Last Monday I did not know that in a week’s time I would find myself over a thousand miles away outside my mother’s chicken coop in Illinois beating off a protective rooster I was trying to feed.
Life is like this. One day you are well. The next day you need emergency gall bladder surgery, or find yourself lying in a hospital bed with a head injury. My parents had no idea what the next seven days of their lives would bring. Neither did I. I assume this was also true for the rooster. He did not know me. I was not my mother, his usual caretaker, and he was not happy.
Not knowing what lies ahead often serves as a litmus paper for our faith.
The same is true when the opposite occurs. Some of the most painful times of my life have been when I learned of a situation long after it happened. These situations, partnered with the passage of time left me holding an impossible stance. Desperately wanting to have prevented the tragedy, I have believed “if I had known” I could have altered the outcome.
I often ask God, why He gave me knowledge of these past destitute places. He has yet to offer a specific reason for such helpless assignments. In addition, because of these situations I have struggled hard against the rooting of bitterness, fear, and distrust in my life. What is His personal purpose for me in all of this? Am I supposed to sound an alarm and warn others from similar tragedies? Am I supposed to spout Christian-sounding sentiments to my fellowmen like, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” or, “All things work together for good.” Or maybe even, “If God closes a door, He’s opening a window.”
It is true that I experience general suffering from living in a fallen world–the intended perfect world now marred by sin. We all share these problems. Sickness, death, pain. However, sometimes it also seems true that God’s theme, or progression for allowing my specific distress, seems personal. It’s as if He knows (He does) what scares me the most, and then goes ahead and allows it to happen.
In complete honesty, God has yet to offer me a sane explanation for putting me in the presence of these custom-built hopeless, helpless places. I am currently banking on the idea that He is leading me to write and use my “desperate faith” to encourage others. Just as easily He could allow me to go to my grave with no explanation but “to trust Him” when all seems failing. Trust that He is in control, knows what He is doing, and is working a plan I cannot see. A plan linked to me and of a personal nature but thankfully NOT limited to my resources and knowledge.
I confess that I am sometimes overcome by the “what ifs” and “if only.” My faith “litmus” paper often turns “acidic” instead of reflecting my base. My “color change” reveals whether I am leaning on the truths of God, or my own knowledge and resources.
But then I read in Psalm 67 the following verses and begin to see past my own picture. My “knowing” and “not knowing” are of little consequence in comparison.
(v2) That Your way may be known upon earth, Your saving power (Your deliverances and Your salvation) among all nations.(v3) Let the peoples praise You [turn away from their idols] and give thanks to You, O God; let all the peoples praise and give thanks to You.
Amen, God. So let it be!