Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word. Since 1998, he has served as the senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, but...
Why We Praise One We Can’t Comprehend
The culture in which we live, work, and play complains that God makes no sense, so how can He be trusted? They refuse to worship a God they can’t comprehend.
My thought is the exact opposite.
Unlike others, I find God’s incomprehensibility absolutely refreshing. Especially in a day like ours when executive moguls prance like peacocks and deified athletes beat their chests as they strut their stuff. At a time when one-upmanship and human intimidation have become an art form, it is delightful to be reminded anew: “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3).
Our Lord doesn’t ask permission. He doesn’t bother to explain. He doesn’t feel the need to ask, “May I?” or “Please.” He simply does “whatever He pleases,” thank you. After all, He is God . . . the Maker of heaven and earth, the Alpha and the Omega, the Sovereign Lord of the entire universe.
On our recent Insight for Living Ministries 2013 Greek Isles Cruise, I took a moment one night to gaze up at the stars from the deck of our ship. I stood amazed at the unusual array of luminaries that shined down upon the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The psalmist was correct: The heavens do indeed tell of the glory of God . . . their expanse does indeed declare the work of His hands (19:1). And when you mix that unfathomable fact with the incredible reality that He cares for each one of us right down to the last, tiniest detail, the psalmist is, again, correct: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand” (139:6 NLT).
We need that reminder, we who are tempted to think we’re capable of calling our own shots. We need to be brought down to size, we who feel we’ve got a corner on our own destiny. How many times does our incomprehensible God need to tell us that His ways are beyond our ability to understand before we begin to believe it? How often must He prove to us that He is the Shepherd and we are the sheep . . . that He is the Vine and we are the branches . . . before we bow and quietly whisper, “Have Thine own way, Lord”? Seems to me that if the Son of God found it necessary at the crossroad of His earthly existence to pray, “Not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39), we would be wise to use the same eight words often. Daily, in fact.
But we don’t do that, do we? Instead, we feel capable of discerning and declaring His panoramic plan for our lives. What a joke! We’re doing well to “trust and obey” on a day-to-day basis. I’ll be honest with you, the more I probe the extremes of our universe—whether it’s a starry sky, a stormy sea, the majestic mountains, or microscopic minutia—the more I want to be still . . . and let the wonder in.
Such ponderings do what they’re supposed to do: make us uncomfortable. But that which is a roadblock for the world’s faith becomes instead a catapult for ours. How? In our discomfort an essential change takes place. God becomes what and who He should be to us, namely incomprehensible. Holy? Of course. Powerful? Yes, no question. Compassionate? Always. Righteous and just? Gracious, loving, self-sufficient, sovereign? All the above, certainly.
But more . . . so much more. More than we can grasp. More than we can think. More than the brightest among us can even imagine. (If you question that, you owe it to yourself to read Job 38:l–40:4, nice and slowly.)
And what are the benefits of such a realisation? We no longer reduce God to manageable terms. We are no longer tempted to manipulate Him or His Word. We don’t have to explain Him and His will or defend Him and His ways. Like the grieving prophet Isaiah, we get new glimpses of Him “lofty and exalted,” surrounded by legions of seraphim who witness Him as “the LORD of hosts” as they shout forth His praises in antiphonal voice (Isaiah 6:1–3). All this gives new meaning to the singer’s ancient song:
O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! . . .
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers;
the moon and the stars you set in place;
what are mere mortals that you should think about them?
(Psalm 8:1, 3–4 NLT)
Talk about a great question! In a world consumed with thoughts of itself, filled with people impressed with each other, having disconnected with the only One worthy of praise, I suggest it’s time we return to elementary Theology and catch a glimpse of Him who, alone, is awesome, yea, incomprehensible. He is our infinite, inexhaustible God. As a long-time friend of mine once said, “If that don’t light your fire, you’ve got wet wood!”
I urge you to discipline yourself to think on these things. Refocus your mind beyond the horizontal to the vertical. Rise above the nonsense of human viewpoints and tedious worries about non-eternal issues. Go deeper with thoughts that really matter.
It’s time we got reacquainted with our Maker. Any serious study of God takes us from an unconscious to a conscious awareness of our ignorance.
The One we worship defies human analysis. That is, in fact, why we praise Him.