God is so far above us in intelligence, foresight, and power that it should be no surprise that many times we simply don’t understand Him. Isaiah explained, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For 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). Isaiah was referring specifically to the Lord’s willingness to show mercy and “abundantly pardon” the sins of His people (55:6-7); this isn’t something that a savvy king should do, most would think – if some are rebellious enough to wrong the king once, wouldn’t you think they would be willing to do it again? But God’s ways are far above ours – He is willing to forgive.
We may not perceive the rationale for God’s actions or directions; what He says and what He does can sometimes feel contradictory to good sense and reason. So how can we deal with God’s sometimes confusing, seemingly foolish, instructions or activities?
1. Acknowledge that sometimes God’s actions or directions don’t have a logical basis from a human standpoint. Look carefully at the following passages: the world-the command to Noah to build an ark (Gen. 6-9); the instructions for the Passover (Exodus 11 & 12); the brazen-serpent prescription (Num. 21:4-9); the battle-plan for conquering Jericho (Joshua 6:1-21); the methodology for cleaning up Jericho’s poisonous water (II Kings 2:19-23); and the prescription for Naaman’s leprosy (II Kings 5:1-14). Then think about several New Testament passages: Jesus’ calling us to deny self (Matt. 16:24-25); Jesus’ technique for catching tremendous amounts of fish (Luke 5:1-11); the manner in which Jesus healed a man of blindness (John 9); Jesus’ waiting to visit his friend Lazarus, who was on his death bed (John 11); Jesus’ teaching that poverty, humility, meekness, and suffering, can bring wealth, fullness, and blessing (Matt. 5:1-12); the method and meaning of baptism (Rom. 6:3-5); and the items and symbolism of the Lord’s supper (I Cor. 11:23-29). Paul pointed out the cross of Christ is “foolishness” to some – but clarified that it only appears that way to “them that perish” (I Cor. 1:18). The point of all of this is that if we reflect on the content of Scripture, we realize that much of what God says and does is “foolishness” by human standards.
2. Recognize that God is wiser than you or me or anyone else we know. Isaiah said that God’s “thoughts” and “ways” are much higher than ours (55:8-9). Paul reminded us that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Cor. 1:25). There’s a lot we don’t know.
3. Train yourself to trust what you see or feel, less, and what God says, more. It’s natural to want something concrete. Thomas wanted to see proof of Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:25). Peter sank in the water when he saw the storm (Matt. 14:22-33). We must discipline ourselves to have faith and trust in God.
4. Do what God says, all that He says, in the way that He says, and for the purpose He assigned. All great people of faith obey God, even though it may not seem logical to the five senses in the moment (see Heb. 11).
5. Realize that God’s actions and directions always make sense in retrospect. It will be recognized in the end, that God ways are the best. Job experienced the “end of the Lord” – mercy and goodness (James 5:11). God can make all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28). God will provide, if we trust in Him and not ourselves (Prov. 3:5-6).