Pondering the "Whys" Behind Things
“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’” (John 11:40 NIV)
Almighty God permits many unexplainable things in a world in which he has created people who exercise free will. We cannot put all the pieces of the puzzle together yet, because, as the apostle Paul wrote, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). There will be a moment in the future—the “then” to which Paul refers—when we will comprehend all the apparent mysteries of life on earth. Until then, however, we must walk by faith. We must keep trusting in God, whose ways are often inscrutable yet always governed by his divine love.
This is why the apostle Paul, after expounding on the most profound mysteries involving God and man, suddenly broke out into worshipful praise:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
That God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. – Romans 11:33-36
As my friend Warren Wiersbe once told me, “When you have problems with theology, try doxology!” Sometimes we just have to bow our hearts and worship God.
It is not only tragic world events such as those we witnessed on September 11 that cause us to pause and ponder the “whys” behind things. Sometimes God’s dealings with his own people can also be very difficult to figure out. For example, Jesus said that there were many widows in Israel during the severe famine associated with the prophet Elijah, “yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon” (Luke 4:26; see 1 Kings 17:7-24). Why did God not send relief and blessing to a widow among the chosen people of Israel? Why did he choose an obscure Gentile woman in Sidon to be the beneficiary of his grace? No reason is given in Scripture, nor will we comprehend it this side of heaven.
Consider also why, if Jesus loved Lazarus so dearly, it is written, “Yet when he [Jesus] heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days” (John 11:6). Jesus’ inaction certainly baffled the disciples, but there was a reason for Jesus to respond exactly as he did that they soon understood. Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, at first were hurt by Jesus’ seeming lack of concern, but they eventually realized that it all worked out “for God’s glory” (v.4). People standing near Lazarus’ tomb saw the glory of God (v.40) and had the opportunity to believe that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 42). There is an old saying that helps us keep the right perspective: “Our disappointments are often God’s appointments.”
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from God’s Grace from Ground Zero)
Read John 11:1-44 for more on the Death of Lazarus.