“Truths to Live By” (Part 5) – “Don’t Try to Understand” by Sue Jones
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
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.”
Eleven years ago I was in a spiritual wilderness.
My faith had been shaken to its core by several painful events. My oldest child had died suddenly at the age of 17. My long marriage didn’t withstand our grief; my husband left two years later for someone else. Then, a bone infection contracted during a routine operation left me gravely ill.
I hadn’t stopped believing in God, but I no longer trusted in his goodness.
As I slowly recovered, I felt called to read my bible with new eyes, and to study theology, hoping that I would be able to understand why God allows awful things to happen.
Reading the book of Job initially made me as angry as Job himself. God takes everything away from Job, including his family – apparently for the sake of winning a wager. When Job is shown to remain faithful to God despite all these trials, he is rewarded with a new wife and new children.
I found this impossible to understand. How could precious, unique individuals, each made in the image of God, be “replaced”? How did that make everything better?
I was wrestling with this question when I reached the passage quoted. A distraught Job has been railing against God, who replies by asking why he expects to understand his purposes: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand”. (Job 38:4). God then indicates the beauty and unfathomable nature of his work in creation, and Job finally realises that these are things “too wonderful for [him] to know”.
When I came across those words I realised that I could not possibly hope to understand what God’s plan was for my daughter’s short life; I have to trust God that there is one, and that it is too wonderful for me to know.
Learning to trust God has given me my faith – and my life – back.
I cannot begin to comprehend your majesty, nor the depth of your love for me and the whole of your creation.
I pray that you would fill me with your peace, as I humbly put my trust in you.
In Jesus’ name.
Tomorrow – Savi Hensman, “Don’t Give Up”, Isaiah 42: 4