“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
I can see airplanes fly through the sky. I’ve been on planes as they fly through the sky. I can explain – or have someone explain to me – how the planes course their way through the clouds. I have felt the lift during take-off and the brakes during landing. I’ve felt the jumping and thumping in rough air. I’ve seen the British Channel at sunrise from 35,000 feet – it was beautiful seeing the sun rise over the Channel to the east while flying in from over the Atlantic from the west. I’ve seen the range of volcanoes in western Washington. I’ve flown over the round clock-shaped fields in mid-America. I’ve seen the aqua blue of the vast Pacific while flying over it high up in the sky.
I get it. I understand (mostly) the physics of flight. (I’m glad it works!) I can explain flight. Sure.
But in spite of my knowledge and understanding, it is still completely unexplainable to me just how a 747 can speed down a runway and gracefully lift up and into the air. Where did the air come from? And why is it that speed and friction can get the monster plane in the air? And how did the on-board computers come about? And what makes the pilots and crew tick? And where did the fuel come from? And how do electrons pulse through the miles and miles of wires and fiber in the plane to keep the plane up in the air? And what keeps that big hog of a plane in the air? Where did all of this come from? What holds it all together? Why?
Yes, I can explain the mechanics of flight. But the essence of flight is unexplainable.
Likewise, I know life and death – as you do. I can explain the nuances and details of life and death – the body parts that need to keep working, the meds that need to keep flowing to sustain life, the professional staff that is needed to keep a patient comfortable and viable, and the procedures and methods that are used to keep a person healthy and alive.
But why life? Or death? And what is the difference between life and death? When is a person really alive? When does a person really die? What is it about life that is so precious but that is so abused by so many? Is death final? Where was I before? Where am I after? Is this it? Is there more? Was there something before? Does it all matter or not?
I can explain the detail of life and death. But the essence and condition of life and death is completely unexplainable.
Job was rhetorically asked by a companion, “Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Such knowledge is higher than the heavens — and who are you? It is deeper than the underworld — what do you know?” (Job 11:7-8)
Habakkuk the prophet dared to complain and then ask God to explain stuff. God responded. And all Habakkuk could say in response was (among other things)…
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
[God’s] brilliant splendor fills the heavens…
[God’s] coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden.
When [God] stops, the earth shakes. When he looks, the nations tremble.
And Habakkuk closed with, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength!” (Habakkuk 3:18-19)
I don’t know. Asking God about stuff seems like something that is ok to do, but God often answers me in ways that I don’t understand or don’t want to like. Personally, I don’t get much comfort from someone asking me questions when I first am asking them questions. But – now being a few months out from my own personal loss – I think I am beginning to uncomfortably understand that God’s ways are perhaps beyond what I can understand or fathom.
No, this realization doesn’t make me feel any better in the moment, but as time ticks on, I am sensing slight breezes of peace and confidence in the realization that – after all – I’m not in charge – God is! I think I am being shown hints and glimmers of the essence of God’s mystery. I can’t explain it – but I am getting inklings all of the time now.
Like Habakkuk – and as time moves on from that awful day – I am more able to say that the Lord is my strength.