When You Don't Get What God is Up To

11:27 AMHeather

I just don't get it.  I mean, lots of times, I don't get it.  I think I know what is going on and so easily forget that what I'm seeing or understanding is only the tip of the iceberg.  I have a really bad habit of offering my assistance and insight to God on how to keep this world running.  As if He needs my help.  

One of the most profound occurrences of this lack of understanding came back in the day when I was a full time adoptive parent caseworker.  That day, I had the task of driving a birth grandmother back to the airport following the memorial service of her biological grandson.  Whom she had not known.  Whose adoptive family she had never met until this occasion.  He was a child, killed in a senseless accident.  

I'd known her all of one day.  

"I just can't understand this.  Why would God allow this?"

She was asking the unanswerable question.  Yet, the question hung in the air, thick with its demand for an answer.

I said a quick and desperate prayer for a response to offer.  Something to provide comfort. To someone I didn't really know.  And would likely never see again.  Yet, here I was, in a crucial moment, with the opportunity to offer her a tiny glimpse of hope.

"If God were small enough to understand, then He would not be big enough for me to worship."

My answer slipped off my tongue with no thought behind it.  I knew the Holy Spirit had offered a bit of truth.  

Tears slipped from her eyes and she reached over and patted my hand.

There are so many times when we just don't get what God is up to.  Listen, we are in good company.  Because even Jesus' beloved disciples were a bit confused as Jesus explained that He was going away in John 16:5-15.  In their confusion, he offers this insight to console the impending grief of his closest companions:

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Jesus going away.  Absent.  Silent.  Unnoticeable.  

How often we find ourselves feeling this is the case.  Where is Jesus in all this?  Where is the hope?  Where is the good?  Why is this happening?

Today, I see a glaring truth that helps to wipe the cobwebs away from these seasons of suffering when God seems so far away. 

In this case, 2000 years ago, Jesus' absence was to our advantage.  His silence served a bigger purpose.  One that these disciples would not understand for quite a while.  In fact, it would get worse before it got better--before it became clear.  But there was a purpose beyond this "going away."  A good from what seemed bad.

Just a few verses later, in verse 12, I see a tandem truth that further sheds light on these dark moments when our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling.

I have much more to say to you, more than you can bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.

Sometimes, we feel He is so far away and ignoring our prayers for understanding and insight.  The silence is deafening.  

But, we see in this Scripture that sometimes He has more to say than we can bear.  It's just simply too much for us.  His ways are higher than our ways.  His thoughts higher than our thoughts.  And He is well aware of our limited understanding.  So, He offers us the Spirit of truth within us, to guide us.

Here's the picture that comes to mind.  We stand at the entrance of a dark cave.  The hallways within are winding and confusing, with many forks in the paths.  It's just too much to try to tell us how to get through it.  We cannot be given the complicated directions or overview of the lay out.  It's more than we can bear.  

So, rather than spewing out complicated and complex and perhaps even alarming overviews, God gives us a Guide.  The Spirit of truth serves not only as our flashlight, but our personal Guide.  His presence is with us at all times.  He is our Comforter.  Our Counselor.  He came only after Jesus left the earth.  And He is God within us.  Our gift from the Trinity.  Our Spirit of truth.  Our Helper.  He will guide us through the dark paths.  The ups and downs.  The pain and suffering.  The questions and hardships.  He does not leave us.  And, He does not speak on His own, but speaks only what He hears [from the Father], and he will tell us what is yet to come (John 16:13).

He will tells us what is yet to come.  When Jesus has much more to say than we can bear, God offers the Spirit to tell us what is come, in small steps, one day at a time, to get us through it.  

The love of our Father sees our limitations.  Our shortcomings. He knows them all.  And He is moved, in His great love and astounding grace, to meet our needs.  So He offers us the Holy Spirit as our Helper.  God, in His infinite wisdom, created a process of revelation to equip and inform us.  To impart His rich wisdom to us, in bite size chunks that we can digest.  All for His glory.

Can we trust Him during these times when He feels "absent?"  Can we choose to believe that He has a grander purpose and thus embrace, or at least endure, these seasons of what feels like silence?  Can I choose to trust God's orderly ultimate plans for my good, granted through His love and His grace?  Can I allow Him to work out His plans and reveal them in His ways, being assured that they are beyond what I can bear knowing all at once?  

Can I lean into His process of revelation?  Turning down the volume of my doubts and the noise of the world and train myself to listen to the Spirit as He guides me forward?

Here is the overall, overwhelming, overriding truth from this passage in John 16.

From death comes life.  Death ushers in new things.  Jesus died.  And part of God's new work born from that darkness was the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

As the barren trees begin to bloom and the grass turns green from its brown brittle state, can we be encouraged that God is working new things, new life, new promises, new seasons--even from our most difficult winters?

And our Helper will guide us, one step at a time, through our darkest nights. 

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