As a youngster, my son regularly proclaimed, “You don’t understand!” in frustration when I did not agree his way was best. He was convinced that if I accurately grasped his perspective, I would embrace his idea or plan.
We can feel the same way about God’s instructions and decisions. We trust our wisdom and experience because they usually serve us well. So when God’s Word tells us to do something that disagrees with our assessment, we may look for loopholes: “Surely He did not literally mean to resolve all anger before the sun set” (Ephesians 4:26) or “He cannot expect me to love someone who abused me” (Matthew 5:44). Or we may outright reject His instruction by saying it is outdated or does not apply in our circumstances.
These responses are part of our limited human understanding. And they are not new. Despite the changes in circumstances, we face the same basic temptations, challenges, thoughts, and responses as people who lived centuries ago. King Solomon noted:
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV)
People have always doubted and questioned God. One contributing factor is that He does not usually reveal His reasoning to us. I was surprised to find this verse describing God’s choice for the Israelites’ path when they were escaping Egypt:
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. (Exodus 13:17-18, NIV)
I’m sure some of the Israelites thought God made a bad choice. We have the benefit of knowing His reasons, even though they did not.
When questioned why He was washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus only offered this cryptic and unsatisfactory answer:
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7, NIV)
In reality, we do not understand. We know some things. We have some experience. But we overestimate ourselves and underestimate God. As a result, we are tempted to fight against God’s ways. We may argue, beg, plead for Him to embrace our ideas and preferences. We may reject, dismiss, or despise His ways and pursue our own path.
But we have another option, one that leads to far more life.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:2, NIV)
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5, NIV)
We can rest in God, trust Him, and yield to Him. But we must humble ourselves and acknowledge His superiority. He states this truth bluntly:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12, NIV)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (I Corinthians 1:25, NIV)
When we accept these truths, we can focus on understanding Him instead of proving ourselves. We can trust His intentions toward us rather than fighting to prove our worth. We can rest in His knowledge and character rather than having to protect, defend, and promote ourselves. In this way, we bring Him honor and glory.
But, to do this we must have an accurate view of Him. Many people think God is cruel, distant, harsh, judgmental, apathetic, or uninvolved in their lives. They do not want to obey a god like that — I would not, either! Fortunately, those are inaccurate descriptions of the God of Scripture.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (I Timothy 1:17, NIV)
He is the King. He is at the center of His realm and holds it together. He is aware of what is happening. He is engaged and decisive. He has a plan and is implementing it. He is not afraid of anyone or anything. He takes on responsibility for the wellbeing of His people. He provides for them, protects them, and genuinely cares for them.
He is eternal. God created the time in which we exist, but He is outside of time. Unlike us, He has always existed and will always exist. Our lives are just a moment of His existence. His reign will never end.
He is immortal. God will never die. He is indestructible. He is always alive and active.
He is invisible. Although we cannot see Him with our eyes, God made His nature and power visible through creation (Romans 1:20). He exists in a dimension we cannot access, yet makes Himself accessible.
He is the only God. There is no pantheon, family, or council of gods. There are no changes as different gods take control. There is no threat to His rule. He exists as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, but He is One.
That is just a taste of His character! God understands us better than we understand ourselves. He invites us to understand Him so we can follow Him wholeheartedly and find far more life.
What tempts you to think God does not understand you or your circumstances?
Looking back, can you see times when His way was better than what you thought was best?
What makes you reluctant to rest in, trust, and yield to Him?
What aspects of His character have you experienced? Which do you need to better understand to follow Him wholeheartedly?
Thank Him for offering you far more life each step of your journey!
Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso