I sometimes look back wistfully at the early days of my Christian faith, when God spoke simply and gently, a father to a little child, feeding me with spiritual milk, easily digestible for a baby. But as I’ve grown I’ve needed solid food.
There have been times of rejoicing at learning new things, and less enjoyable periods of discipline, and difficult lessons to master. It’s sometimes been painful, and often confusing.
C.s Lewis says it better than I can, but I have to agree with his description:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Here are some thoughts that help and encourage me when I don’t understand what God is doing:
1. I don’t expect to understand everything he is doing – his thoughts are higher and wiser than mine! (Isaiah 55:9)
2. I don’t need to understand –I’ve given my life over completely to him, and he is the grand architect who will make me into a suitable home for my King.
3. I remind myself of his character, so that my trust will come more easily: Love, faithfulness, mercy, wisdom, justice, kindness. Such a God must have a good and wise reason for any pain he causes me in the process of his amazing renovations!
4. I remind myself of Job. Do you know his story? In the Bible book named after him, Job is a sorry character, he experiences great suffering, and God does not reveal to him why he is afflicted ( although it is revealed to the reader).
Instead God reminds Job of his character, his superior wisdom and power, the might of the things he has created. He asks Job if he understands how any of it came to be, if he knows the mechanics of the world around him, if Job was present when they were created. Job’s reply shows his righteousness, and the mouth-stilling superiority of God:
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Or as Lewis puts it in another good book of his:
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”