Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Our Verse of the Day reminds me that life is more mysterious than understood. But I believe that is perfectly fine. We do not have to understand everything. In fact, it is probably best that we do not understand everything…. I’m not saying that ignorance is bliss, but I am saying that sometimes the unknown can be best for us. The unexpected can actually be a source of great joy … especially when we look back and connect the dots and see the tapestry God has woven in our lives. Not “knowing” puts us in the strategic position of exercising our faith. The unknown requires us to trust God; and I believe that faith is the desired outcome of every context we are given in life. Indeed, we are instructed that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Cf. Hebrews 11:1) And, without faith, it is impossible to please Him; for whoever would draw near to God must believe the He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. (Cf. Hebrews 11:6)
With this perspective in mind, I have come to the realization that God is ultimately beyond our comprehension. He is the mystery that every human soul wrestles to comprehend. As King Solomon wrote: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Cf. Ecclesiastes 3:11) We do not know all the hidden things of God – the mysteries of His wisdom and counsel; nor will we be able to comprehend all of His knowledge. It is simply too great for human minds! As Moses wrote: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Cf. Deuteronomy 29:29) In His grace, God has revealed many things to us – mysteries as Paul described them; but He appoints the times and circumstances of His revelations. Scripture is clear that God determines what He will reveal to us, but I believe God has revealed “enough” of Himself to us in order for us to know Him, to fear Him, and to keep His commandments.
So why this commentary on the matter of faith? Well, I think it has an intimate connection with our verse. What we think and understand is based on our limited, finite human knowledge. Yet, the thoughts of God are higher than our thoughts. How God operates is not determined by how we believe He should operate. I think of Job – when God questioned him:
Job 42:1-6 (NKJV)
Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.
Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
We simply do not know the beginning to the end. As King Solomon in his wisdom observed:
Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 (NIV)
What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, and what is to be has already been; and God requires an account of what is past.
In Ephesians 3:1-14, Paul unfolds how the mystery of Christ – though written in the Old Testament Scriptures – had not been revealed (unveiled) until Jesus actually appeared on the earth to fulfill all that had been written and prophesied about Him. Even though Jesus came to His own people, they rejected Him. As the Apostle John wrote: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own people, but His own people did not receive Him. Yet to all who as did receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right (authority) to become children of God.” (Cf. John 1:10-12) To me, the incarnation is a perfect illustration of how people can fail to connect with the thoughts and ways of God. The Messiah did not come as the Jewish authorities had expected nor did they believe what God had declared through His Prophets. From the beginning, God has always purposed for everyone who believes in Him to receive salvation!
God declared, “My thoughts are not your thoughts and neither are your ways my ways.” And yet, I see through the Scriptures that God HAS intentionally revealed Himself through His Word and through His Son! What they could not apprehend; or perhaps, refused to comprehend, was not due to the absence of revelation or light made available them. My point is that when we come to a place that we just do not understand what God is doing or how He is doing it or why He is doing it, we need to just trust what we do know … trust what He has already revealed to us in His Word. When we do not understand the affliction of a chronic disease in our bodies … we do know that God loves us with an everlasting love. I know that seems incompatible – suffering and love – but God permitted both human experiences in His Son. And we know that suffering has a role in teaching us obedience … which God, in His love, uses to refine our faith. (Cf. Psalm 66:10; Isaiah 48:10; Jeremiah 9:7; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3) God knows the ultimate end … the ultimate goal … and He is determined to get us there for His own glory. My friends, we can rest assured that His purpose is always for the good of those who love Him … for those who are called according to His purpose. Even when we cannot see it, God the Father is conforming us to the image of His Son. (Cf. Romans 8:28-29)
I am convinced that God provides us with all we need to uphold and sustain us … even when we do not understand what He is doing in the moment. As King David affirmed: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! (Cf. Psalm 84:11-12) Yes, God knows how to provide us with the knowledge and wisdom that we need for life. God knows how to bless us with every spiritual blessing. He knows what is best for each of us and He does not withhold it. Even spiritual discipline exercised through physical distress can test our hearts in ways we could not imagine for our good. Indeed, there is an ongoing work of God in our individual hearts and lives that draws us to Him … that brings us to repentance and faith … that tests the genuineness of our faith … that brings us into an abiding, intimate relationship with Him. Yes, I believe the work of God within us can be known and understood through faith. We just need to trust Him!
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9