Sitting in the drive thru one Monday afternoon, cheeseburgers, French fries, and root beer on order, conversation ebbed. Honestly, I don’t remember what we were talking about before rolling into Whataburger. I clearly recall, however, my daughter’s question as we waited for our food: “Why do we have to do this earth thing anyways, Mama?” Talk about a whopper! (Wrong restaurant, I know, but I couldn’t resist!) She was genuinely perplexed. Bothered. Struggling with understanding.
Our sweet 19-year-old friend, Katie Walker, had just died unexpectedly in a tragic car accident (see “Untimely Death. Timeless Hope.”). It was impossible to make sense of it. It was forefront in all our minds. At that moment, my daughter wasn’t wrestling with why it happened. Rather, she reasoned, if God knows who is going to heaven anyways, why even make us come to earth where there is pain, suffering, and death? For Ephesians 1:4-6 clearly states:
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
So if God chooses us from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13), and He knows we’re heaven bound before He even gives us this suit of flesh, why do we have to do earth?
I sat thoughtfully for a long moment. I quickly scanned the mental computer for everything I’d ever read or heard that might serve as the right answer, but I didn’t have one. There were a few that sort of related, but just weren’t it. Like a pair of jeans that sort of fits, but not in the right places. I’d never encountered this particular question, so the answer just wasn’t in the data base.
“Well, sweetie, that’s a great question, and I don’t know the answer,” I replied. I talked a little about the fact that we’ll never fully understand God because He is God and we are human. I touched on His sovereignty and the reality of His goodness and love, that even when bad things happen, He is still God. He is still good. He is still faithful and trustworthy. And He still keeps His promises to us. But the reality is, I didn’t have an answer to her exact question.
In that moment, a conviction stirred to find it. It wasn’t enough to smooth it over with big-picture possibilities. She was openly wrestling with a make-it-or-break-it question. Only truth straight from the word of God would satisfy and build her faith in her time of deep questioning.
Determination dug its heels deep within me.
“I will find out,” I promised. Not an empty promise. Not an intention soon to be forgotten. It was a set-jaw moment. I would search until I found it. God’s word, a treasure trove for understanding. “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17). I asked the Holy Spirit to give me understanding. To show me the answer to her exact question. And I started digging.
Certain scriptures I’d literally skimmed dozens of times became substance for discovery. Like an archeological excavation. Sifting brought new and deeper understanding of familiar passages, laying out evidence of His truth before me. His promise in Jeremiah 29:13 stands true, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you searchfor Me with all your heart.”
This journey in God’s word started at the beginning, with creation, and what I found was full of mystery, dominion, family, friendship, worship, glory, heaven, good works.
And then it happened. I stumbled upon the mother lode. A scripture I don’t remember ever having seen, even though I have read the Bible all the way through. My eyes must have encountered it at least once. But this time, the words stopped me in my tracks.
Thursday, I will begin sharing the answers God is showing me in His word. And His whopper of a revelation for her whopper of a question. But first, I want to say, I think one of the hardest truths to accept in our very finite human minds is that some things about God, what He’s done or is doing, and why are just going to be a mystery. Deuteronomy 29:29 explains, “The secretthings belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
The Lord chooses what He wants to divulge. If He has not made something known to us, it belongs to Him alone. And it is not our place to question. As Isaiah 45:9 makes clear, “Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?” In the same way, Job 9:12 confirms, “If He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’”
When we’re in the midst of a challenging time, however, it’s difficult not to question God. Not to resent the mystery of His ways. Not to demand answers. At the same time, I believe the degree with which we grapple with the things of God directly correlates with how we view God. In my upcoming book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, I explain:
Many of us have a warped idea of God based on people and/or circumstances in our lives, and we need to look into the word of God for the truth of who He is. When we do, we will see that He is “longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression” (Num. 14:18). He is “the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9). He is the One who goes with us, never leaving or forsaking us (Deut. 31:6). He is our rock, fortress, and deliverer (2 Sam. 22:2). He is perfect in all His ways; “a shield to all who trust in Him” (2 Sam. 22:31). He is our shepherd, and therefore, we shall not want (Ps. 23:1). He is our light and salvation and the strength of our lives, thus we shall fear no one (Ps. 27:1). He is our strength and shield; as our hearts trust in Him, we are helped (Ps. 28:7).
“The word of the Lord is right; and all His work is done in truth” (Ps. 33:4). The Lord is on our side; there is nothing man can do to us (Ps. 118:6). The Lord is our keeper and the shade at our right hand (Ps. 121:5). He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy (Ps. 145:8). He is “righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works” (Ps. 145:17). He is the mighty and awesome One, and He is with us (Jer. 20:11a). He has thoughts of peace toward us, and not of evil, but thoughts to give us a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). There is nothing too hard for him (Jer. 32.27). He is our portion and hope, and He “is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” (Lam. 3:24-25). He is good, and “a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (Nah. 1:7). He is our loving Father and knows the things we need before we ever ask Him (Matt. 6:8). He is our Father in heaven and desires to give good things to those who ask Him (Matt. 7:11). “He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He is love (I John 4:8). “The Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20-21). He is faithful; He establishes and guards us from the evil one (2 Thess. 3:3). He is our helper; we have no reason to fear because there is nothing man can do to us (Heb. 13:6). He is not “slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
There is no more effective way to increase our faith than through prayer that recounts the goodness of God, His characteristics, and His works, from creation to this very day, including the things He’s done specifically in your life. Our faith must be anchored not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God (I Cor. 2:5). There is no better way to be convinced of His power than to know what the scriptures say about Him!
And as we place our faith in this great and faithful God, He will disclose things to us. The Bible tells us, “He reveals deep and secret things” (Daniel 2:22), and “The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him” (Psalm 25:14). He counsels and engages in familiar, intimate conversation with those who fear, revere, honor, respect, and stand in awe of Him.
As we fear Him, as we become more wholly His, we will know more of Him and His ways.