When We Don’t Understand
Last week a friend and I were studying one of Jesus’ parables. In general, a parable is an earthly story that illustrates a spiritual truth. In the passage we were looking at, the disciples asked Jesus why He taught in parables. Jesus explained that the parables were meant to be a secret, and that they would remain a mystery unless the people sought Him for clarification and answers. In Matthew 13:13, He said “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” How interesting that God’s truths were meant to be revealed only in certain ways. My friend asked why it had to be this way. Couldn’t Jesus have taught in a more straight-forward manner? The truth is is that there are so many things we don’t understand about God’s ways; not only about how He reveals Himself but also how He works in our lives. God is gracious and loving but seldom do things happen exactly the way we want or expect them to.
Alicia Bruxvoort wrote the following devotional entitled The devotional doesn’t contain answers to our questions since we could never fully understand God’s ways as she mentions Isaiah 55:9 which says “His ways are higher than our ways.” What I appreciate though is the message that in the midst of times of discouragement and confusion, we can still trust and praise God because there are certain truths we do know and understand. Perhaps you can relate to her story and find hope in the Lord.
“When We Don’t Understand What God is Doing” by Alicia Bruxvoort, Proverbs 31 Ministries
God, I can’t figure out what You’re doing!” I cried after receiving a discouraging phone call on my drive home from the grocery store. Years before, God had invited me to trade my plans for His. He had whispered a promise to my heart and confirmed it through His Word, wise counsel and prayer. Believing His promise demanded faith, I had said “yes” and followed in obedience. At first, following God’s plan felt exhilarating. My prayer journal read like a grand tale of God’s greatness. But then, the journey began to look different than I’d imagined. The road was filled with more potholes than I’d anticipated, and as I let God direct my steps, it seemed He was leading me to the middle of nowhere, rather than in the direction of a promise fulfilled. I didn’t doubt God’s presence, but I questioned His plans. My enthusiasm waned. My confidence trembled. On my good days, I felt optimistic and persistent. On my bad days, I felt angry and confused. And on that evening when a phone call sunk my hope, I felt helpless and stuck. Veering into an empty parking lot, I let my tears splatter onto the steering wheel. “Could You just show me what You’re doing, Lord?” I begged. I don’t know how long I sat there and waited for the Lord’s reply. But I do know there was no flash of lightning illuminating God’s brilliant plan. No thundering voice explaining His mystifying methods. Just a quiet thought impressed upon my haggard heart:
“Do you want a God you can explain or a God you can extol?” Suddenly, through my haze of tears, I recognized an uncomfortable truth: A God of infinite majesty can’t be measured. A God who unleashes miracles can’t be contained. A God whose love is eternal can’t be explained. Perhaps that’s why Ecclesiastes 11:5 reminds us: “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” God sees more than we can see. He knows more than we know. He works in ways beyond our comprehension. (Isaiah 55:8-11) And if we agree to follow Him only when we understand what He’s doing, we’ll always stop short of experiencing His inexplicable wonders. As I sat in that parking lot with a head full of questions and a heart frayed with disappointment, I realized we have a choice.
We can let the mystery of God bolster our doubt or buoy our wonder. Abraham praised God beneath the stars — even though he didn’t understand how he’d ever become the father of nations. David praised God in the wilderness — even though he didn’t understand why he was running for his life instead of sitting on the throne. The Israelites praised God with a mighty shout — even though they didn’t understand Jericho’s wall would fall without a fight. I began to praise God, too, because what I do know about Him is far more important than what I don’t:
- I know God loves me, and He’ll never leave me. (John 3:16; Hebrews 13:5)
- I know He is for me and not against me. (Romans 8:31)
- I know God’s Word is true, and His heart is kind. (Psalm 33:4; Acts 14:17)
Lifting my head from the tear-stained steering wheel, I lifted my praises to heaven. And gradually, my disappointments shriveled in the shadow of my swelling hope.
Have a great week.