer it. Upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.
Father: But my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite [cent]. Expect no abatements [discounts]. If I spare them, I will not spare thee.
Son: Content, Father. Let it be so. Charge it all upon me. I am able to discharge it. And though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures, yet I am content to undertake it.”
Then Flavel makes his point: “Blush, ungrateful believers. O let shame cover your faces. Judge in yourselves now, hath Christ deserved that you should stand with him for trifles, that you should shrink at a few petty difficulties and complain, ‘This is hard, and that is harsh’? O if you knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in this his wonderful condescension to you, you could not do it.”
John Flavel, Works (London, 1820), I:61.
Grace defeats complaining.