I like to know things–I like to solve puzzles, figure out mysteries, learn trivial facts. I want answers. So when I go before God in prayer, I often ask questions. Why is this person suffering? When will their suffering end, and how? Where were you in this disaster (as though God had stepped out for a minute and wasn’t aware of what happened)?
God stays silent.
I can grow frustrated in the silence or I can learn to trust. That doesn’t mean that I no longer want answers; just that I am willing to wait on God’s sovereign timing. It also means that I am need to more about God’s nature–God doesn’t keep secrets or withhold knowledge because He wants to torment me, or frustrate me, or play some cosmic mind game (though some people accuse Him of doing just that). God withholds full disclosure of His plans, His reasoning, and His nature out of love and compassion. Suppose I could see into the future, even give out warnings, but had no power to stop disaster from coming. Not only would I be haunted by the disaster itself, but by the full knowledge of its coming. Suppose I could see a miracle in advance; know when and how it would unfold. There would still be joy, but it would be muted by the foreknowledge– of course there would be a happy ending; of course there would be a miracle– I saw it all from afar off.
The Apostle Paul touches on this in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. This is commonly known as the “Love Chapter”, and the first half is frequently quoted at weddings and church sermons. But the end of the chapter is a wonderful message of hope and faith, ending with Paul’s triumphant statement about all three:
1 Corinthians 13:8-13 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
God loves us with a perfect love. Because of that, I can trust Him, and have hope in the midst of my questioning. So when I pray with questions, I can know that God has “filed them away”– He is fully aware of my situation, questions and all, and He is fully faithful to answer them all in His perfect wisdom and timing. Someday, I will know– not only all that I don’t know now, but why I had to wait.
God will provide full disclosure. with compassion, love, and wisdom that only He can give.