Editor’s Note: Pastor Scott Peterson is sharing daily devotions written by some of his favorite authors. The author’s biography and any notes by Pastor Scott are listed at the end of the devotion.
Why Such Mystery?
“Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, whom God hedges in?”Job 3:23
The spearpoint of Job’s many questions is this: Why so much mystery? Why must I travel blind? This is one of the most profound levels of pain. Job’s outcry is more than protest against the anguish of isolation and the loss of his supporting community. It is the supreme agony that comes from trying to make sense of that which lies beyond the reach of logic. It is a crisis in meaning. Job feels himself to be in the grip of ultimate nonsense. His cry is qualitatively above the whys of intellectual inquiry. It is a religious outcry, a protest against life’s unyielding absurdity, against the incoherence of his situation.
We are meant for this reflective warfare. This is our dignity. We are exploring, probing, searching, and reaching creatures. We are God’s hurting ones. Amid the magnificence of Who? What? How? Where? and When? is the ennobling Why? It must never cease to be asked. We must raise our whys. And we will, whether we wish to or not. The mind can no more contain its whys than the body can hold its breath. But there are many ways of asking why. It can be whined or cursed or snarled or pouted. But it can also be prayed.
A why can be a child’s empty cup, held up to the love and wisdom of our gracious God. Our Lord doesn’t fill it to the brim, but he satisfies each person’s need. He is too kind to drown us in all the knowledge we crave. He doesn’t give more than we can hold; sometimes we must wait to be made larger cups. Our present questions may be the wrong ones. Then he helps us outgrow them and prompts us to move on to better ones.
God knows that the road we must travel would overwhelm us if we could, in a single moment, see around every bend. He gives us a candle rather than a floodlight-and he promises to be there. He asks us to remember that mystery is one form of his mercy. His aim is not to keep things from us, but to keep things-the best things-for us!
(This devotion is from Frost 1977.)
Gerhard Frost (1909 – 1988) was a Lutheran Pastor, a college and seminary professor, and a poet. A student and friend of his described him this way, “…beloved by all who knew him. He had a Lincolnesque combination of strength and quietness about him.” That is an apt description of Gerhard Frost when I met him in 1978. As a guest speaker, he read his poetry at my internship congregation, Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Wadena, MN.
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Image: Job (oil on canvas) by Bonnat, Leon Joseph Florentin (1833-1922)