God Never Fully Explains
God….does great things that we cannot comprehend. (Job 37:5)
Usually when we’re being trained by someone in a skill, such as athletics or music, our teacher or coach will explain the purpose of the particular drills he puts us through. Though these drills may at times be tedious and even painful, we can endure them because we know their purpose and the intended end result.
But God ever explains to us all that He’s doing or why. There’s no indication that God ever explained to Job the reasons for all of his terrible sufferings. As readers, we’re taken behind the scenes to observe the spiritual warfare between God and Satan, but as far as we can tell from Scripture, God never told Job about that.
The fact is, God hasn’t really told us, even in Scripture, why He allowed Satan to so afflict Job as he did. On the basis of the truth in Romans 8:28 (which was just as valid for Job as it is for us), we must conclude that God had a much higher purpose in allowing Satan’s onslaughts against Job than merely using Job as a pawn in a “wager” between Himself and Satan. Satan’s part in the drama seems to slip into oblivion; he’s never again mentioned after his two challenges of God in Job 1-2. The story doesn’t conclude with a conversation with Satan in which God claims “victory” over him.
Rather, the story concludes with a conversation between God and Job in which Job acknowledges that through his trials he has come into a new and deeper relationship with God. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,” Job says, “but now my eye sees you.” (42:5) We may conclude that this deeper relationship was one (but probably not all) of the results God had in mind all along.
Sometimes afterward we can see some of the benefits of adversity in our lives, but seldom can we see it during the time of the adversity.
The cry of every human heart is to understand life, especially the whys of suffering and adversity. I think few of us ever question the times of blessing and good. Somehow we seem to take for granted all the good and usually it’s during adversity that we began to wonder why things are as they are.
Countless thousands of people throughout centuries have attempted to explain life. The Chinese explain it with ying and yang, Hindus explain it with karma, Jews explain it as the law of reaping and sowing; an yet for the most part none of these explanations seem to satisfy us. Christians attempt to explain life by concluding that God has some purpose (though we have no clue what that purpose is) for the trouble we’re experiencing. Some Christians attribute it to wrong confession and thinking- ie. if we think positive and speak positive, then positive things happen but if we think negative or speak negative then negative things happen. Some believers attribute suffering as punishment for conduct and others so that God somehow gets glory from our sufferings. All these explanations still fail to calm the soul and quiet the heart as we face adversity.
We recognize that the story of Job teaches us that Satan is the author of adversity but we dare not make every adversity the result of his work only. We also know that sometimes our or someone else’s choices can be the contributor of adversity. Jesus Himself told us that as long as we were in this world we would have tribulations. He didn’t explain the whys of it, He just said it was so. Christ also told us that “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I am come that you may have life and life more abundantly.”
As we read through Scripture, we find that God provides hope and comfort during times of adversity. Sometimes we read that He delivered from adversity and at other times He walked with the person through the time of trial. We read that Jesus relieved the suffering of many and yet there were many who continued to suffer. The story of the blind man gives us insight to Christ’s answer to the cause of adversity. When the man who was blind was brought to Jesus to be healed, the disciples were focused on the cause. “Who’s sin was it that caused this blindness,” they asked, “this man or his parents?” What they were really asking was, “Whose fault is it?” And that is the question we ask today. We want to know to whom do we attribute the cause of adversity and we search for a scapegoat to lay the blame on. We focus so much attention on whose fault it is and why it is happening that we find little time to seek a solution. So it was with the disciples. Standing with the Creator of all things, who could and did give the blind man his sight, they were more caught up in the why. One thing I’ve learned in life is that for the most part, I have never discovered the why. Like most of us I have wondered why one person is healed and another remains sick, why one person gets the job and another remains unemployed, why one person lives with great blessing and provision and another who is just as qualified struggles to get by. I’ve spent time in NICU’s and observed that there are those children and parents who go home together and other parents who go home and make funeral plans. Oh how I’ve pondered these things only to conclude at the end of the day, I know not the reasons. As I read this story of the disciples and their why question and Christ’s response, I’ve concluded three things. Christ said pretty clear that the man’s blindness was not the result of his nor his parent’s sin. So we may conclude that adversity is not the result of sin, albeit we must not ignore that our choices cause consequences. However, consequences are always directly related to our choices. For example, if you speed, the consequence is a speeding ticket and not one of your children becoming ill. Sometimes we want to attribute adversity solely to our choices and conclude that we are suffering due to some failure on our part. So if we are suffering, maybe we are doing something that is adversely affecting us, for example, we are eating foods that our bodies are rejecting, then we conclude that the remedy is to either cease or to know that the consequences will occur. Once you have concluded that the suffering is the direct- hear that word, direct result of your action, then you have the option of changing the consequences.
The adversity that Christ is addressing with the blind man is adversity that is far beyond any human ability to address. It is adversity that is not a direct consequence of our action. We are not responsible for all adversity that happens, sometimes it’s just life and the unexplainable. This takes us to the answer that Christ gave the disciples. He in essence said, “Stop focusing on the cause, and look for a solution.” He told them that to know why the adversity was was not as important as seeing it as an opportunity for God to work and for God’s glory to be seen.
So I leave us with this thought today. Rather than continuing the futile task of trying to understand why you are suffering adversity and why things are as they are, why not see this as an opportunity for God to work in your life. As we come to the end of Job’s story, we find that God never answered why Job went through the adversity. Job just concluded that God’s ways and thoughts were higher than his. I think what adversity should give to us is that we come to trust God more without the need to understand. I think that one day we may understand all things but I also think that it won’t matter any longer. We have the promise that God made to Paul in his adversity, “My grace is sufficient.”
Dr. John Thompson