As I said, if our faith is conditioned on understanding everything, we’ll never believe. God often provides no explanation for his ways. Instead, he gives us a revelation of his character.
God let Job know that his Redeemer lived, even in the darkest days of his suffering, and assured Job that he would stand victoriously on earth with that Redeemer someday (Job 19:25). In Job’s bitterest moments, he discovered God walking with him through the pain, and he knew that one day his Redeemer would weave it together into a beautiful story of victory that eclipsed the pain.
In many cases, we have to live out our days not knowing the precise reason for terrible events. But the cross shows us what they cannot mean. They cannot mean that God is absent or out of control.
At the cross, we see God willingly enter into our suffering. There he did more than promise to fix our pain; he immersed himself in it. And there we see that even when things looked like they were out of control, they really weren’t. If there ever were a time when it looked like God had lost control, it was on the day Jesus was crucified! Evil, it seemed, had triumphed at last. Now, however, we realize that there had never been a time when God was more in control. In the cross, he took the worst atrocity in human history—the murder of his Son—and turned it for his glory and our good.
Isn’t it possible that God is doing that same thing now in your pain?
The cross both reveals God’s intentions for the world and gives us insight into how he accomplishes them. He works in all things for his glory and our salvation.
Exactly what God is doing in particular situations may remain a secret, but what he is doing through all of them is not. He is making us love Jesus more and look more like him (Rom 8:28–29). He is preparing us for endless joy and pleasure (Ps 16:11). Sometimes we may not be able to see the silver lining behind the dark cloud. But the cross is the evidence that it’s there. Even in the darkness, we know our Redeemer lives.
King David, suffering through a dark chapter of his own, expressed his faith in the character of God with these words—words that have brought solace to my heart during some of my darkest and most confusing hours:
My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore. (Ps 131)
Some things were simply “too wonderful” for David to understand, too “great” for his small mind. So during the pain, he clung tightly to the God who cared for him more than a new mother cares for her infant child. We may not understand all our Father’s ways, but we know him. The cross reveals him. Even where we can’t trace his hand, we can trust his heart.
Sometimes, from the depths of confusion, pain, or loss, we must simply gaze at the cross and empty tomb of Jesus and say,
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus;
just to take him at his word;
just to rest upon his promise;
just to know, ‘Thus says the Lord!’
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him!
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace, to trust him more!
Let me be clear: I still don’t understand everything God is doing in my life, and I probably won’t until I meet Jesus face to face. What I do know is that God has revealed his intentions for me clearly in the cross of Jesus.
God is too big for me to base my trust in him on my ability to figure him out. I trust him because I know that my Redeemer lives. I have no doubt that when I look back on history from the vantage point of eternity, I’ll see that he was infinitely worthy of that trust.
What I’ll surely be confused by in eternity is how a God of such infinite power and purity could have loved me. Scripture, after all, presents him as a God of unblemished purity. The greatest mystery of the universe is how we, a corrupted and traitorous race, can still hope to spend eternity in his presence. This is where most people diminish God—where their God is not God enough—so we’ll turn our attention there next.
Greear, J. D., and David Jeremiah. 2018. Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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