St. Paul’s praise of God in his letter to the Roman community shows us how we ought to see God working in our lives. He praises God for the ways we don’t see His plans, because His plans are beyond our understanding. This is something we often see in hindsight, but rarely appreciate in the present.
What if we actually did see the ways in which God is allowing our lives to include turmoil? What if we saw how these things would turn out? Would we feel any better about the strife we must face? Would we complain less if we could see the purpose behind it?
Think of speaking to a child who doesn’t yet understand the purpose of struggling through learning a difficult subject, or waiting for what they truly want. Does your explanation of the purpose make them feel much better? Usually, only time and growth in maturity helps them to realize what good those unpleasant experiences have brought them. And so, we face similar situations as adults who cannot always see the purpose behind the events in our lives.
Sometimes we have to realize that the difference in God’s perspective and our own is much greater than the difference between adults and children. A family friend of ours used to often tell me that God writes straight with crooked lines. Only God can do that, because only God has the perspective to see all ends. Only God can see where all paths must lead.
Victor Frankl once wrote – “Meaning comes from three things: the work we offer in times of crisis, the love we give, and our ability to display courage in the face of suffering.”
Two of these things are never pleasant, and we all know that loving someone can be hard at times. But we also know that all these things can be seen in hindsight as truly beautiful. If we are to be a people of Hope, we must find a way to find this meaning in the midst of difficulty and strife. Even during those times, our Hope must lead us to echo St. Paul’s words:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.