I wonder if sometimes God gets slightly annoyed with us trying to figure out why He does what He does. I wonder if He ever thinks, “why don’t they just mind their own business and think about what I’ve given them to do instead of bothering with trying to figure out what I’m doing?” We busy ourselves trying to analyze God’s motives, options and perspective. Our accounts of how and why God does what he does are similar in quality to the nuclear physics research of a golden retriever.
Its freeing when you come to the point of ‘letting’ God do what he does and you just keep your focus on what God has given you to do. This even applies to other people’s situations. I had cancer when I was 25 and I went through 8 rounds of chemotherapy. It was difficult, of course, but honestly I handled it pretty well (the last couple of rounds nearly killed me, but still, it was OK). I remember people– well-intentioned– saying things like “I bet you are really struggling with why God let this happen to you– I bet that is difficult!” And they were trying to sympathize with my situation, with loving compassion. But the fact was, it never crossed my mind that I was suffering something I didn’t deserve. It just was not a struggle for me. To outsiders it appeared that I probably was going to be struggling with certain questions, but it turned out that in fact I wasn’t, and those weren’t questions for me at all (which is surprising, since I am a philosopher and all).
So sometimes I see things happen to others, and I start to be concerned about their business, and I see situations where maybe I think someone is struggling– but it turns out they aren’t. From my perspective, it looks like they got thrown under the bus– like my cancer maybe looked to outsiders. But the funny thing is that when its you and God going through something together, sometimes its simply not a big deal– or at least not something you need someone else to help see you through. God’s grace is sufficient, and if you happen to be an outsider to that, its likely you won’t get it– and its not yours to get anyway!
Its especially hard to not get involved, especially when it is someone you care a lot about. But sometimes the way to be involved is to stay out of it and let God do what he needs, and you just pray. God is weird– His ways are not our ways– and its good for us to simply get used to that idea and accept it. Sometimes God doesn’t need us to get involved– he needs us to stay out of the way because he needs to get alone with the person and bring them through something alone.
Kierkegaard talked a lot about Abraham going up the mount to sacrifice his son Issaac. Abraham was in a situation which he could not fully related to anyone else. He was, in Kierkegaards words, experiencing the ‘height of subjectivity’– it was him and God and no one else could understand. His wife wouldn’t really understand what he was doing because she hadn’t heard from God as Abraham had. He couldn’t go talk to his priest about it– he just had to go with God up the mount facing the situation himself.
It is wonderful to have community, and to be supported and loved, challenged and embraced by community. But there are some things that God wants you to face on your own. And while its hard to know, as an outsider, when that is– its important to remember that sometimes God has plans for others which may seem strange to you– and its absolutely none of your business. He has given you things to do– given you a direction and a purpose– and you only need to be faithful to that calling he has on your life. What he does in anothers life is really between God and that person.
It is important to sympathize with others– rejoice when they rejoice, mourn when they mourn– but it is also important sometimes to simply let God work in and through them in His very strange ways that are beyond our comprehension.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your way straight.
May God have mercy on us all…