Knowing vs. Believing
I received a prayer letter from a friend in the ministry who has known great sorrow in his life. Several years ago, one of his children died in an automobile accident. You sometimes hear it said that there is no pain like the pain of losing a child. I am sure my friend would agree. As he and his wife have walked through the dark valley of grief, they have learned many things from the Lord. No lesson has been more important than the truth of God's sovereignty. He calls it “perhaps the most difficult of God's attributes to embrace.” Then he adds, “I know in my heart that He is in control, but my head has a hard time accepting it on occasion.” Surely any parent can understand some of the anguish of those words.
Then he adds this wise insight:
For me, my questioning usually springs from the fact that God did not do something the way I thought it should have been done. He does something I do not understand. Now I would never question whether I know more than God does, but the truth is that my actions sometimes betray me. Right in the middle of singing, “I Surrender All,” I find myself grasping tightly to something of which I am afraid to let go.
My friend points out the difference between believing and knowing:
I have been giving much consideration to the things I say I believe and those things I just know. To believe something is to have it influence actions and attitudes. If I believe it, then it will change the way I view my life. If I just know it, then it is just one more fact I can recite from memory.
Finally he asks the bottom-line question about the accident that took his daughter's life:
Is God really in control? Was He in control on that foggy March 14th morning? The answer is YES! This is more than a basic theological truth; it is something we can say we truly believe, even if we do not understand the why.
When I hit my 50th birthday five years ago, I realized that I believe less now than I did 30 years ago. Back then I thought I had everything totally figured out. Life has a way of knocking us down a few pegs. That's certainly happened to me. So on one level, I don't have total certainty about all the details of theology. In a sense, my knowledge is both greater and smaller than it was three decades ago. But what I know, I really know. I have a handful of convictions that cannot be shaken. I would include in that short list these truths: God is good, Jesus is Lord, the Bible is true, life is short, every day is a gift, people matter more than things, fame is fleeting, this world is not my home, and even hard times are meant for my benefit. And at the core of my faith is an unshakable belief in the sovereignty of God. He's God and I'm not. He is sovereign over all the details of my life, and I can trust him completely even when those details seem to be spinning out of control.
My friend said it better than I did. There are some things we know; there are other things we believe. No truth matters more than the sovereignty of God. If God is truly in control, then I can live with the questions that for the moment have no answers.