If I had a God around whom I could totally and completely wrap my finite brain, He wouldn’t be a God worth worshiping. Trying to comprehend the mysteries of God is like a preschooler attempting to grasp quantum physics.
I asked God to heal my first marriage, to remove the “thorn” of mental illness, to turn a prodigal back toward home and God was silent. I’ve sat with friends who’ve lost children to drug overdose, illness/disease, and suicide. I still have no good answers as to Why? I can only resolve that one day, God will make clear His perfect will…and then, I will understand.
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT)
Prayers for loved ones or for relief from suffering, that confound our paralyzed heart, will stretch our faith. What can help, in the especially difficult times, is to remember that God’s timing is rarely our own. Things may seem to race from bad to worse, but God has complete authority over the situation. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is how He allows us to see, perhaps much later, how His timing and His plans are perfect. Can you go back in your life and think about times when, if you had received what you wanted in the moment, you would not have grown in your spiritual life?
I got pregnant easily with my daughter. I thought the same would be true for my second child. I was heartbroken when years went by and still no baby. I believe, looking back, I needed to learn to be content with what God had blessed me and let God’s will — not my own — guide my life. When it seems like all hope is lost, it may just mean that God isn’t finished yet — and remember, His timeline is eternal. I eventually had my son and my heart overflowed with gratitude. But, I still would be called to trust in God’s inherent goodness even if my son was never born. Hope never gets lost, it is just taking another way. Doubt’s haunting voice will never have the last word.
I love Ruth Bell Graham’s mother’s heart. She prayed her children through all sorts of trials and tragedies. Prayer has always been a mother’s default setting.
“When I am dealing with an all-powerful, all-knowing God, I, as a mere mortal, must offer my petitions not only with persistence but also with patience. Someday I’ll know why.” – Ruth Bell Graham
I have to remind myself, a lot, that His ways and His thoughts are “higher” than my own (Isaiah 55:9). God is never flummoxed or frustrated, and nothing can stop Him from carrying out His purposes — not even death. Much like a rainbow after a cloudburst, God shows up when we least expect Him. The Lord moves at His own pace and He’s never late. What we now see dimly in a mirror, we will see clearly, and God will give us complete understanding in heaven. In every mystery there is an element of truth. Often it is hidden or undetected. The author of all the mysteries will one day sit with us and will point out how what we couldn’t understand then, now overflows with His never-ending grace and wisdom.
So, how can we know the unknowable? How can we understand the mysteries of God? Hold this thought gently in your open hands: There is no understanding of God, and His mysteries, apart from a personal relationship with His Son. Jesus said that when we have seen Him, we have seen the Father.
Would it not make great sense, then, for us to desire, with all our heart, to be in an intimate relationship with the lover of our soul? One day we will understand the word of God in its fullness, and He will reveal to us the mysteries that presently our minds just cannot understand. On our own, we can’t please God, but we can, through His Son, be part of the most holy and fulfilling relationship this life affords. I know that if I can’t be healed, then I want to be tenderly held in God’s embrace.
If you are struggling with the answer to a prayer, you’ve seemingly been given, or you flat out don’t like how life’s play is unfolding, do know that God often doesn’t give us what we wish for. He gives us what we need. Bad things will happen to “good” people in this world, but take heart, this world is not the end. When our tender flesh is scraped along the concrete of life, we have a choice: Will we, or will we not, adopt a more eternal perspective?
“We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NIV)
One day we will see God’s good plan in it all. We will have a great reward on that day, and it will be glorious!
Dear Heavenly Father, I admit there are times I don't like your answers to my prayers. Help me to humbly submit myself to Your sovereign will. I take heart that my prayers are "deathless" and will definitely be answered in eternity. When I don't understand, enable me to turn my heart to what I DO know to be true about you. Give me the faith I need to believe in your goodness, mercy, and faithfulness. I praise you that you are not a God I can put in a box and fully understand. I allow for your divine mystery knowing one day I will fully understand what now I only see dimly. May your perfect love cast out the doubt and fear in my life and draw me into your loving embrace as I wait upon You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.