‘If I Hadda Known…’
It is the grace of God not to tell us everything:
It is a blessing of God that he does not show us all that will befall us as believers in the years ahead. How many new Christians would be deterred from going on if they had a fuller picture of what they would have to go through in their journey with Christ? So in his mercy he seldom reveals to us early on all the things that we will go through and deal with.
Of course that does not mean we are never told of what lies ahead. Sometimes God does offer his saints a pretty solid glimpse of what will be their lot. For example, in Acts 9:10-16 we read this about the conversion of Saul:
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
We know that Paul suffered massively for his faith and he endured heaps of persecution and opposition. So in this case God actually warned him well ahead of time that this would be the path he must travel on. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
But generally speaking most believers are only given as much light as they need for their immediate future. As is often mentioned, when we read passages like Psalm 119:105 (“your word is a lamp unto my feet”), we understand that we get enough light for each step we take and not for miles ahead.
We have the general word of God always with us but specific guidance and particular divine leading may well be piecemeal and partial. Obviously if we knew all the details of our overall journey beforehand, we would have little need for faith and trust in God.
Not knowing much about our path ahead keeps us dependent upon God, and means we cannot rely on ourselves. We need him every step of the way. Yes it is riskier this way, and we may feel quite insecure and uncertain at times, but if that drives us to our knees and makes us even more fully trusting in him, that is all for the good.
Also, if so much about the upcoming years was revealed to us long ago, most of us would have been too freaked out to want to go on. We would have complained to God and told him that those upcoming burdens and trials would be too much for us to handle. We would tend to want to tell God, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’
When I became a Christian nearly 52 years ago, little did I know what would happen over the decades to follow. That included all sorts of things such as living in different places, getting several academic degrees, becoming an overseas missionary, marrying an Australian and moving to Australia, where I have now lived longer than anywhere else.
Over the past half century there have been various trials and hardships. But it is the past three and a half years that really have been the hardest for me. I certainly would have been quite spooked had I known all about them beforehand.
I refer to two things. First, there was two years of covid lockdown hell. Very few other places on earth had such drawn-out, draconian and deranged measures inflicted upon us by a heavy-handed government drunk on power and control. It really was miserable for all but a few of us here in Melbourne.
And then right after that started to come to an end, we learned of my wife’s terminal cancer condition. Needless to say, that too has been a very hard road to travel on for us both. It is still ongoing and just where and when things will end up is another huge unknown. Here too we can only take one step at a time, trusting God along the way.
Of course as is often said, God gives us grace for when we need it – not beforehand. Christians often say they wonder if they could withstand severe persecution if it came upon them. They think they could not hold up. But the grace to endure will only come when we go through such things.
And it is true here: God has given us heaps of grace over the past few years, and that is sufficient. But again, had I known years ago all this was going to befall us, I might have had second thoughts about trusting God and serving him fully regardless of what might take place.
So in our case – as with all of us – it was a grace given to us by God NOT to be told everything ahead of time. Many others know this reality. Some years ago Jon Bloom penned a short piece titled “God Is Merciful Not to Tell Us Everything”. In it he said this:
In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom recalled a time when, as a young girl, she was returning home on the train with her father after accompanying him to purchase parts for his watchmaking business. Having heard the term “sexsin” in a poem at school, she asked her father what it meant. After thinking for a bit, her father stood up and took down his suitcase from the rack. And this is how Corrie remembers their conversation:
“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. “It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
God is also a wise Father who knows when knowledge is too heavy for us. He is not being deceptive when he does not give us the full explanation. He is carrying our burdens (1 Peter 5:7). If we think our burdens are heavy, we should see the ones he’s carrying. The burdens he gives to us to carry are light (Matthew 11:30). https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-is-merciful-not-to-tell-us-everything
The sorts of things I am now going through I would not have imagined when I became a new believer at age 18. Had I known what was to come, I might have had second thoughts about the Christianity thing. But God is wise enough and loving enough to tell us all that we need to know, and keep from us – at least for a while – what we do not need to know.
And it should be pointed out that this is not just true of our own personal situations, but of what is going on in the wider world as well. God tells us all that we need to know about global, political and cultural events as well – but not everything. A short part of a sermon Billy Graham preached 50 years ago in St. Louis is worth concluding with here:
Habakkuk said, “Lord please tell me what you’re doing.” And God said, “No, I’m not going to tell you, Habakkuk. Because if I told you what I was doing you wouldn’t believe it.” If God today told us what He’s doing in the world, we wouldn’t believe it. Don’t you think God’s given up, and God’s abdicated, and God’s left the throne. He hasn’t. He’s still on the throne. And those of us that know Him put our trust in Him and Him alone. I don’t put my trust in Washington. I don’t put my trust in the United Nations. I don’t put my trust in myself. I don’t put trust in my money. I put my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. When all the rest of it fails and crumbles and shatters, He’ll be there. https://www.air1.com/news/faith/god-said-if-i-told-you-what-i-was-doing-you-wouldn-t-believe-it-words-of-assurance-from-billy-graham-still-true-today-12191
2 Replies to “‘If I Hadda Known…’”
Imagine, to the contrary, going through what has happened and is happening without the sure and certain presence of God. May God carry you and your wife the rest of the way.
Keep your eye on the goal. That, sometimes, is all you can do. Just keep seeking Jesus’ face. Let the other stuff fade. Find the sometimes small blessing in every day God has given. God will be with you. He is patient, kind, just and loving and has promised to heal the brokenhearted.