Most of us have had to endure times when life didn’t make sense. For that matter, some of us are there right now. What’s especially difficult about such times is the fact that God, who is normally the source to which we can go for answers and guidance, is the one who has either caused or at least allowed the confusing events. Imagine getting lost on safari in Africa and your guide is the one who got you lost!
It is during these times of confusion, these times when even God doesn’t seem to be providing much clarity, that our faith in Him and obedience to Him are sorely tested. I wish I was a good enough writer to pen some masterpiece about how to get through such times, but I’m just not at that level. Even if I was talented enough to string the words together, my spiritual insight concerning what words to use would surely fail me. So, what I think I’ll do is let Vance Havner do some writing here. In a piece entitled “When It Doesn’t Make Sense,” he said the following:
“…perplexed, but not in despair.” (2 Corinthians 4:8)
Paul was in perplexity but not in despair. He was not whistling his way through the graveyard, however; nor was he merely “smiling through” or looking for something to turn up. His way out was not by painting the clouds with sunshine, wearing rose-colored glasses and quoting lovely poems about “God’s in His Heaven; all’s right with the world!”
I am constantly encountering dilemmas that don’t make sense. I have a picture of myself standing with two other preachers taken only a few years ago. One was rudely snatched from earth in an automobile collision with a drunken driver. The drunken driver escaped, but the splendid young preacher was taken from a fruitful ministry and a fine wife and little children. The other preacher in the photo died later in his forties, just a few weeks before the birth of his only child, a son he had longed for through the years. I saw that little fellow recently and was struck again with the unexplainable mystery of what just doesn’t seem to make sense.
Even now I am tramping the woods with another fine youngster whose father died some years ago. When I think how much he loved that boy but had to leave him, and wonder why I am enjoying that little fellow instead, there looms again the perplexity of those enigmas that just don’t fit into any of our patterns.
Of course men have wrestled with such puzzles from the beginning. It was Job’s perplexity. Habakkuk contended with it and gave us his blessed “although” and “yet” (3:17, 18). Micah surveyed a dismal day when godly men had perished from the earth, while the wicked prospered. He got through to God and a man had better do that or he will go crazy. John the Baptist sat in prison and doubtless pondered why Jesus could work all His miracles but leave His forerunner in jail.
Some things are given us to know (Matthew 13:11), but some things are not for us to know (Acts 1:7). Unfortunately, we fail to learn much we could know by trying to find out what we cannot know. The little boy who couldn’t understand why God put so many vitamins in spinach instead of putting them all in ice cream was learning early that things just don’t work out as we would do them if we had the universe in charge.
Some things just don’t seem to make sense, but we may be perplexed yet not in despair. The way out is not by explanation but by revelation. The Bible does not give us explanation for some of these riddles, but it does supply revelation. To begin with, when things do not make sense to us, it does not mean that they don’t make sense at all. Furthermore, when some things do not make sense to us now, it does not mean that they never will make sense.
But a still deeper consideration remains. There is a higher viewpoint from which things which don’t make sense to our ordinary reasoning can make sense to our spiritual understanding even now. The highest lesson God wants to teach us is to trust Him regardless. If everything made sense to our understanding, we would need no faith. If everything worked out in storybook style, we would become complacent and spoiled. God wants to bring us to a higher place where He Himself is our portion and reward, where we can sing, “Now Thee alone I seek; give what is best.”
One line from Havner’s last paragraph really helps me. He says: “The highest lesson God wants to teach us is to trust Him regardless,” That line surely speaks truth. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego calmly submitting to being cast into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-30), and like Daniel not raising a fuss over being thrown into the den of lions (Daniel 6:1-28), God wants us to trust Him even when what is happening to us makes no sense whatsoever.
Then again, since those two famous stories both have happy endings of divine deliverance, perhaps they aren’t the best ones to cite as examples. After all, sometimes the deliverance doesn’t come (at least not in this life). The husband and wife who just buried their child won’t find much help in a story in which God Himself shows up to miraculously spare the lives of three Hebrew boys. The family who just lost a loved one to cancer or Covid-19 can’t take much encouragement from a story in which God sends an angel to close the mouths of a bunch of ravenous lions so that a prophet’s life can be preserved. Sure, it’s easy to trust in God when the outcome goes the way you want it to go. But how do you keep on trusting in Him when it goes the polar opposite direction?
That question doesn’t come with a neatly packaged answer, and it’s one that each of us must hash out with God for ourselves. What works for me in regards to answering it might not work for you. What brings me comfort on the subject might leave you comfortless. What strengthens my faith might not do a thing for yours. At some point, though, God will give us what we need to keep on keeping on with Him.
In reference to this, Vance Havner said that Micah got his help by getting through to God. As comforting as that thought is, it strikes me that some people might need for God to get through to them because they’ve stopped trying to get through to Him. You see, that’s a whole other way for Him to provide the required help.
One thing is for sure, though, whatever your confusing situation is, God won’t leave you alone to make sense of it on your own. If you won’t freely go to Him for help, He will freely come to you to provide it anyway. But let me warn you, you getting His help still might not be enough to cause you to agree with Him either causing or allowing the confusing situation to come to pass in the first place. During such times you’ll just have to say, “Lord, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this until I can get a little farther down the road and align my way of thinking with yours, but in the meantime I’m going to stick with you, trust you, and keep walking with you.” Admittedly, this won’t be an ideal solution, but it will at least be enough to keep you moving in the right direction until you can get to a better place with it all.