WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
God moves in mysterious ways. Some we understand, some we don’t.
We all have those, “I don’t understand,” times. We all wish we didn’t. But if we refer back to the Bible, we know that these are either times of development or opportunities to expand our judgment and/or our faith.
Sometimes what we discover is that certain events in our lives conspire, and we end up in a position where we’re experiencing a little of both. During these times, I’m not sure a deeper understanding would actually make the journey any easier. I think it may be a blessing, a huge blessing, that when we’re in the pit, instead we lean solely on faith.
Interestingly enough, I received a note via e-mail a few days ago that said, “These are the times that try women’s souls.” On reading it, I remember nodding and thinking this is not news. And yet on deeper reflection, I found it reassuring. Why?
Because for it to become universal enough to warrant such an e-mail, it had to have happened to many. It had to apply to many. And it meant that many had gotten through those times that try women’s souls or the email wouldn’t still be circulating. Well, if they can do it–get through it–then the rest of us can, too.
There was no understanding of a specific situation, no message that offered any explanation for the events occurring in any one life, or any insight into how to deal with any specific challenge. What there was, was a simple message that others have been in soul-trying positions and had found constructive solutions and gotten out of them or the message would never have been sent because it wouldn’t have resonated with anyone so they wouldn’t have bothered. At least, that’s what I took away from that message. And that is, after all, what matters. What we take away from messages or signs or insights we receive.
In times that try women’s souls, we often ask God for a sign, for guidance, for direction as well as for strength, wisdom, and help. When we do, we hope for a miraculous result. And often we do get results we consider miraculous. But sometimes the results manifest in an unexpected way that we consider odd or bizarre–anything but miraculous, and yet even in those times, when we look back on them, we see that things worked out well. Not as we expected, but well, and often better than we expected.
At still other trying times, rather than a full-blown solution to a problem, we receive a subtle message that God is with us and will help us get through the problem. No solution, but a shoulder tap that we’re not walking the walk all alone. He’s there with us for us to rely on, to lean on, to be carried when we can’t take the weight on our own feet anymore.
I read somewhere some time ago, that when we pray sometimes God says yes, sometimes he says no. True, that. But the whole truth is broader. Sometimes God answers in other ways, saying be patient, wait, or not yet. Saying, “Here’s truth, but don’t act on it. Just know, be still and trust me. Saying, “Hold on, beloved, I’m here. Always, I’m here.”
God offers us not always what we want but always what we most need. He offers reassurance, comfort and peace simply by letting us know he’s aware of what is going on in our lives. Fully informed of our struggles and crises and of our joys, too. That awareness doesn’t give us any better understanding of our current situation, or offer us concrete solutions to the challenges we face, but we do know that God is not oblivious to what is happening. And that is a powerful reassurance. It brings to our awareness that there is purpose in what is happening.
Often knowing knowing that there is a reason for what is happening that is bigger than us, even if we don’t know exactly what that reason is, well, it makes what is happening more significant, less destructive, and changes our mindset from one of suffering to willing endurance. God uses us for the greater good in such ways. He puts us in positions to gain wisdom in such ways.
Willing endurance, as challenging as it can be, expresses great faith in God and his wisdom. Perhaps that’s the purpose, at least one important purpose, that explains why we don’t always have a complete understanding of what is happening. I expect if we did, there are many things that we currently do and attempt to do that we would avoid doing. Maybe in not doing those things we would never realize our full potential. Maybe we would never experience the level of spiritual development we do develop because we’re ignorant, lacking that full understanding. And maybe with full understanding, we would not feel as reliant on God. That would be a tragedy. It would weaken our relationships with him and deny us from ever experiencing that connectedness to him we are privileged to know.
I think understanding comes to us in the manner and at the level that is best for us in specific situations. It fluctuates. In some cases, we have deep understanding; in others a surface level grasp, or whatever level in between best serves us in that given situation. We understand what is best for us to understand in his wisdom, which far exceeds our own. Our understanding, at its perfect level, gives us what we need to make judgment calls, decisions, and to decide paths that direct our lives, but stops short of running so deep that it becomes an obstacle between us and God. And maybe that is evidence that his truly is the greatest of all understanding.
None of us like stumbling around in dark hallways. None of us like groping in the darkness. Being caught in horrific challenges not of our own making. But maybe our greatest understanding is in knowing that in stumbling or running, in dark hallways or pits, when groping or stretching, we are never alone. In faith, we understand that he is with us, and that while our comprehension is limited, his is boundless.
Our limited understanding carries the gift of reliance on his unlimited understanding. That gift strengthens our bond, and assures us that through him we have the understanding we need in any given situation.
And that, I understand…