that the Lord your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do. (Jeremiah 42:3)
We all, each and every one of us, encounter those times in life when there simply does not seem to be real solution to a problem, when nothing seems to make sense at all, and the voice of God appears obdurately silent. We pray, we plead, we cry out, we fast, and we pray some more, but God seems ‘off duty’ or, at the very least, appears to be not taking our calls. The worst part is that there just doesn’t seem to be any reason for it – we’re committed to His service, to loving and obeying Him, to living lives as His temple and for His glory. So why go through these moment, and why on earth do they seem to last so long?
The elusive ‘why’ is, of course, both the very beginning of our issues and the reason why they take so long to resolve. It’s because ‘why’ can be very simply defined as the ‘manifestation of me.’ The moment that ‘why’ enters my sentences, I can be sure that ‘me’ is driving the bus. Of course, a personal reaction or response to every situation is both natural and to be expected. We are human, and were created by God to participate in life. Our senses, our emotions and our intellect are all the God-given means for us to interact with everything and everyone around us. God intends that we be on the bus – part of the trip, the experience – but He doesn’t intend that we try to drive it.
It is an instinctive human response that when we encounter a problem, we immediately try to find a solution. This, in itself, is not inherently wrong. It’s how we’re ‘wired,’ and God does nothing without specific purpose. The problem comes in when when our determination to find the right solutions becomes more important than seeking God for the right solutions. It’s a growing trend in the world at the moment to hire ‘solutions-driven’ management teams. The problem-solving ability of potential candidates has risen high on the list of desired attributes and experience. This is simply a corporate manifestation of one of the strongest human instincts and the new age principles that ‘I ameverything’ and ‘I can do anything.’
While this may seem as if we’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent, it’s integrally connected to the ‘why syndrome.’ This little word is, quite possibly, one of the most powerful words in any language. It has spawned scientists, doctors, philosophers and mathematicians. It has produced books, movies, debates and an entire branch of medicine – psychologists, psychiatrists and a whole host of ‘healers’ and counselors in every possible theory or practice. It has created complex and consuming religions. It is the place of the eternal conflict between I and God.
Finding the Wisdom of God is Accepting the Futility of Why
Christianity is the only religion in the world that confronts, challenges and overturns every ‘why.’ And this is why we struggle with it. To Satan and the flesh, ‘why’ is the secret weapon. It’s the battering ram, the insidious virus, the Trojan horse and the poisoned well. It’s the endless barrage of mortars and bombers and flaming arrows. It has this power because it’s the one thing in our human existence that remains totally and completely out of our control. It is the one thing in our entire range of human activity and experience that we will never fully understand. That makes it both our point of greatest vulnerability and also greatest conflict.
The good news is that our ‘why’ is also the place – if we are in Christ and led by the Spirit – where knowledge translates to wisdom. But it’s not the wisdom of the world, that same knowledge that drives us to seek knowledge in order to control the ‘why.’ It’s the wisdom that comes from a knowledge of God – who He is, what He is, what He has done and what He is able to do – and we get this through a knowledge of His Word and fellowship with Him. Simply put, spiritual wisdom is reaching the place of understanding that there is only one answer to the eternal ‘why,’ and that is God.
To explain this, let’s look at our bus analogy again. We’re on the bus, but God is the driver. We don’t fully know where we’re headed, and we don’t fully know why. While everything is going smoothly, it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the trip, and accept that the driver knows what He’s doing, where He’s going, why He’s going there and what He intends both along the way and when He gets there. That’s the place of comfortable faith.
But when something happens and the road is suddenly washed away, instinct clicks in and two things happen. First, out pops the ‘why.’ Why did the road wash away. Why did it wash away just when we were there? Why did it wash away when we need it most? Why is this happening? Why is this happening to me? Sound familiar? It should, because that’s you, me, and everybody else. That’s usually the first thing we do – the automatic response ingrained in all of us.
The moment we start asking why, it catapaults us into phase two – finding the solution. For a while this may simply be nagging the bus driver and throwing all kinds of possible solutions at Him – a kind of ‘this is what I think so pick one and let’s get on with it’ mentality. Remember that human beings are essentially doers by nature. We’re wired to act, to respond, and if there’s nothing overtly obvious available to do, we’ll fall back to thinking. While this is good on one level, our intellect is most often the biggest obstacle in our relationship with God because He doesn’t fit our logic, reason, and analytical preconceptions. We need to understand that God will never, ever give us the ability to define the ‘why.’ This is for our own good. Such is the pride of man that, if we ever reached this place, our self-sufficiency would exclude God and we would raise ourselves beyond the purpose and role for which we have been created. Satan himself is our rather sobering example.
Thinking, however, immediately creates limitations. We define our own solutions. In other words, we hijack the bus. We decide on what could or should be done, and then expect the driver to comply. In a sense, it’s rather like holding a gun to the driver’s head, assuring him that he’s still driving, but demanding that he drive where and how we want. We lose sight of salient truths – the driver knows the way, where and how of it. He knows the alternative routes. He knows which is safe and which is not. He knows the short cuts that turn out to be long delays. He knows everything there is to know to get that bus where it needs to be and when it needs to be there.
Finding spiritual wisdom, reaching that place of surrender and acceptance, is terribly difficult to do, especially when everything seems to be collapsing around is. But when we finally acknowledge that God Himself is the answer to every why, somthing wonderful happens. We stop demanding this and that and trying to impose our limited solutions. We start asking the questions that manifest total faith: What do You want me to do, and which is the way You want me to walk? This opens up a wealth of possibility – solutions that we could never have imagined. It opens up the exceedingly, abundanty, far more than we could ever ask or image that is God. It brings His wisdom, His power, His authority and His perfect plan – the plan that He already has, even if we can’t see it – into the situation and enables a solution that is beyond human ability or comprehension.
What a wonderful encouragement this is. His wisdom truly is far, far higher than ours. The wisdom of God is accepting the futility of why. Once we accept this we can accept that He is God – totally and completely and overwhelmingly the God of everything. This is the place where faith takes that upward turn. It’s the place where releasing actually becomes receiving, where we step back, where the reality of God is more important than human understanding. It’s a place of freedom, and it’s a place of divine intervention.
Thank You for Your grace and patience, Lord, and especially in those times where we panic and stress has us looking inward, not upward. Help us to accept that there will always be things we cannot control, things bigger than us and beyond our limited understanding. Teach us to let go, and to let You do as You see fit, and to hold fast to the truth that ‘why’ is not important. Your solution is always the best, whatever it may be.