When I was in high school, math was never my friend. Let’s be honest here, outside of English, there weren’t many subjects with whom I was on good terms. Usually I would find my groove and figure things out, but there was one subject that always seemed to trip me up: math. Even to this day, I need a calculator to figure out my tip. My name is Rose Dudley, and I am a guesstimator.
Anyway, I haven’t always been this bad. For one glorious year, I was actually pretty successful in algebra. I attribute this unicorn-level rarity mostly to my teacher. She had a different teaching approach from everyone else, and surprisingly, it worked for me.
Instead of giving the class the formula and telling us to simply apply it, she went through every step of the equation and explained why it was important in the process. I swear the heavens opened up when I finally got it. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand math. I just understood it differently from everyone else. I needed to know the purpose of each factor in the overall problem to put it all together.
This applies to more than 9th grade algebra though. And though that may have resulted in the one and only+A I ever got in a math class, it isn’t always a good thing when applied to a relationship with God.
It’s easy to trust God when things are going your way. But, what about when it isn’t? What about when things go awry, and the carefully made out plan that you’ve hinged the safety of your heart on blows up in your face? What then? You feel betrayed. Your trust feels broken, and all you want is a simple explanation. Why? Why did I deserve this hurt? What did I do wrong? We project our frustrations in the situation onto God. It becomes less and less about the hurt itself and more and more about the reason why.
We think that answers mean peace, but if we are actually honest with ourselves, things are much more complicated. It’s as if we think, maybe, just maybe, if we pinpointed the purpose behind it all, we could control the situation or fix the problem. At the root of it, we want control. But, is this feeling actually honoring or trusting in God?
It all comes down to a single question: What do you want more, peace or understanding? Contrary to the things our hearts will tell us, the two are not mutually exclusive. Though we want to know, God doesn’t have to give us privilege, and He may never give it to you. There is a reason for that, too.
Lysa Terkeurst (my main girl, oh man please read her every book) once explained that when God doesn’t tell us the whole story, it’s for one of three reasons:
1. He’s protecting me from something worse.
2. He’s providing something better that I can’t even fathom yet.
3. It’s all part of the process of growing me closer to Him.
(Lovingly lifted from Lysa Terkeurst on Facebook)
We don’t need to know why something happens to know that God loves us or that He is for us. We need only seek out His peace to find joy and contentment. Take captive your thoughts, and turn your mind to whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable. Refocus. When God closes a door, there is no use in jiggling the handle.
I’m not saying that you cannot grieve. The Lord is near to the broken hearted. Allow yourself to be broken in His presence so that the Lord’s light can shine through your cracks. He will create a message from this mess. Peace surpasses understanding, and in surrendering the pride of knowing, you will find unmatched contentment, growth, and intimacy with Him.
Whether your circumstance is a broken heart, or a lost opportunity, or even disappointment in yourself, goodness is still present and continuously ahead. His goodness. That is the only necessary absolute truth.