Friday, June 10, 2011

Life Is Confusion

Do a Google search for the phrase "life doesn't make sense," and odds are you'll get some 838,000 results. (I did.) Specifically, life makes little sense when judged by our best reasoning and instincts. It seems that well-laid plans should run smoothly, that people who work hard for dreams should achieve them, that evil should be stopped before it has the chance to do real damage, and that people should keep their health at least for the first thirty-five years of life.

Probably the majority of times, things do happen that way. But when they don't, everyone notices. A woman who followed all the rules of diet and exercise is stricken with terminal cancer at age twenty-nine. A drunk driver collides with an inner-city student who finally achieved the first college scholarship in his family a week earlier--the young man who worked so hard for a better future dies, and the driver whose thoughtlessness caused the tragedy isn't even scratched. Two families, next-door neighbors who to all appearances are equally law-abiding and decent, both pray for protection in a storm--a tornado rips down the street, swerves away from one family's house, and levels the other's.

It's not fair--which is usually what "Life doesn't make sense" means. No one talks about the "senselessness" of a hardworking but poverty-level teacher's suddenly inheriting $2 million willed by a fifth cousin to "my nearest living relative who can be located in six months"--though the odds against it are probably greater than those against the teacher's falling victim to a drive-by shooter. Regardless, the "life doesn't make sense" argument is also a key point of the "Is there a God or isn't there?" question. If there isn't a God, life really is senseless--but then how do you explain the human instinct that says life should make sense? If there is a God, why doesn't He add a little more "sense" to life?

There's a clue in Isaiah 55:8: "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD." In other words, it's not only possible that things will happen that make sense to God but not to us--it's inevitable. Truthfully, the very existence of another common phrase, "for your own good," proves that we do understand "higher ways" sometimes must prevail. Your cat can't understand why he needs a rabies shot; a three-year-old can't really comprehend why eating a whole bottle of flavored aspirin is a bad idea; and a high school student is incapable of fully accepting that he isn't ready to vote, drink beer, or leave town for an unchaperoned weekend.

Our understanding is considerably farther below God's than a cat's is below a human being's. Pets and small children rarely hold it against us for long when we do something for their own good. Let's try to be as wise in accepting God's will for our lives.

Life is confusion, life is hard;
Circumstance has no reason or rhyme;
If you search for details of what makes life tick,
Reason falls on its face every time.

Life is confusion, life is tough;
And no matter how hard you may try,
Things will always occur far beyond human power
To find reasons for "whether" and "why."

Life is confusion, life is hard;
But there is deeper purpose behind,
And someday we will see, in a world yet to come,
That all made perfect sense in God's mind.

1 comment:

Janet Ann Collins said...

I think our understanding is much further below God's than a cat's understanding is below ours.