Hard Questions, Godward Answers
- Wednesday, November 17, 2004
People can say some really thoughtless – even stupid – things.
I have a friend whose husband committed suicide. Her pastor wisely prepared her by telling her she was going to be greatly tested in responding graciously during grief. There’s something about death, especially by suicide, that seems to elicit careless comments and remarks. “My pastor was so right,” she said later. “Someone actually asked me if I knew my husband was going to kill himself! As though my answer was going to be, ‘Why, yes, and I let him!’”
Another friend, pregnant with a Down’s Syndrome child, was still reeling from the news when an acquaintance began to muse aloud about how hard it would be to go to restaurants with a handicapped child. “Everyone would always be staring at you! Would you be able to handle that for the rest of your life?” she asked.
I offer these true stories to help single women everywhere remember that there are much harder questions to handle than “Why aren’t you married yet?” and “So, are you dating anyone now?” I’m not saying it’s easy to hear these unhelpful questions or comments over and over again. I’m just saying that, unfortunately, it’s not a problem exclusive to being single. Scripture tells us it’s hard to control our tongues (James 3:2), so we shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter someone losing a grip on theirs.
The questions others ask us, however, can’t compare to the kinds of questions that we ask ourselves. When faced with extended singleness, it’s tempting to ask what’s wrong with us. Worse are the questions that bubble up from within during a lonely moment at a wedding or late at night, when the house is still but the emotions rage: “Does God really know what He’s doing? Is He really in control? Can I trust Him with my desires? Has He forgotten me?”
Where can we find the answers to such questions? Let’s begin with a mystery found in Proverbs:
“There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.”
(Proverbs 30:18-19 NIV, emphasis added)
This biblical passage shows us that there are things too amazing, too wonderful for even a wise man to understand. Now you may say to yourself that modern science can explain the first three items – what’s the big deal? Number four still has us, though. Wise men and women remain confounded by the mystery of attraction and romance. We really don’t know why some relationships bud and bloom, and others do not. It takes humility – a sober recognition of our limitations – to be comfortable with that mystery.
But I have some good news for you: There is One who does know.
We don’t know the ways of the heart, but God does. He perfectly understands the things that are too amazing for us to understand. He created the eagle, the snake, the high seas, and men and women. He knows how everything operates, and nothing is a mystery to Him.
Even better, He is lovingly involved in His creation – with the eagles, the snakes, the ships, and also our wily hearts. He didn’t just make us all and then stand back to have a good laugh. He is Lord over His creation, lovingly ruling over all things to accomplish His purposes – even (especially!) in the affairs of the heart: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).
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