Do I understand why [God] allows certain things? No. Am I required to understand? No. Does He promise that I’ll understand? No. Does He promise to explain everything? No, He does not.
—Charles F. Stanley, “Wisdom for Life’s Trials”
Last summer, my husband and I decided to visit two national parks in the Dakotas since they are “close” together. Though in neighboring states, the drive between the parks was nearly five hours, and the views outside the car window only dragged it out further. Don’t get me wrong, the vastness of the Dakotas is remarkable—and a stark contrast to my skyscraper- and tree-filled views at home. The open sky and rolling prairies stretch forever, threatening to swallow you whole. But after an hour of endless grain and that double yellow line, I started to feel disoriented.
The second hour moseyed by, and we passed through a “town” of three buildings: a home, school, and barn. Then another hour and countless crops went by, and then another, and we finally reached our destination, decorated with people and shops and signs of life. And that’s when my haze of confusion finally crystallized into understanding: I didn’t know there was so much open, quiet space left in the world. I didn’t know there were four hours of continuous farmland to drive through. And I suddenly felt relieved by my own ignorance. From my perspective—bred in bustling, cramped environments—we humans had taken over, had filled and busied all the corners of the earth. But the emptiness of the Dakotas reminded me there is more out there than my way of life, my plot of land, my narrow lens through which I see God and the world.
There is more out there than my way of life, my plot of land, my narrow lens through which I see God and the world.
If only I could remember this truth when the Lord makes no sense to me. How often do I assume that what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen of God are the defining parameters of who He is? How often do I survey the circumstances before me and assume that’s all there is? But the Lord never promised we would fully understand Him, and we’re not entitled to His knowledge or the inner workings of His kingdom. This means that no matter what plagues my life, with God there is always more going on. When my circumstances don’t add up or I can’t see the way forward, perhaps it is enough to realize I don’t understand it all (and never will). The unknown may remain a mystery to me, but it is perfectly clear to Him.