“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I am analytical by nature. When it comes to figuring out how something works so that I can use or fix it, or to getting to the root of a problem so that I can move forward (and to helping a friend do the same), that characteristic serves me well. But when trying to figure out the “whys” of life that have no humanly-known answer, or have answers I’m not yet supposed to know, it has caused me much wasted time and energy.
A number of years ago the Lord showed me the futility of trying to figure it all out – why some who live upright lives suffer in unthinkable ways; why some faithful Christians struggle financially; why some marriageable people never find a mate; why some with big hearts are never blessed with children; why some parents of young children are taken away by death or divorce; why some who delight themselves in the Lord seem not to be granted the desires of their hearts; the list can go on and on.
After experiencing an excruciating disappointment in my life and trying to figure out why it had all happened, a wise person told me, “I’ve found that these things never have only one reason; they happen as a result of many reasons, some which we can figure out, and others that we never will.” I’ve thought of those wise words often. Realizing that some things can never be understood has helped me to let go of many of the questions that have no answers and relieved me of the angst of over analyzing.
But our inner peace regarding unanswered questions can go far beyond this simple embrace of the unknowns. Recently a friend shared this nugget of truth from Proverbs 20:24, expressed in the paraphrase of the Living Bible: “Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way?”
Indeed, why should we? Even more than the fact that there are questions that can’t be answered, is the fact that God is directing our steps. As the One whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), we have every reason to trust that He knows what He’s doing, that He knows the answers to all of our whys, that He knows us better than we know ourselves, that He knows the purpose He has for our lives, and that He will faithfully direct our steps accordingly. Our job is to trust Him, to follow Him, to lean on Him, and to let Him carry us when the way gets rough.
I think of Job and his friends and their attempts to reconcile his godliness with his suffering. Unknown to all of them something was happening in the spiritual realm that would have answered all their questions. If nothing else, the story of Job reveals that as mere mortals there are many things we don’t know about, let alone understand, but that God has under control.
We learn to trust God as we encounter situation after situation that we don’t understand and choose to embrace the unknowns as part of life, trusting that He is directing our steps and will reveal what we need to know in His timing, and to keep concealed what we don’t.
© 2010 Fern Horst