Things We Don’t Understand


Many times when great suffering, destruction, and distress, things that upset our world come our way, our first response is

” I don’t understand”
Many times followed by followed by “Well if God cares, loves (fill in the blanks) why would He allow this to happen?
I do not believe asking when we do not understand is offensive to God. But we should be careful about questioning Gods goodness and reputation.
Our ancient ancestor Job learned this the hard way as he and his friends discussed Jobs troubles (in 42 of the most difficult chapters I have read in the Bible)

After 37 chapters of discussion God finally speaks to Job and says

Who is this that darkens counsel,
who covers over sound instruction with empty words void of knowledge?
Now, prepare yourself and gather your courage like a warrior.
Prepare yourself for the task at hand.
I’ll be asking the questions, now—
you will supply the answers. Job 38:1-3

For two chapters God asks “Where were you?”

I am not a theologian. I am aware that much has been written about the story of Job. I have no new revelation or insight to offer. But I do believe there is wisdom to be gleaned from this story that would benefit us all in our moments where understanding is not possible. In Job 42 we find these nuggets of wisdom

We somehow think if we could just understand it would make sense.

I’m not convinced it would. If we knew from beginning to end how it all was going to go, there would probably be things we would not want to know.
Job never got an answer as to why God allowed him to go through the suffering. But he came away with understanding of far greater importance

“I know You can do everything;
nothing You do can be foiled or frustrated. (Job 42:2)

Gods questions of “where were you?”  involved much more than chastising Job for daring to suppose he knew the mind of God, or questioning God. I believe it also to do with trust. In pointing to all of his mighty works and wisdom, God is far less concerned with Job understanding his circumstances. He wants Job to understand who He is.

The later on is more important than the here and now

In a post on Desiring God Gloria Furman writes:

“We tend to forget about tomorrow and eternity when our day is filled with the tyranny of the urgent”.

For Job who suffered like most of us never will, the tyranny of the urgent was his wife encouraging him to “curse God and die”, his friends trying to figure out what wrongs Job had committed, and Job wondering “why was I even born?” (Job 3:11). At one point Job says “Don’t find me guilty, just tell me what I have done?” (Job 10:10)  In response to God’s question “Who is this that darkens counsel, who covers over sound instruction with empty words void of knowledge?”, Job replies

” And now I see that I spoke of—but did not comprehend—
great wonders that are beyond me. I didn’t know. (Job 42:3b)

Only through Job’s suffering is this revealed to him. And Job was a better man in the later on.

Who are we to question God?

God says to Job earlier in chapter in chapter 38

” I’ll be asking the questions, now—
        you will supply the answers”.

Jobs response “Before I knew only what I had heard of You,
but now I have seen You.
Therefore I realize the truth:
I disavow and mourn all I have said
and repent in dust and ash. (Job 42:6)

“God, who has perfect understanding and unimaginable power, cannot be comprehended with the human mind and should not be questioned by the likes of Job”.

This quote from The Voice Bible commentary on Job 37 is true for Job and for us. And while God encourages us to talk with him, to come to Him with our requests, we need to ask ourselves a few hard questions before we go into that discussion.

Do we trust God on the basis of who He is, or by what He does?
Do we expect God to perform, prove Himself based on our expectations?

Do we suppose God owes us an explanation on any level?
Are we willing after we have done all we can to trust God with the outcome in any situation?

Are willing to accept that God is God and we are not….

 And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don’t know

And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So, I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God

And the sky begins to thunder
And I’m filled with awe and wonder
‘Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I?

Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So, I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God

Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through Him
And from Him are all things
So let us worship before the throne
Of the one who is worthy of worship alone

Oh God, God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture He’s painting
God, God is God and I am man
So, I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God
Only God is God


“Now at last they were beginning chapter One of the great story no one on earth has read: which goes on forever”. I love this line at the end of the Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. Everyone has a story to tell and ultimately we are all part of a greater story that someday will be revealed in full. “ For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things”. ( 1 Corinthians 13:12). My story is not remarkable, although the events I have had the privilege in my life to witness have been. I grew up in the south “the land of cotton” and the old times there were definitely not forgotten. I remember where I was and what I was doing when JFK and Martin Luther King were murdered in Dallas and in Memphis. I remember the Civil Rights movement, a time of great unrest and change. I remember the dawning of the “Age of Aquarius” in the late 1960’s. It was also the dawning of my love for playing music, a love that has stayed with me throughout my life. If my life were chapters in a book one would tell of my precious bride of 20+ years who endured so much and stood beside me through the good and the bad. One would describe the blessings of being a father and a grandfather. One would tell about how despite being “the wretch” the song sings about God was able to change me, and use me to make a difference in others lives, make me a servant in His church, and surround me with friends all because of His goodness. All part of a story that has had many twists and turns. I think of the words Jimmy Buffet wrote in one of my favorite songs "As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin’ man I have chalked up many a mile Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks And I learned much from both of their styles" And so it is true for me. But in all of my travels and all I have read and experienced nothing compares to where I am headed. The place where my story here ends and the story that goes on forever begins! "" I am confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion until the day He returns". Philippians 1:6 My hope is that as we all run our race that in some small way my words will encourage and speak to you, as your story is being written. And draw you ever closer to the One who loves you. Further up and further in!

1 Response to Things We Don’t Understand

  1. ptl2010 says:

    Amen only God is God. Praise The Lord whatever my circumstance – He knows and is there at my point of praise and need. Hallelujah!

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