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. Ecclesiastes 3:11
The circumstances of life can be overwhelming. Sometimes they bring on emotions of anger and lead to long lasting grudges. Sometimes it’s anxiety caused by uncertainty, or hopelessness and a deep depression which we allow to convince ourselves will never subside.
Circumstances are tricky, because they often involve a mixture of elements in our control and out of it. Throw in regrets that we can’t change and it can get messy. Ultimately, we often find that more is out of our control than we realize. And, if we really break it down, we come to the sometimes disheartening yet even more often comforting conclusion that even those things that we can control have only been put in our control by God, who is ultimately in control of even those things.
As humans, we always want to know the outcomes. We want assurance that we are going to live a happy life because we’re afraid of the unknown. Sometimes we feel secure, but when our world is shook suddenly or we’re stuck in a seemingly perpetual struggle, we look to the heavens in wonder and feel the need to be able to predict the future. We struggle to simply trust, knowing that God is working in our lives even when we don’t see it, and I would argue, especially when we don’t see it.
A few of us here on Heartbeat are going through difficult times, and even though we all have relationships with our Savior and strengthen these relationships through fellowship with one another, we’ve all experienced the fear of not knowing the answers, and the desire to see what we can not yet see, or may never see.
I find it comforting to explore just how many times in the Bible individuals of even very strong faith had these exact same emotions. Yes, circumstances were different based on historical context, but it’s almost as if these people were just like us. Maybe they were.
Of course, the traditional example of this shows up in John chapter 20, and is affectionately known among Christians as the passage with “doubting Thomas”. Thomas insisted that he wouldn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus until he was able to see Jesus and feel his wounds. Thankfully, Jesus appeared to the disciples and lovingly met Thomas where he was in his unbelief, leading to the famous verse: “And Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:28
It’s hard enough for many of us to trust that circumstances in our lives are being worked out for our good when it doesn’t seem like they could possibly end up good. Imagine what it was like for Thomas, after this man he followed and invested so much of his life into was crucified. How could death lead to something good? Thomas didn’t see it then, and ever refused to believe it. But this didn’t change God’s perfect plan.
Another passage I think of when it comes to trusting God and having faith for an uncertain future us when Abraham is commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. What an unbelievable amount of faith that must have taken for Abraham to be willing to make an unthinkable sacrifice, knowing that God knew what He was doing. Even though it’s quite different now that we don’t hear God speak in the same way, I find it interesting that we struggle to let go and trust when we still know that God is in control.
It seems to me that teaching this type of trust in God even when we don’t understand is trending in the Christian world. I hear it a lot now in sermons, in songs, and that’s good. But we often place the emphasis on how we haven’t yet seen the outcome of God’s work, but will. While this is very good, there is a good amount in scripture which shows us that we don’t always ever understand.
In Matthew 19, Jesus is in Judea speaking to a young man who is looking to inherit the kingdom of heaven. This is the passage where Jesus tells him to give all of his possessions to the poor, (what would be an ultimate display of sacrifice and faith) which obviously doesn’t go over too well. Jesus then tells his disciples who are present that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. When Peter asks Jesus how this is possible, Jesus answers in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Here we see a contrast between human weakness and divine power. Peter remains confused, as Jesus continues to explain in verse 30, “many who are first will be last, and the last first”. Though we don’t know for sure, it seems likely that Peter never understood, at least until eternity.
One of the most significant issues with our world today is that people limit God to what makes sense to them. To think that God could be compressed to such a limited space like our own minds is silly. We see this in Matthew 22, as well as Mark 12. In these passages, the Sadducees ask Jesus about marriage in heaven, especially when multiple partners are involved on earth. Jesus responds with a firm clarification that marriage is bound to earth. Jesus describes how we “neither marry or are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Sure, we have pictures of angels painted in our minds from Sunday School or wherever, but we can’t truly understand what it is like to be an angel in heaven. In fact, we won’t understand until we get there. The Sadducees had a hard time accepting the fact that this didn’t make sense to their human minds, which is why Jesus told them that they “know neither the scriptures nor the power of God”.
To understand the power of God is to humbly accept that our human minds can not come close to comprehending what He has in store. In Biblical times we saw this too, so the reason we still wonder why we don’t understand the circumstances in our lives is sometimes beyond me.
In the Bible, there are examples of when God reveals to us how He works almost immediately, later in life, or not until eternity. We simply do not know.
But we can rest on the assurance of the truth of God’s Word, and what it says in Romans: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
Hey, that’s us! We love Him, and we have been called according to His purpose. So we can live for Him even in the circumstances of life, knowing that we may see the reasons soon, or not for a while, or not until eternity. It’s okay.
I love this song from Danny Gokey. I think it fits the situations some of us are experiencing. But I know that even if we don’t ever see the ways God has worked in our lives, we will in eternity. Ultimately that’s what is our comfort, even though we know that we likely will see at least some of the reasons down the road in life.
We can trust God’s perfect plan because when we don’t have the answers, we know Who does.