Better Than Answers

Straight From the Heart
An Inspirational Message From Richard Exley

Better Than Answers

"God must sometimes risk our misunderstanding in order to do what's best for us. And we are simply too 'young,' too finite, to comprehend His infinite wisdom."

Believing that God is omnipotent – that He is all-powerful, that He can do all things – is easy enough for most of us. Believing that He cares takes considerable more faith, especially in light of the persistent suffering so evident in our world. It is harder still to believe that He is willing to intervene on our behalf. We know He has done it for others, but believing He will do it for us often seems just out of our reach.

Herein lies the tension in which we live. On the one hand we have the clear teaching of Scripture portraying God as an all-powerful heavenly Father who is anxious to intervene on behalf of His suffering children. On the other hand we are confronted with the reality of painful situations that seem immune to our most desperate prayers. If God genuinely cares, if He is truly touched by the feelings of our infirmities, then why doesn't He do something?

As I grapple with such thoughts, I'm reminded of a young couple in a congregation where I served as senior pastor. They were expecting their first child and they prayed earnestly that everything would be perfect. They prayed that their baby would have perfect health, a gentle disposition, and a spiritual aptitude. According to their theology, this should have assured them of a perfect child. Imagine their bewilderment when their newborn daughter cried incessantly. In addition to the obvious concern they had for her well being, they were also tormented with self-doubt and questions regarding their faith.

Needless to say, they were overwhelmed. In desperation they came to see me. "Why," they demanded, "did God not answer our prayers? We prayed in faith. We did everything we were taught to do, so why didn't it work?"

The answers I could have given them might have technically answered their questions, but they would not have resolved the real issue. Consequently, I chose to simply assure them of God's love and faithfulness.

A few weeks later the doctor discovered that their baby was suffering from a hernia, and surgery was scheduled. The appointed day arrived, and I went to the hospital to be with them. Long before I located the parents I could hear the baby wailing. Her anguished cries echoed forlornly down the long hospital corridors. Turning a final corner, I saw the young mother nervously pacing the hallway trying to comfort her baby, while her husband looked on helplessly.

Approaching her I asked, "What seems to be the problem?"

"She's hungry," the distraught mother replied. "The doctor told us not to feed her after ten o'clock last night."

"Surely you're not going to let that stop you?" I asked with a straight face.

"What do you mean?" she asked, puzzled.

"Your baby is obviously hungry and not to feed her is terribly cruel."

She looked at me like I had lost my mind. Finally she said, "It's dangerous to undergo surgery on a full stomach, especially for a baby."

Without giving her a chance to finish I interrupted. "Well, at least explain that to her. She must think you are a sadist. You carry her in your arms next to your breast, but you won't feed her. As young as she is she knows you could feed her if you wanted to, if you really cared."

"Don't be silly," she said with forced calmness, "you can't explain something like this to a three-month-old baby."

Gently I said, "I know what you are doing is an act of love. I know you have your baby's best interest at heart. But she doesn't understand that, and you're right, there's no way you can explain it to her."

Understanding began to brighten her tense features, so I continued, "That's the way it is with God. He is too wise to ever make a mistake, and too loving to ever cause one of His children needless pain. Still, He must sometimes risk our misunderstanding in order to do what's best for us. And we are simply too 'young,' too finite, to comprehend His infinite wisdom."

Like that young couple, you may be facing a crisis right now, and like them you may be asking why. You may even be tempted to rail at God about the apparent injustice of life, the unfairness of it all. Don't. That is just an exercise in futility. Instead encourage yourself in the Lord (1 Sam. 30:6). Strengthen your faith by affirming your confidence in God's goodness, in His sufficiency, and in His willingness to do what is best for you. Accept the fact that in this life we only "...see through a glass darkly...[we only] know in part..." (1 Cor. 13:12 KJV). Do this, and God will grant you a supernatural peace that is based on trust rather than understanding.

This is Richard Exley Straight From the Heart.