Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Better Knowledge

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us . . . (Deuteronomy 29:29). 

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a Facebook status which reads: God does not answer to us; we answer to Him. 

A friend promptly replied, “Oh but He does answer prayer. I know that with certainty now.” 

Yes, God graciously answers prayer. But answering prayer isn't nearly the same thing as answering to. God may indeed answer us, but never does He "answer to" us. That is, He feels no compulsion whatsoever to justify His ways to us. He is inscrutable. And while we are in no position to judge Him, He is in position to judge us. 

Yet, the One who judges is the One who loves. He may not give us explanations for our trials, but He has given us something far better. He has given us His Son. Knowing why pales in comparison to knowing Him. 

When I say "answer to" I have in mind something like what we find in the book of Job.  

In the beginning, Job envisions confronting God—demanding answers from Him as to why he is suffering. In the end, this is not at all what happens or even what is needed. Job finds God, not explanations. And God is sufficient. He is better than explanations. 

The fact is people of faith endure trials and suffering—and quite often—we don't know why. But we have a better knowledge: We know God. And because we know Him, we trust Him—even when we don't understand Him. We know He is good, faithful and loving even when we suffer. 

In other words, not understanding life does not keep us from trusting God. Hence we find in scripture the admonition: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Prov 3:5). 

Thus the apostle Paul does not pray to have explanations or to know all things. Rather, he prays: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Phil 3:10, emphasis mine). 

I understand the desire to know exactly why we suffer. But there is a better knowledge: "Joy is not the absence of pain. Joy is the presence of God." 

We come to terms with our pains by considering them through the lens of Christ's sufferings. Our hope and comfort are not in knowing why, but in knowing Him.

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