Living With What We Don’t Understand
This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt
If you’ve been around Christianity for a while, you are probably aware that “God’s righteousness” is referred to quite a bit by ministers and theologians. The words, righteous and righteousness, aren’t ones we use much in everyday conversation, and the average Christ-follower probably doesn’t think much about what they mean. Simply stated, (perhaps oversimplified!) righteous means that it is in God’s character to always do the right thing. In fact, God defines the meaning of what is “right”.
Still, when I hear about dozens of people being shot inside a movie theatre, or of the Japanese tsunami claiming the lives of 15,000 people, and the Asian tsunami killing 200,000 people, or the many diseases and injustices we all see and hear about in our world, my brain starts to short-circuit. Why do these tragic things happen to people? Where is God when these things happen? Honestly, I can’t figure it out.
Sure, theologians have their explanations. Because of sin, we all deserve God’s wrath. Anything good we experience is due to God’s grace and mercy. (I believe these things, by the way!) But, the tragedies still don’t compute. I can’t get my brain around them. Some see these issues as a roadblock to faith, because they can’t “believe” in a God who would allow such tragedies. But, do you know what I’ve discovered? It’s okay that I don’t always understand. Even though I don’t understand – and am saddened, frustrated and even angry at the tragedies – I still believe.
In fact, I think that part of a life of faith in God includes living with things we don’t understand. Take for example the Biblical account of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The Bible makes it clear that God “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh won’t let the Israelites leave Egypt. God then holds Pharaoh responsible for his stubbornness and punishes him and all of Egypt as well. From a human perspective something seems askew with the picture, but I still believe God is righteous – always doing what is right. He sees the big picture. I cannot. He understands completely. I do not. He is God. I am not.
Perhaps, you – like me – are making a list of things that you don’t understand, filing them away so you can ask God about them when you stand before Him one day. I don’t think God has a problem with this! When you encounter frustrations about life – and you find things you don’t understand – share them with God. He’s big enough to handle them. Then, resolve to believe that God, who is righteous, will always do the right thing. Live by faith, not by sight.
1. If you could ask God any one question and know that you would get an answer, what would your question be? Pray, asking God to grant you wisdom and patience as you wrestle with the answer to this question.
2. With so much tragedy and injustice in the world, why do you keep believing in God? Thank Him for the living and active gift of faith in your life.