Father knows best

Numerous books have been written on the subject I’m about to address. Many of those books were authored by learned theologians. So it’s with a bit of trepidation I climb out on this limb. Yet I do so in hopes of providing some encouragement to fellow pilgrims, non-theologians like myself.

It’s a rare person who hasn’t had a few “Why, God?” experiences in life. From mundane irritations to unspeakable losses, things happen to us and those we love that don’t make sense, at least not from our finite human perspective. Not surprising since the Lord declares his thoughts and ways are higher than ours. [1]

Job, an upright and blameless man who feared God[2], endured multiple calamities and is often referenced as an example of patience under duress. After Job lost his children and his property and he was struck with loathsome sores[3], he refused to curse God and die as his wife recommended.[4]  Nonetheless, Job grew weary of his friends’ attempts to console and explain. He started to wonder why God had seemingly removed his favor and he longed for a return to the days when his life was sweet. He recounted his deeds before God, trying to understand why such misery had befallen him. For me, Job’s questioning is what makes him so relatable, so human. Even those of us who’ve walked with the Lord for years have times when we question and wonder and doubt.

God didn’t answer Job with a detailed explanation of his circumstances. Instead he posed questions of his own.[5] God’s queries opened Job’s eyes to the awesome power and wisdom of the One he questioned, leading him to declare, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.” [6]

Although God doesn’t owe us an explanation, there are times when He graciously allows us to see some reasons things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to. Several examples from my life:

  • Some years ago, a position opened up at work. I requested a change, thinking it would be perfect for me and was disappointed when the assignment went to one of my colleagues. It was then I found out the job description had been rewritten, with the role becoming more technical in nature – not perfect after all. The business developed a new role, focused on color and design, which I was better suited for and filled for the remaining 14 years of my career.
  • When my parents told the seller of the house they chose to buy they were moving to this area to help their widowed daughter, she recounted how the house had been under contract a few months earlier but the deal fell through. Her explanation upon hearing my parents’ story: “God must have been saving this house for you.”
  • Soon after I finished my internship at a local botanical garden, a part-time staff position opened up. A chance to start a new career path? I applied, but didn’t get the job. Now, with four years’ hindsight, I see numerous reasons it was best I wasn’t chosen for the job.

As you might imagine, losing my husband, Ray, to a fatal heart attack at age 39 has been the most why-provoking event of my life. It doesn’t make sense that a kind, godly husband and father would be taken from his wife and young daughters, but it doesn’t have to. I’ve come to accept it as part of God’s plan for us. The glimpses God’s given me regarding other, less life-changing situations like the examples above provide touchstones of reassurance. I trust he’s working out his good and perfect plan for me even when I don’t understand. That trust has deepened over the years as I’ve come to know God more intimately than I would have had my earthly husband and provider been present.

Who knows? The Lord may be protecting us from unforeseen consequences, refining our character, using our circumstances to encourage others and draw us closer to himself, or any number of other possibilities we cannot even imagine. Regardless, we can remain confident, trusting that Father knows best. After all, he’s the One who promises to work all things together for good for those who love him.[7]

[1] Isaiah 55:8-9

[2] Job 1:1

[3] Job 2:7

[4] Job 2:9

[5] Job, chapters 38-40

[6] Job 40:4

[7] Romans 8:28

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