At a Loss

Michael Beck

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There are moments in our life when we have lost our understanding as to what’s going on. We experience a brokenness of mind. At such times our heart is disquieted and we become feeble (numb).

I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. (Psalm 38:8)

feeble > Hebrew – puwg > to grow numb

Asaph couldn’t figure out how God could so seemingly forsake His own people. His spirit was overwhelmed and his mind confused.
He called his bewilderment his infirmity. We experience infirmity in body and mind.

A Psalm of Asaph. I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?
Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
And I said, This is my infirmity … (Psalm 77:1-10)

People and things don’t alway turn out as we supposed they would. God Himself can appear different than we thought. Our confusion not only causes us to question, but it could also cause us to stumble.

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Matthew 11:2-6)

It is the normal privilege of a child of God to have spiritual insight and understanding. But when events in our lives don’t align with our understanding we are thrown into confusion. It is disconcerting for a child of God not to know what his Father is up to.

… I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction (Job 10:15)

While Job’s friends easily explained what happened to him, Job was “at a loss.” It left him “in the dark.”

He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. (Job 19:8)

Elihu believed he would answer for a God who Job wanted to hear from but was afraid of.

Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay.
Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee. (Job 33:6,7)

Elihu asked Job whether God had to operate “according to” his understanding.

Should it be according to thy mind? … (Job 34:33)

Elihu reproved Job for striving with God, and advised him to stop because God doesn’t give explanations of His actions.

Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. (Job 33:13)

God’s ways and judgments are often beyond our comprehension.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8,9)

God is often up to something completely different than we imagined. His plans deviate from ours.
When things take a “left turn” we need to trust Him and abandon our own understanding of how things were supposed to go.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

There is an unwise, evil striving with God that wants to shape Him according to our design.

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth
it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? (Isaiah 45:9)

Without God’s permission, there are things too holy for us to touch. There are also secret things that belong to God and are not ours to know.

The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

When it comes to knowing anything, we honor God when we let Him direct us to pursue or forbear.
He wants us to diligently seek His understanding in some things, and let go of trying to understand other things.

A Song of degrees of David. LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever. (Psalm 131:1-3)

An obsessional, fretful “need to know,” which will not let go of a matter, can consume us.
God calls to be anxious over nothing. As we pray, He gives us His peace, which passes all our understanding.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)

God finally gave Job the audience he wanted.
But instead of satisfying his demand to understand, He had a few questions of His own for Job.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? (Job 38:1-4)

Our encounters with God don’t always go as we expected. He may tell us to be at peace even though we are still without the complete picture. Isn’t that what He did with Job? His questions were designed to remind Job that there were tons of things he had no knowledge of. In effect, “just add this to your list.”

God tries us in moments when we WANT to know.

We give God honor when we let HIM decide what we NEED to know.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.