In my previous post, “Let’s Get Real,” I pointed out that God allows Satan to win a lot of battles, even though God has already won the eternal war. That post was all about being honest with God when we talk to Him. Putting it simply, if we don’t understand what God is doing, or agree with it, we shouldn’t shy away from expressing that to Him in prayer. After all, how can prayer be real if it isn’t honest?
But now let’s come at this topic from a a different direction. To help us do this, I want to share an illustration that I once heard James Merritt, the pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia, use. Consider this the other side of the “Let’s Get Real” coin.
There was an old man who was known as the wisest man in a certain village. Whenever someone wanted council they would go see this man. One day a farmer went to him and said, “A horrible thing has happened to me: my ox died. I’m a farmer and I depended upon that ox to get my fields plowed and my crops planted. Now I can’t plant my crops and I’m going to starve. Do you agree that this is the worst possible thing that could have happened to me?” The wise man said, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
The very next day the farmer looked out his window and saw a strong, sturdy horse come galloping up to his farm. The farmer wouldn’t have tried to catch the horse if he had still had the ox, but the ox’s death led him to go out and catch the horse. It turned out that the horse was much younger and stronger than the ox and could plow ground much faster. Because of this, over the next couple of weeks, the man was able to plant twice as much as he would have been able to plant with the ox.
The man went back to the wise man and said, “I owe you an apology.” Then he told him the story about the horse. He finished the story by saying, “You were right. My ox dying wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. Actually, it was a blessing in disguise. The best thing that could have happened to me was getting this horse.” The wise man said, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
Three days later the farmer’s son took the horse out for a ride. But the horse threw him and the fall broke both of the son’s legs. Since the young man was the only worker the farmer had to help him get in his crops, the farmer was devastated. He went back to the wise man and said, “How did you know that me catching that horse was not going to be a good thing? My son getting both his legs broken has to be the worst thing that ever happened to me.” The wise man said, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
The very next day troops came to the village to take every young man away to fight a war that had just broken out. The only young man who wasn’t taken was the farmer’s son who was laid up with those two broken legs. Tragically, the village got word a few days later that every one of those young men had been killed in that war.
Vance Havner, that great preacher, left us with two good quotes about God’s sometimes downright confusing ways of dealing with us. First, he said, “God marks across some of our days, ‘Will explain later.’” Second, he said, “…all question marks will be straightened into exclamation points.” That first quote describes what we might call “the difficult here and now” while the second one describes “the sweet by and by.”
So, how does this “Maybe So, Maybe Not” post walk hand in hand with the “Let’s Get Real” post? The answer is: Even as we are honest enough with God to question Him or disagree with Him when we don’t understand what He is doing (or not doing), we should be humble enough to admit that His wisdom is infinitely superior to ours. As another old quote puts it, “Even when we can’t track Him, we can trust Him.”
That’s something that we all need to be reminded of, isn’t it? Our knowledge and understanding are so limited that we don’t know what the next second holds, to say nothing of the next day, week, month, or year. But God does, and He can be trusted to always do right. Therefore, anytime we “get real” with Him, let’s not forget to also “get real” about all the things that we don’t know about our situation. The truth is that we simply don’t have His infinite knowledge, and if we did, we’d no doubt see the wisdom of handling things exactly the way He is handling them.