“I don’t understand!” How many times have you said or thought that, maybe even in the form of a complaint? Perhaps it was concerning the chaos that continues to swirl around our society. Maybe you’ve thought that as a parent, tried to reason through some foolish things your children do. It might have been when the coach or manager of your favorite sports team made a mind-boggling decision.
Other things we struggle to understand include: Why people in their prime of life, with so much to offer to others, contract life-threatening diseases, or even die. Why seemingly good people endure terrible calamities.
Why the weather seems so fickle and unpredictable; we might want to cast blame on climate change or global warming, but weather has always been fickle and unpredictable.
The list could go on, but we live each day in a world when there’s so much we don’t understand – and never will. Does mean that we should stop living, cease moving forward until we can finally comprehend whatever is puzzling us? Of course not.
What if we waited to board a jet until we possessed a full understanding about how it can fly, weighing many tons itself and transporting many more tons in terms of people, luggage and cargo? Most of us would be stuck forever in the terminal or on the tarmac.
How about electricity – do you fully grasp all that’s involved scientifically in the simple act of flipping a light switch and illuminating a dark room, or turning the switch off to eliminate the light? Most of us don’t, but that doesn’t force us to spend our evenings in darkened rooms and risk tripping over furniture.
Our automobiles are increasingly complex. One service department technician told me that motor vehicles these days are essentially computers on wheels. During my lifetime as a driver, I’m seen advances from having a starter on the floorboard to inserting a key into the ignition to simply pressing a button to start the car. I have no clue how those advances were accomplished, but I’m going to leave my SUV in the garage until I figure them out.
Why then do many of us seem so insistent on understanding God, His will and His purposes?
One of my favorite Bible passages, Proverbs 3:5-6, actually instructs us to do quite the opposite. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” It tells us, without equivocating, not to lean on our own understanding. I have to admit, I like leaning on my own understanding, knowing what’s going to happen, and when, and why, and how. But that’s not always possible.
That’s why the so-called “Christian life” is an everyday, moment by moment, journey of faith. Trusting in God’s goodness, love and perfect knowledge. Philippians 4:4-7 speaks to this directly. It starts off by admonishing us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” There’s no qualification, such as times when we’re not happy about what’s going on. As a wise Bible scholar once told me, “When the Bible says ‘always,’ what that means is…always!”
When events occur that confound our understanding – some of us might be thinking that’s just about all the time – the passage continues to instruct, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Rather than fretting and wringing our hands in confusion and frustration, we’re told to pray, to talk directly to the Lord, and do so with an accepting, thankful heart.
Then, when “I don’t understand!” thoughts linger, we can experience the best part of this exhortation: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” As an old song says, when you don’t understand and you can’t see His plan and you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.
All this is not to say the walk of faith means disconnecting our brains, totally dispensing with human reason and being prohibited from asking questions. Because the Scriptures promise that if we seek understanding, God won’t leave us in the dark. In Proverbs 2:1-6 we find the key:
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
God isn’t obligated to give us a full, detailed rationale for things that happen in our lives. But when we submit to His will and His guidance, He promises to give us as much understanding as we need. Beyond that, we’re to trust in the Lord with all our heart, having the confident assurance that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is email@example.com.