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
2004 was a pretty tough year for my family. In June of that year, we lost our Nana, the matriarch of our family. We had her funeral and buried her without the presence of my mother, who was in the hospital fighting for her life. Her body was ravaged by an infection. She was already considerably weakened by the cardiac arrest that she had suffered 2 years prior. In August, Mama passed away. She could no longer effectively fight the infection that had attacked her body. After her funeral, we figured that enough tragedy had visited our family and we needed time to pull our lives back together. I was sitting at my desk at work in September when I received a telephone call informing me that my father in law had just been killed in a farming accident. What made this even more difficult was the fact that my wife did not know and I had to drive to her work to communicate this to her. With all of this happening to us within a 4 month period of time, the overriding question in all of our minds was Why? Why did this happen to us? My mother and grandmother were the sweetest, most giving people that you would ever meet. My father in law would give you the shirt off of his back. He and my mother in law were just starting to enjoy retirement when he was taken away. At this time in my life, I could not figure out why were these things happening.
Like Einstein's theory of relativity, life is difficult to explain. There are things that happen in your life and you are at a loss for words to come up with a rational explanation. You start to wonder where is God during these times. Where is God when someone that's a believer experiences a financial setback, divorce or receives a serious medical diagnosis? What are the reasons for a Christian get passed over for a promotion when he or she is deserving? Why do these things happen? Is God not listening to our prayers or paying attention? I have asked myself this question on more than one occasion in an effort to "figure these things out." The answer that was provided to me is found in the above referenced scripture.
God's ways are not our ways. I prayed for clarity in what this actually meant. As I dug deeper in this scripture, I began to realize that man's thoughts are finite and limited. God's thoughts on the other hand have no boundaries. I also discovered that I made a mistake in making a comparison of my train of thought to that of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God. His ways are far different than my ways. My ways, because of my carnal nature are crooked at best, whereas God's ways are straight. This type of thinking creates a gulf between us and God. In retrospect, I am glad His ways are not our ways, because if it was so, we would all be condemned of sin and would not experience God's grace. Learning about the goodness of God's ways does not lessen the pain of the trials and tribulations that we may experience, but at least gives one an understanding of the grace that we have because of God and His ways. I don't think that I will ever fully understand, nor be able to solve the problems that life throws my way, but at least my level of acceptance has been increased by the study of scripture and communicating with experienced pastors and elders on a regular basis. This course of action is the one that I have used and it works for me.
There may be another path that you will have to take to began to understand the fact that you will never be to fully explain or understand God's ways or rationalize the things that happen to you or your love ones. Whatever it is, I encourage you to start.
ACTION PLAN: Ask God for the guidance that only He can provide to equip you with the wisdom and peace needed to begin to understand the benefit of His ways versus our own.
Please leave a comment and pass along to others. In addition, if you have any suggestions on how to make this resource more effective, please use the "contact us" function.
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.