Applying My Heart to Understanding: Why?
Hold Fast To Your Faith
So that you incline your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding; -Proverbs 2:2
Whether death comes quick and without warning or slow and planned for, it takes with it a part of us. The vacuum that is left is always painful and impossible to fill. Regret for the lost past and being forced to let go of the future adds to our mourning. The influence the loved one had in our lives, whether large or small become evident by their death. A time of reflection follows. When the death seems unjust or especially tragic, one question will cry out louder than all the rest. Relentlessly accusing our faith and demanding an answer to its cry.
I worked with a man who fought during the Korean War. Friday nights at the furniture store were slow. Our walk-in traffic usually slowed down after 5:30 PM. We stayed open until 7:00 and often had time to twiddle our fingers. On occasion, Ed would reminisce.
I enjoy the stories the older generations tell. Their life long experiences, in some cases, have served me with foresight and truth. Their perspectives on life are usually very practical and have brought comfort and insight. Most are eager to hand down their lessons. I, in turn, am grateful for their understanding
Ed was in his 70’s. He was working at the store just to keep busy. He had sold a couple of semi successful businesses in his life. While I would not have called him rich, he did not have to work. He was about 5’5 in height, slender build with thinned well groomed gray hair. Hansom features, clean shaven and glasses that made him look distinguished. He spoke with a slight New Yorker accent that gave him a tough presence. While he was quiet, he was not shy. He had an opinion if he was asked, and sometimes, even if you didn’t ask. Physically he was in good shape but his wife was fighting a loosing battle with cancer. Even so, Ed never seemed to get “Worked up”. His nature was very solid and predictable. As Credit Manager, I had often found his counsel in dealing with people helpful.
Most Men Ed’s age spent time in the military. I find that it is a good topic in which to pass the time. This particular evening we had stumbled onto this very subject. It seems he had been haunted by a “Why” Question for all of his adult life. His question was “Why not me?”
According to Ed, he and several of his buddies had joined the Marines at the same time. As it happened, they trained together and were shipped to Korea in the same unit.
After some time passed, they found themselves in the middle of an ugly war along way from home. On this day however, He and they were standing at leisure, chatting about nothing. For no particular reason, Ed walked away deciding to go inside. At the very moment he entered the safety of the bunker a few feet away, an incoming shell hit the very spot they were standing and killed all in the unsuspecting group. He had missed death by seconds.
As he relayed the story to me, he had obviously come to terms with the incident. There was no huge show of emotion. He expressed regret for their loss and honor for their sacrifice. After a brief moment of silent reflection, he said to me, “You know Aaron; I have always wondered why God allowed me to remain. I am 70+ years old and……” He took a moment to share with me some of what he considered to be the highlights in his life. In the end, he did not feel as though he had achieved anything that merited his life being spared over the others. He felt that they could have done better given the chance. His conclusion of the matter was very simple. ”Only God knows”
Only God Knows!
I am reminded by his answer that God is all knowing. This means he knows everything! Pardon me for being redundant, but that means he also knows the answers to “Why?” and “What if?” God, the creator of all time, past, present, and future knows what is going on. He has the big picture. I believe that what is, is what must be. His plan is bigger than my understanding of the universe. I am permitted to know only what He needs me to know. I personally find comfort in this. You see I have learned to trust his judgment over mine even when I don’t understand it.
The biblical example of this that comes to mind is Job. Job had no Idea that God was using him as an example of righteousness. God did not send him a message that said “Ok Job pay attention, I had this conversation with Satan today! Now here’s the deal….” (Job 1: 7-12)
We know from reading the book of Job that tragedy after tragedy fell upon Job. As test after test of Job’s faithfulness played out, He never cursed God! His response was simply:
“Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” -Job 1:21
However, like you and I, he did ask why?
Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the Ghost when I came out of the belly? Why did the knees prevent me? Or why the breasts that I should suck? -Job 3:11-12
Job cried out for and explanation from God. He had no knowledge of any sin in his life. He, like any of us, felt used and confused!
Oh that one would hear me! Behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book. Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me. I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him -Job 31:35-3
Basically he is saying, “God talk to me. Tell me what’s going on. I’ll do whatever it takes. Why have you become my adversary?” In short, “WHY GOD?”
It’s an old question that has been being asked for a long time. Job’s faithfulness is an example to us all. His refusal to curse God puts him down in my book as the way to do it when it is my turn. I will face heartache, and mysteries will find their way to my doorsteps. However, in the end, I must be able to answer as Job does:
What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?
In the end, God rewards Job for his faithfulness by replacing all that was taken from him. He was never told in this life why his time of testing was so intense. He is never told how he passed the test and his faithfulness gave Satan a black eye. He is told however, “Trust me. I know what I am doing. I am bigger than your ability to understand. (JOB 3:7-42)
God's Word reminds me that our relationship with God is based on faith not knowledge. Trust not understanding. There are times when God allows us to know the reasons why. In those times when the answer is nowhere to be seen try to relax, take a big breath of faith and be comforted in the fact that “Only God Knows”.
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