The myth of simplicity beckons us toward a solution—any solution other than the ambiguity of faith. And faith beckons us towards deeper trust without giving us the solution.
In our pain we may come to worship not just the easy answer but—answers. It is our form of control and after all—"knowledge is power." Which explains why we wrestle with God for this powerful possession. We want to know the why even more than the "when" or "who" or (dare I say) the "if."
There are two simple answers we must avoid at all cost because they are devastating to the spiritual life—and they are lies. These two may never be found (overtly) in the Christian methods books but they are strangely tantalizing. They are the easiest of answers: "God does not care!" or "God is powerless." Do not subscribe to either of these.
We need only look to the cross to know that He cares and we need only look to the resurrection to know He has power. Should our suffering become so great, or our longing become so consuming that we imagine God to be somehow ambivalent or distracted we will have been trampled by the deceiver of the brethren—Satan (Revelation 12:10).
The very core of the Gospel is that our God heard the cry of His people and had compassion on them (Exodus 3:7). The very essence of the coming of Christ is that God cared to save us (John 3:16). The very premise of our salvation is that we participate in the suffering of Christ that we might celebrate in His victory (Philippians 3:10, 1 Corinthians 15:57). Our God knows the plight of every Christian, the suffering of every saint, just as He knows the undulations of the tide or the birth of a chick.
There is no one more powerful than the God who created the world. There is no more caring God than the God who offered His Son for OUR sins. If the depth of our longing distracts us, it is due to our longing--not God's apathy. It is because the pain has numbed us the to vision of His works in our lives—to His love.
I had a waking dream in which I imagined my voice to be like the voice of Job. Craving answers I asked, "Why?" No, I SCREAMED, "WHY?!!!"
A voice spoke from heaven, thundering, though only a whisper; a whisper fearsome and yet tender, commanding and soothing. It was the Lord.
"Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge (Job 29:11)?"
I had never heard a more terrible sound nor been confronted with a more profound question. I did not dare answer. Fear had set-in, discretion overcame valor. I was sure He knew my name but it was not my name He sought. Who was I and what was I doing screaming at God? Truly, truly, my words lacked knowledge but I still wanted to know.
"Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me," He continued.
Me answer Him? What on earth could I tell Him that He does not already know?
"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!"
I was braced, but no man could hold up under such ruthless cross-examination. I knew nothing of such things and couldn't understand what this had to do with ME? Of course I wasn't there! Of course I didn't know about the earth's foundation, and all that—but what of MY problems, MY pain and sorrow? This is what I wanted to know. This was the cry that poured from my lips moments earlier. But I was silent, suspecting that no answer would suffice.
Then I answered sheepishly "I don't know."
He spoke again but this time His voice was far tender—even gentle.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
I was very weary and burdened, and I surely needed rest. It was my restlessness that had made me cry out. How weary I was in searching, how tired of the longing. So I reclined and listened as He spoke.
- "Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?" (Job 38:12)
- "Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?" (Job 38:18)
- "Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?" (Job 38:36)
- "Who provides food for the raven when its young cry?" (Job 38:41)
Not me. I did none of these things and knew nothing of them. God did all this and understood all these things. I cried, "You, oh God, did all these things and even greater things untold. You know! You know, oh Lord!"
It then became obvious that he knows my troubles and trials. This was His point. He who provides for the raven when its young cry, understands me (Luke 12:24). He who laid the foundations of the earth knows my longings. He who commands the dawn is still concerned for me. Of my sufferings and trials He has said, "You may not know why, but you know who."
The truth is, I have a finite mind that cannot fathom the infinite. Something I had to that point, amazingly, not considered. Truthfully, I could not have understood had God in His kindness told me all. We can ask why. We can ask when. But we must rest and trust that the one who commands the wind knows our need. The one who beckons the morning understands and cares. The one who shepherds the ocean loves and shepherds us.
I don't know why and I don't need to know why ... as long as I know who. God knows my problems and He knows me. He knows you. I find comfort in knowing His complete love for me.
I drive because I trust the car's designer and builder.
I fly because I trust the airplane's maker and pilot.
I live because I trust my maker and my pilot.
I wait because I trust His plans for me.
I wait with patience because I trust His power to care for me.
I asked and He answered, thankfully with a whisper.
I dare think how I would survive had He shouted.
"Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion.
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**This article first published on August 25, 2009.