In my experience there are two kinds of people who ask the question “why?” The first is the learner. No one illustrates this better than a child. When our children were small I sometimes thought they were going to wear me out with their incessant inquisitions. Students who excel are not satisfied to know the answer to their question, they also want to know the logic and rationale behind the answer. They do so by asking “why?”
But there’s another kind of person who asks the question “why?” That would be the person who is suffering tragedy or injustice. They look at their circumstances with shock and ask the exact same question. They not only ask the same question as the learner, they seek the same thing as the learner: the logic and rationale behind the event.
The question “why?” is on the lips of those who are confronted by tragic and untimely death of a friend or loved one, by those who receive positive test results, by those who experience layoffs and unemployment, and by those families who wrestle with crumbling marriages and troubled kids. I don’t think its incidental that both the learner and the sufferer seek the same thing. Maybe there’s a connection. Isaiah 55:8-13 gives some insight for those who ask the question “why?”
The first observation from Isaiah is that God is completely different from humans in how he thinks and how he acts (Isaiah 55:8). This difference is not due to distance, so don’t let the word heavens convey that God is somehow disenfranchised. The word higher here is used as in “immeasurable.” God wants his children to know that he is not like us. When we can’t understand the will and ways of God, it sometimes comes down to the simple fact that we don’t have the capacity to know. God’s thoughts and actions belong to another realm not bound by or limited to time and space. His purposes belong to time and eternity. Because eternity encompasses the future our understanding is incomplete. We can comprehend the present but are not equipped to see the future.
My second observation is that God thinks his own thoughts and pursues his own purposes (Isaiah 55:9). God’s thoughts and purposes belong to him. There are some things God has chosen to reveal to his children. However, there are some things God has chosen not to disclose. Those things that God has chosen to remain veiled are mysteries to us. Those mysteries become the fertile soil of our faith. Our growth in faith depends on becoming comfortable with the mystery. We learn to trust God because he is trustworthy, not because he can be completely comprehended.
Check back tomorrow when I’ll post my third and fourth observations from Isaiah.