“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
As I meditated on my current journey back into the names of God, I was touched with a sense of absolute awe, and this was the verse that came to mind. I’m sure you, like me, have been accused – by non-believers and believers alike – that we use this verse as the ‘eternal cop-out,’ our excuse for not being able to fully explain or understand the nature of God and the reasons for what He does or doesn’t do. As I sat, watching the sun set as He painted His glory across the darkening canvas, I realised that this is part of the nature of God – He is so vast, so complete, and so utterly perfect, that we will never actually understand Him or fully comprehend every facet of His eternal nature. This is, I realised, is the very heart of the nature of faith – believing even when we do not understand.
It is the nature of God that essentially defines the nature of faith, not the world with its need to understand.
The reality is that we could immerse ourselves in the Word for an entire lifetime, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else, and we would not even come close to ‘understanding God.’ The conflict arises between the intellectual understand the world and the flesh relies on and the spiritual understanding that comes with godly wisdom. There is an enormous difference between the two. Self and the world insist that we know and understand before we commit. We’re taught to investigate, ask questions, and apply logic and reasoning. If something has no scientific foundation or proven validation, it’s to be rejected. This is absolutely contrary to the nature of faith which requires that we ‘believe before we see.’
Human pride is a terrible thing. It sneaks into even the most devout life in little ways, subtly and slowly eroding our foundation in an effort to bring the house down. Of all the things demanded of us, acknowledging that we are ‘less,’ even in comparison to the almighty God of heaven and earth, is a bitter pill to swallow. We learn this as we walk alongside Him, and listen to His voice within, and learn a little more about Him each day. The fact is that human beings measure their worth, to a certain extent, by what they know and understand. Put us in a place of ignorance that cannot be denied and the inability to rationalise it, and we’re floundering in a sea of insecurity and inadequacy. The nature of faith is that we accept that what He says is true, even if it is utterly and completely illogical, impossible, and downright incomprehensible.
The truth is that these daily devotionals could be focused entirely on the names of God for the rest of our lives on earth – the sum total of all of them into eternity – and we would still not come to a place where we can say, ‘ah, I now understand completely.’ the nature of faith has to do with acceptance, not understanding. It has to do with wisdom, not knowledge. How do we, in the space of a few thousand words, define, describe, explain, and determine the full nature of Jehovah Rapha? I have no doubt that yesterday’s devotion left all us with perhaps more questions than answers. One small glimpse into this single part of the nature of God is simply insufficient. It is guaranteed to bring us to the place where we must confess that we do not understand. This is the place of faith, the place of wisdom, and the place of acceptance.
The joy of the Word is that it, like His blessings, is ‘new every morning.’ We can read this verse today, and when we read it next week, it will reveal something entirely new, deeper, richer, and more eloquent. As we grow and begin to live in the full nature of faith, we learn spiritual wisdom. We learn to discern what is behind the Word as well as in it. We learn to look beyond mere knowledge to the deeper things of God. And we learn to cast aside the need to understand, because real wisdom means accepting that we cannot and will not ever understand the full, awesome, powerful, sovereign nature of God.
In the world, understanding implies a general, surface grasp while comprehension is complete and in-depth, a greater level of understanding. The spiritual persepective is a little contradictory. On a spiritual level, comphrehensive does not mean greater understanding or complete understanding that comes out of greater knowledge, reasoning and knowledge. Spiritual comphrension is not a rational intellectual exercise. It is the far greater, broader, wider, and deeper acceptance that His ways are not our ways, that His ways are far higher than our ways, that they are beyond our ability and capability to reason, rationalise, and fully understand. Comprehension, from the spiritual persepective, is finally reaching that place where we understand only one thing: God is infinitely higher and greater than we can define or imagine, and we can never even hope to ‘fully comprehend’ Him at the human level. This is where the nature of faith demands the letting go of all our fleshly and worldly expectations.
Our joy and assurance lies in the fact that our God, in His absolute grace, has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His Word and through illustrating His names – and therefore His nature – through vibrant, real human examples. We don’t read it, we see it. He paints pictures for us in the real drama of human lives. His Word is a manifestation of Himself. Its power lies in the fact that its a living Word. You and I can read the same verse and receive different revelation in that moment. What He reveals is what we need. What we see tomorrow is different, because tomorrow’s need is different. Each time we go back to a particular verse, He speaks to add meaning, relevance, and wisdom. He never contradicts Himself. We can be sure that, when this may appear to be the case, He is simply revealing a deeper level of truth. The nature of faith is that we do not have to understand the truth. We simply need to accept it and believe it.
There is a wonderful sense of release in coming to the place of acceptance. It’s the place of laying down, of releasing, of letting go all the things of the world and the flesh that seek to impose themselves over the reality of God. We will always struggle with the conflict that is constantly raised between the nature of understanding and the nature of faith. But as our comprehension grows – as He instils in us the wisdom that lifts us beyond the limitations of simple human understanding – it is a wonderful thing to know that it doesn’t matter that I do not understand. God’s supreme glory and power – the vast reality of I AM – is not affected at all by the fact that I cannot explain Him fully. He is. That is all that matters, and the nature of faith receives that in joy, peace, and thanksgiving.
It is the greatest joy and relief to accept that we don’t have to ‘justify’ God to others, be they believers or non-believers. We simply need to live the nature of faith, the life of ‘Lord, You are’ to the fullest measure of what He has revealed to us. We can do so in the assurance that He knows our need. Jehovah Jireh will provide for that need, be it great or small, and Jehovah Rapha will work in us to heal those places that struggle with this ‘unworldly’ reality. We need only to immerse ourselves in His Word, to reach our to Him through what He reveals, and to know that, tomorrow, and the next day, and the week, month, or year after, He will release a little more to the heart hungry to know Him, not understand and rationalise Him.
In seeking to define and explain God by human understanding, we close ourselves off from the full majesty and power His name brings. We limit His work in us and through us. We don’t need to explain or justify God. We simply need to surrender, to accept, and to allow Him to reveal Himself and His eternal truth through us, just as He did through each of those living examples He gives us in His Word. The nature of faith is simply living in the joyful acceptance of truth, not in understanding.
Forgive us, Lord, for the moments where we have relied on wordly wisdom and our own intellect, where we’ve felt the need to justify You, or to explain what is beyond human reasoning or logic. Help us to live in the full nature of faith – to take hold of the wisdom only You can bring, to seek to comprehend rather than understand, and to joyfully live the truth that You reveal in and through our lives.