Discussing loss, unfair situations, and why bad things happen to good people, I recently shared with a friend: “I’ve come to understand I won’t always understand.” Our other friend then added “that’s where faith comes in”. Exactly. Faith means understanding we won’t always understand.
God didn’t promise us life would be easy. Actually, Jesus tells us the opposite in John 16:33:
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Yet, He also is okay with our questions and wondering. Wrestling with whys is a first step but staying there isn’t productive. At some point we need to decide. Will we continue to ask why or step forward in faith? Will we trust God will work it all out all for our good or will we wander in the land of why?
I’ve wondered and wandered with why’s and landed on this truth: I won’t always understand. I don’t understand why God takes children or those who love Him and are doing His work. Or why some are impacted by mental &/or physical pain, disease, poverty, or inequality and others are not. But I do understand God is here. He is here in my wondering and my and other’s pain and affliction. He is present and working in what seems unfair and as we wander.
After years of worry-filled wandering, I’ve learned a few things. Sharing my peace and lack of understanding of difficult things with my friend surprised me. Reflecting on how I came to this peace lead me to a few steps.
Here are a few steps and tips to find peace instead of worry or whys:
- Trust God is in control and working. Some things only God can do. The sooner we let go of trying to control what only God can do, the faster we can focus on what only we can do. But letting go takes faith. If struggling with this, pray and ask God to increase your faith and then let go (even a little) and see what happens.
- Decide and do what only we can do. When we let go of trying to control everything, we can focus on what only we can do, which often is a lot. Sometimes it’s tangible things like helping, obeying, or stepping out of our comfort zone. Maybe it’s focusing on our physical and mental health and not worrying. Other times, it’s simply praying for God’s will to be done (and actually meaning it). If decisions are difficult, start and practice consistency with small decisions.
- Be proactive rather than reactive. Often we know what we need to do for ourselves or others, but procrastinate, hesitate, or swirl in the what if’s. Instead, just do it-whatever “it” is. Help someone, do the hard thing, make the difficult decision, and be who God wants us to be. While this may be more challenging, God will always be with us if He leads us to it. Lean into His strength.
- Thank and praise God. Understanding we won’t always understand allows us to realize we’re not in control. Giving Him our praise and thanks even in our lack of control reinforces our faith our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Friend. This leads to His peace.
These steps help us live not always understanding why, but always understanding the One who does is with us. In this I find His peace. Knowing and trusting even if I don’t understand, He does and He’s with me is enough.
We may not always comprehend what God is doing, but we can decide to trust Him, listen, and be obedient with our lives. It’s a decision we each must make, and it’s founded in faith. Indecision is still a decision. So let’s decide. Will we trust God and faithfully move forward or wander and wonder why?