Divine Perspective of the Incomprehensible

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2

I read the prayer request, marked “URGENT!” A little girl was missing. Immediately my heart went out to the parents who didn’t know where their daughter was. I have experienced that panic on occasion, but never for more than an hour. I prayed for “peace that surpasses understanding” for them, protection and rescue for their little girl, and for the angels of heaven to surround her.

That night, waking up every couple of hours, my mind went back to the situation … “Lord, please protect her … Surround her with Your angels … Rescue her…” before drifting back to sleep.

The next day I got another email from the church. The little girl’s body had been found.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it – What went wrong? Were we not praying hard enough? Was there something else that could have been done? How —?

But no answers came.

———————————————————————————————————————————

That night we went with our daughter’s family to a Christmas festival, part of which was music being performed all evening in one of the old churches.

The huge sanctuary has a massive dome overhead that resembles an expanse of sky as much as anything can without being actual sky. Painted everywhere against the backdrop of blue are angels holding out scrolls with words of Scripture on them. A tier of them encircling the dome hold the names of the fruits of the Spirit and other biblical virtues, another tier holding scrolls with the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” etc.) Stained glass windows depict scenes from the life of Christ, and the entire decor is more ornate than any other church I’ve ever seen in this country.

If the purpose of all this is to turn our thoughts toward heaven – mission accomplished. The moment one steps into this house of worship, the visual is overwhelming enough. But we arrived just as the choir and full orchestra were performing the Halleluia Chorus from Handel’s Messiah in the balcony, and the effect was breathtaking. We were too close to the back to see them, so it was easy to imagine that the song was coming from heaven itself as it bounced off the painted angels. As I sang along, gazing at the celestial scenery surrounding us, I felt as though we were getting a small taste of what it must be like in heaven itself – in the presence of God in all His glory.

King of kings! And Lord of lords!” we sang. “And He shall reign forever and ever!

Then suddenly my mind turned to darker things, and since He knows my thoughts anyway, I asked the Lord a blunt question.

If You’re the King of kings and Lord of lords, WHY did You let that happen to that little girl?

He didn’t strike me dead with lightning for questioning His ways. He knew I wasn’t trying to be a brat. I recognized His greatness and knew that if anyone had the answer, He did. I just wanted so desperately to understand and to know that He can still be trusted.

The man Job, who possibly went through more pain and loss than any other human being, asked the LORD similar questions and waited a long time before God finally showed up. And the answer came in a long series of questions, starting with, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4)

I think I got a similar answer, although I didn’t hear specific words. I only heard the singing get more magnificent, the sense of His presence more overwhelming. … I knew He was reminding me: He’s God. I’m not.

But I still wondered, WHY???

Then, it struck me.

She’s there.

While this brief moment in time was a taste of heaven for us – that little girl is experiencing the real thing. She’s in the presence of God – forever. And from there she is seeing things far differently from the way we see them.

We prayed she’d be rescued – She was.

We prayed she’d be surrounded by angels – She is.

We prayed she’d be protected – She is. No evil person or thing will ever be able to touch her again.

Whatever she went through, she’s not going through it now. As horrific as it was, and though it was pure evil that we may never understand it in this life, it’s over. She’s home free. And although we will weep for her family in the agonizing days and years ahead, we shouldn’t weep for her. She is better off than any of us who are here.

She won’t ever have her teenaged heart broken, or feel the stress of being unemployed, injured or diseased. She’ll never suffer widowhood, natural disasters, betrayals of friends, miserable consequences of bad choices, watching her aging body deteriorate, and every other experience that makes us long for heaven while we’re in these finite bodies. She’s skipped all that. (I could almost envy her.)

Of course, life doesn’t consist of just pain. It also contains many joys and pleasures – friends, music, good food, the beauty of nature, marriage, and having children and grandchildren. We tend to weep for those who will miss out on those things. And yet every good thing in this life is a mere shadow of what awaits us in heaven, which they’re already enjoying.

If you’ve lost someone you love, especially if it was in horrific circumstances, I don’t expect these words to change your feelings. And I know I can’t begin to know what you’re going through. I do know pain has a way of screaming at us at full volume, threatening to drown out the truth. But we must hold onto that truth. If we don’t, nothing will make sense, our lives will be hopeless, and the enemy will have won.

But in the end, he loses. GOD WINS.

Prayer: O Lord, I don’t know why You showed me what You did the other night. I am not the one who needed it. I haven’t lost a child, and I have no way of truly knowing how it feels. I feel presumptuous even speaking of such things. Please comfort those who are experiencing excruciating, unspeakable grief. The rest of us want to help, but You are the only One who has the power to cure the incurable. We can only offer our prayers, and for what it’s worth, we do that now. In Jesus’ name, amen.

18 thoughts on “Divine Perspective of the Incomprehensible

  1. In a letter C.S. Lewis sent to Sheldon Vanauken (reported in “A Severe Mercy”) he states “Of course He often seems to be playing fast and loose with us. The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog. They misread the signs. Their ignorance and their wishes twist everything.”

    If we consider that we are so much farther removed from the Mind of God that our understanding and a dog’s seems very close, how much more will our ignorance and wishes twist the will of The God Who Is, so that like a dog wanting to leap into a field and constrained by its Master, He constrains us with a Will that seems sometimes opposed even to what we “think” we understand He would want to do.
    Like the doggy, “Why doesn’t Master WANT to run in this field with me? What is He doing!?”

    But like the dog, we must trust the Master, that He only designs all His plans for our good, and we will not understand all the details until we see Him, no longer “in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”

    Perhaps you already see better than most of us; certainly, better than me, as you have more experience in looking into the “perfect law of liberty” (itself a contradiction in terms to the unregenerated mind).
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

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  2. Even when we get some answers it’s hard. Bitter sweet in a way. What I know in my head from God’s word and what I feel in my heart walk through the same woods but on different paths. I am still able. however, to sing “Good Good Father”

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    1. Gary, I like the image of what we know and what we feel walking different paths in the same woods. I often (daily) thank the Lord that my emotions don’t get to rule me or define me. It’s nice when our feelings confirm the truth, but God’s truth stands alone and doesn’t need my confirmation (or anyone else’s). We can choose to hold onto Him, whether we feel like it or not.

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  3. Another example is Naomi in the book of Ruth. Her whole world came crashing down around her with the death of her husband and two sons. While she mistakenly thought the hand of the Lord was against her, she never turned her back on him. God remained silent on his purpose. In fact she would die never fully understanding what the Lord had accomplished through her affliction and grief. But she remained faithful, true to the requirements of the law given through Moses, and was always blessing people around her no matter her own circumstances. Of course, we now know that through her, God would set in motion a prophetic path to Messiah. We don’t know what the Lord is doing and he is not obligated to tell us. But if we remain faithful no matter what, it could possibly be that he is working something amazing that we may never see.

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  4. God answered you, Annie, and shared with you truth and wisdom simply because you dared to ask. Good for you. More people should “ask” God questions instead of just “wondering.” Yes, knowing the truth takes faith, sometimes a lot! Some things are difficult for us to understand, but we must remember that His ways are higher than ours, and so are His thoughts. (Isa. 55:8-9)

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  5. Annie, thank you for writing and sharing this piece. I find Gary’s comment to be very true to my life–I can acknowledge God’s a good good Father but I often have to wrestle with my emotions despite believing the truth. I lost my son to suicide 15 years ago and for some reason, this Thanksgiving and Christmas I’ve wrestled with depressive emotions with a fierce intensity. Grief is a long unpredictable journey but one thing I know. . . God is God and His thoughts and ways are greater and more righteous than mine.

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    1. God bless you, Manette. I do not for a minute believe that knowing the truth means we will always understand it or feel OK with it. But to acknowledge that God is still great and that His ways are greater than ours, whether we understand them or not … this is true faith, and I know He will reward you for your faithfulness to Him. I for one am really looking forward to the day the fog will lift and we see Him in all His glory. It may not feel like it now, but that day it will all be worth it.

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  6. Such a meaningful post, Annie. You’ve brought to mind a scripture passage I turn to every time pain and trouble arise: “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:34-36). We desire the answer to “why” when calamity strikes, but even if God revealed the reasons, I have a feeling we still wouldn’t be satisfied. Our next response would likely begin with “But . . . !” Much as we’d like to, our finite minds can’t understand the “depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (v. 33), as He wields His sovereign power. Our best response is simply to trust. (Please remind me what I just wrote when circumstances call for it!)

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  7. P.S. Annie, I tried to reply to you at my blog where you left a link to this post, but for some reason WordPress wouldn’t allow it. So let me say here that the wonder of God’s promises is a very worthy category to add to our list, and one we can enjoy every day. Thank you!

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