Several days a week, I am blessed with the opportunity to teach music theory and beginning guitar in the prison facility where I am. One of the most common questions my students give me is, “But why?”
I could of course give them the answer in great detail. Most times however, the typical student would only be more confused. In any case, that information does not actually help them play the guitar any better. So I often find myself just saying, “Trust me.”
If they will just trust that it is the way I say, they will become guitar players much faster; and later on, down the road, they will be better prepared to understand the reasons why. It does you no good to understand how the frequencies of string vibrations of three different notes relate to each other mathematically – if you can’t even play the chord.
As I was meditating on Scripture this morning, I realized we do the same thing with God. We want to know all the reasons why – when we can’t even manage to obey God in the most basic of commands.
The entire Book of Job is about this subject. Job and his three friends all ask, and try to answer, the question of why God would allow such hardship to come on him. When God finally responds to them, His answer is not a detailed explanation of why. Instead, Job 38:1-4 says:
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,” (Job 38:1)
“Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)
“Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” (Job 38:3)
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.” (Job 38:4)
The passage actually keeps going for quite a while, but it all amounts to the same thing. God basically asks Job, “Who do you think you are to question Me?”
Now when another person gives us that kind of a response, we tend to think they are being arrogant or defensive; but we shouldn’t jump to that conclusion too quickly.
My students do not have enough understanding of music theory to be able to argue with me over why it works like it does, or how it “should” work. If they did, they would be the teacher and I would be the student.
By the same token, we certainly do not have enough understanding of how the universe was made, or how it operates, for us to argue with God, or question His wisdom in the matter. We could only have that much knowledge if we were God instead of Him; and we most definitely are not.
Through the Apostle Paul, God gives us a similar answer in Romans 9:14-15, 18-20:
“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” (Romans 9:14)
“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Romans 9:15)
“Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Romans 9:18)
“Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” (Romans 9:19)
“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20)
Again, God’s answer is to ask us, “Who do you think you are?”
I tell you the truth – this is the root of the problem. We have this tendency to try to reverse the roles on God. We keep trying to make ourselves God, and make Him submit to us. We keep trying to put Him on the judgment seat, and put ourselves in the place of the Judge. We are trying to put God on trial.
God never responds well to that. In fact, He seems to be offended by it.
I am convinced that God is right to be offended. We have no right to question His goodness, His character, or His decisions on anything. If we can just learn to trust that God knows what He is doing; and trust that He is a good God; and trust that His purposes are ultimately for our good and His glory; and to trust that His purposes will come about in the end – we can find incredible peace amidst all the various trials of life. We can learn to be content no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.
I tell you from experience, you can be just as joyful and at peace in prison as you can be anywhere else; if all of your trust, all of your hope, and all of your heart’s desires are in God.
Two of the most important questions a man can ask himself are: “Who do you think you are?” and “Who do you think Jesus is?”
Make sure you can answer those questions rightly; and keep the roles straight.