043: When We Don’t Understand God

Devotional On Romans 11:33-35

When We Don't Understand God

I was in my car, driving home, and yelling at God.  I was certainly not at my best, but I was absolutely confused, hurting and angry.  One of my friends had just died of brain cancer.  Because our church had fasted and prayed, I felt that we had somehow did what was needed to earn a miracle.  A miracle never came, and I questioned God just like an arrogant and inexperienced child treats a parent they feel is inept.  What do you do when you don’t understand God?  Thank God I’ve grown from that experience.  I’ve learned how moments of confusion can become empowering God encounters.

 

In Romans 11:33-35, Paul helps us understand How To Place Ourselves In A Powerful Position When We Don’t Understand God

 

This passage is the ending of Paul’s explanation of God’s complicated plan to save humanity.  It’s a plan that included rejecting the Jews and subjecting everyone to disobedience.  Paul praises God not because He’s arbitrary, but for having a depth that we cannot comprehend.

It’s ok if you often don’t understand God.  He’s complicated.  So, here’s what you can do to empower yourself when you don’t understand.

 

1.     Don’t question God

Yes, you can ask God anything you’d like to.  That’s not really the kind of questioning I am referring to.  There’s a certain kind of questioning that’s more of a challenge than a question.  It’s the kind of questioning a child does with parents when the child thinks the parents are wrong.

Never question God.  The depth of material that God sorts through and carries in His mind all the time is beyond our ability to manage.  God has a depth of understanding that you and I can’t compete with.

Questioning God doesn’t strengthen your position, it weakens it.

 

2.     Trust God 

God really does have a very deep understanding.  What Paul writes in this passage is true of God.  He has done everything that needed to be done in order to turn a worse case scenario into a best case scenario for humanity.

Always trust God.  God has told us that He loves us and that He’s working for our benefit (as long as we believe in Jesus).  We need to trust that He knows the answer to all of our questions, and that we probably couldn’t understand the answer or the depth of His complex plan to save humanity.

One day we’re probably going to understand what life was really about.  But, probably not today.  One day we’ll be like Jesus is now, and when we are we’ll probably be more enabled to understand.  Until then, trusting Jesus is the most empowering thing we can do.

 

How do you Place Yourself In A Powerful Position When You Don’t Understand God?

You trust Jesus, without treating Him like you know better.

He’s going to get you to a better place.  One day, the glory we’ll experience will more than compensate for the lack of knowledge we have today.  Just trust Jesus, and hang onto Him your whole life.

 

What about you?

What do you do when you don’t understand God?  How do you respond to moments when God’s will absolutely confuses you?

Did you see something different in the text?

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When You Don’t Understand God

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16 thoughts on “043: When We Don’t Understand God

  1. That’s all fine and great; but, God left us a book explaining many of the situations we don’t necessarily understand. A phrase that has become common over the past while really irritates me: “We’ll just have to agree to disagree”. While this statement is normally delivered with the best intentions of avoiding conflict, it is also frequently a cop out. It is frequently a way people state their opinion but are not willing to defend it.

    Yet, Peter instructs us to defend our beliefs:

    ” but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” [1 Peter 3:15]

    In doing so, we “honor Christ”. Isn’t that our ultimate goal?

    The challenge is the second part of the passage – to “do it with gentleness and respect”. Many of us are not capable of “gentleness and respect”. Further, many of us “expect” that those we are talking to are not capable of “gentleness and respect”. The reaction – shut down the conversation, do not defend your belief, and fail to honor Christ.

    • Thanks for the comment, Michael,

      I agree, moments of confrontation are a part of a Believer’s calling, particularly as we identify ourselves as Believers who believe in a truth that is absolutely objective.

      I’m not really sure how defending our beliefs is connected with the post, though. In the moments where we are not really sure what God is doing, and we are too weary or teary to look up and dig into the Bible because we’re not thinking really clearly, the points “Don’t question” and “Trust” come in handy.

      • Rick sez >>”the points “Don’t question” and “Trust” come in handy.”

        Come in handy for what!? I don’t recall Commandment #11 “Thou shalt not question God”. Reference . . . ?

        Of course we question God. God created us as family, with a questioning mind; and that’s the way family interacts.

        The great patriarchs of the faith questioned God; and if that was in any way wrong, God wouldn’t have wasted so much space in Scripture addressing the matter.

        Like in the case of Job three chapters of the Book of Job were devoted to Gods’ response to Job’s questions.

        One of my favourites is when Moses questioned God, after God told Moses He was going to destroy All of Israel and start a new nation from the progeny of Moses. Moses opposed God, telling God what a totally daft idea saying: “God, if you ever did something that stupid You would not only be breaking your oath, but no one would believe anything you said ever again.” So God apologized to Moses, admitting that Moses was right, and that He, God had totally screwed up and that it was a totally daft idea. (Exodus 32:9-14)

        “The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”

        Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”

        “So the Lord REPENTED of the EVIL which He said He would do to His people.”

        Throughout Scripture God is questioned a multitude of times by those of the faith. Of course we question God, each and every step of the way. That’s what is means to be FAMILY, and part of the FAMILY of God.

        God is our Father, and viewing Him as some sort of unapproachable autocrat is SO destructive. My memories go back so vividly to the revelation I received from reading A
        Scripture way back when I was just a kid: “I will be a Father to the Fatherless.” And He has truly been a Father for the past 60 years. They have been really good years to which I can only respond with thanks and thanksgiving for every step of the way.

        Your favourite heretic
        Stan

      • Perhaps it is just me. When I am weary or teary, those are the moments I dig deepest into God’s Word.

        When God left placed us in this Earth, everything was perfect. After man completely messed things up, God left us something akin to an “Owners Manual”. It’s long, it’s complicated and it’s detailed. I find, however, it usually has an answer.

        If we dig deep enough into the Word, we can often prepare for the storm before it arrives.

        There was a woman, at a Church I formerly attended, who taught a perverted gospel to the youth of the Church. She taught that if we become a Christian, and if we place our faith in Jesus Christ, we would experience “No Pain – Ever”. Unfortunately, the youth were not taught to critically examine the Bible, and had a tendency to listen to the youth leaders without question. They bought that tripe “hook, line and sinker”.

        If one were to debate with the woman or any of those she had taught, they would simply say “we’ll have to agree to disagree”.

        When they inevitably experienced the pain of this world, they were ill-prepared to question God by going to His Word to find the answer or explanation.

        So much damage … so much carnage.

        Anyway, that’s just an illustration of what happens when one doesn’t question God by examining His Word.

        • I really don’t think we’re disagreeing here. I also am bugged by the phrase, “agree to disagree” when it’s used as a copout. In the case of your previous church, it sounds like it should have been her overseer confronting her.

          To the issue of the post, I was speaking to our doubt. And, I tried to say that, although quickly. Finding the answers to your questions in the Bible is absolutely a good thing. However, … however… demanding God to be accountable to you is not a great idea. “Questioning” rooted in the assumption that God must be the one that’s wrong is a starting point that leads to correction more quickly than real answers. “Questioning” God from a disposition of doubt doesn’t help us when we’re in trouble.

          Go ahead and ask any question you want of God. And, dig into the Bible often to get all your questions answered. But, when you find yourself in the middle of trouble, it’s a poor place to start when your assumption is that God has done something wrong, or has forgotten you, or is out of control.

          • Now I get what you are trying to say.

            Questioning God is not wrong … Doubting God is the issue.

            God’s responded to Job’s doubt in Job 38 by saying something to the likes of “Duh …. What are you, stupid? I’m God !!”

          • Yep. You know, in hindsight, I may have been able to do a better job communicating in that post. It would have been just as easy, and more clearly understood, if I used “Don’t Doubt God” rather than using the word “Question.”

  2. When Moses responded to God, confronting God with His plan to wipe out Israel, he told God: ‘God, I doubt that this is a very good idea; I doubt the wisdom of your idea, in fact I think your idea is totally daft, and God, you will become the laughing stock of all humanity if you pull a stunt like this!’ How did God respond to Moses’ questioning and doubt regarding God’s wisdom? Did God say ‘How dare you question ME!” Nope, God revered Moses’ doubt, and REPENTED of EVIL. He had planned.

    “The Lord REPENTED of the EVIL which He said He would do to His people.”

    Anyway, that’s the way my Bible reads, and IMO, important information, when learning about the nature of God.

    • Stan, that’s an interesting perspective. To me, though, regarding the particular passage you’re referencing, it looks like Moses was acting as the mediator that God set him up to be. Moses was mediating for the people, asking God to relent – frankly, he had no doubt that God had the ability to do what He said, and He knew that God was about to do it.

      Regarding doubting, I’m not suggesting it’s not the unpardonable sin. However, it’s just not helpful at all. For example, When we find ourselves within a crisis, like Peter did when he found himself walking on water, responding to God by doubting failed Peter. Matthew 14:31, “Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt me?'” Peter was forgiven, but also reprimanded for his doubt.

      Doubting is a poor platform to communicate to God from, particularly while a person is in a crisis.

  3. Yes “he [Moses] had no doubt that God had the ability to do what He said, and He knew that God was about to do it.”

    Moses was quite convinced that God was going to renege on Covenant His promises to Israel, a point where Moses was figuring. if God is that kind of lowlife whose word means nothing, then that’s not the kind of God I intend to follow!

    The only God Moses knew was the God of the vengeance and anger, who didn’t hesitate to destroy the entire world, except for 8 people in the Ark. Then there was the Sodom and Gomorrah episode where God left nothing behind other than a pillar of salt.

    So, when God said He was going to wipe out Israel, there is no reason to suspect that the God he had come to know, would do exactly what he said He was going to do! The God Moses knew, was a God who was always screwing up, and then repenting of His screw up, like in this instance, Moses also recorded another Godly screw up: “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Genesis 6:6

    When you say ” it looks like Moses was acting as the mediator that God set him up to be ” to me it seems there is only ONE mediator between God and man; and His name is not Moses! 🙂

    So . . ultimately this has all been a learning experience for both God and us. As God attempts to create a new family, He admits that He has screwed up more than once, not only destroying entire cities, but the entire planet other than Noah an his bunch.

    And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.Genesis 6:6

    Rick>>”Doubting is a poor platform to communicate to God from, particularly while a person is in a crisis.”

    Subtle hint; but I can assure you, and as my kids can attest, although I may be a person in crisis, from the very beginning, I have NEVER for even a fleeting moment, indulged in the slightest doubt, that EVERYTHING is unfolding in accordance with God’s perfect plan for us.

    Your favourite heretic!

      • No big deal! While I didn’t take any offense, I did get a bit of a chuckle. After 3/4 of a century here on earth, I have NEVER yet met a person capable of offending me. You don’t need to tiptoe around me, I am totally bullet proof!!

        Okay . . . I need some pastoral advice. I’ve been sitting here in the departure lounge for over a year! How do I manage to get a first class ticket on the next flight outta here?

        Heretics never die! 🙂

        • lol. Just keep your faith in Jesus and trust Him. IMO, He may still have something for you to do. Life’s still worth living, and those extra stories may even be worth sharing when you’re reunited.

          • Rick,

            Yes! He *may* have something for me to do! And I know EXACTLY what that ‘something’ is that God has for me to do!!

            But it’s not as nearly simple as mere:
            1. 2. 3.

            Every time I get back up to speed, He messes up with the whole endeavour by shoveling one thing after another onto my plate.

            If God still has something for you to do, you don’t have to wait around wondering what it might be!! If you are receptive, He will introduce His plan and purpose, every step of the way, which can be a real impediment, in accomplishing and dispensing with His (my) primary plan.

            Which just goes to show that God can even use heretics to accomplish His purpose. Some of my heroes of the faith were heretics, and gave their life rather than compromise.

            I really have no problem in ending my life as a martyr; it’s just that burning-at-the-stake idea I don’t find all that appealing! 🙂

            signed,
            Your Champion of Heresy

  4. Go to say Stan Birch, God didn’t “screw up”. Before you can come to the conclusion that God “screwed up”, you have to first identify the standard by which He is judged. Oh yeah, He is the standard. He is the image of perfection:

    “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48]

    So if the Father is perfect, and He is the standard, then everything He did is perfect – and not a “screw up”.