Our Awesome God
- Wednesday, September 06, 2006
A few years ago Michael Gartner wrote in USA Today about the sudden death of his 17-year-old adopted son Christopher. “He died on Thursday. He was a healthy, robust boy on Tuesday. He got sick on Wednesday. And he died on Thursday.” Then he said, “You would have liked him. Everyone did.” Father and son didn’t look alike at all. Michael Gartner is five-foot-eight and weighs 160. Christopher was close to six-four and weighed around 300 pounds. “He looked like a cement block with a grin.” He died of a sudden attack of juvenile diabetes. Despite heroic medical efforts and fervent prayers Christopher was suddenly gone. “It is awful and horrible and sad, and no words can comfort his four grandparents, his brother and sister, his friends or his parents.”
The day after he died, a friend called and said the only thing that helped get him through the terrible tragedy: “If God had come to you 17 years ago and said, ‘I’ll make you a bargain. I’ll give you a beautiful, wonderful, happy and healthy kid for 17 years, and then I’ll take him away,’ you would have made that deal in a second.” “And that was the deal. We just didn’t know the terms,” Michael Gartner said. He’s right. That’s always the deal. And we never know the terms in the advance. God gives us life, health, happiness, our children, our friends, and says, “Enjoy it while you can. Someday I will come back for them.” And we never know the terms in advance.
Only God knows why things happen. Most of the time we can only wonder.
Second, this text tells us...
Three Things No One Can Do
Verses 34-35 contain three rhetorical questions, each one expecting a negative answer. They all begin with the same two words: “Who has... Who has... Who has?” The answer is always the same: “No one... No one... No one.”
1. No One Can Explain God
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?” (34a) Lots of people think they know what God is like, but the only thing we know about God are things he has chosen to reveal to us. I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the six blind men who were trying to describe an elephant. The first man felt the tusk and said, “An elephant is sharp, like a spear.” The second man touched his massive side and exclaimed, “No! An elephant is like a wall.” The third man stroked his wiggling trunk and concluded that an elephant was most like a snake. The fourth man tried to wrap his arms around one of the elephant’s legs. When he couldn’t, he said, “He is like a tree.” The fifth felt the expanse of his huge ears and said, “It’s easy to see that an elephant is much like a fan.” The last man felt the tiny tail and said, “You’re all wrong. An elephant is shaped like a rope.” Who was right? They are were. Who was wrong? All of them. We are all like those blind men when it comes to knowing God. Who among us can claim to fully understand the infinite and Almighty God of the universe? No one knows enough to fully explain God.
2. No One Can Counsel God
“Or who has been his counselor?” (34b) I love the way Eugene Peterson puts it: Is there “anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?” He needs no counselor for he is infinitely wise. In high schools there are trained professionals called guidance counselors. They help students make wise decisions about the future. They gather data from report cards, test scores and detailed interviews, combining the student’s strengths and weaknesses with the available opportunities. Such counselors are indispensable because life is filled with so many possibilities. But God needs no guidance counselor. Indeed, he is the ultimate Guidance Counselor. He guides every being in the universe, but no one guides him. He counsels all creation, but no one is his counselor. For a mere man to counsel God would be like a candle trying to give light to the sun.
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