Text: Romans 11:32-36
Theme: Paul praised God both for what he understood and what he didn’t understand.
Key verses: “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone. Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen” (v. 33-36).
What I believe God said to me: Dwayne, you can’t appreciate this passage fully unless you read it in context with what Paul wrote and was thinking in the verses prior to it–especially verse 32. Why would I “imprison people in disobedience”? Paul said it was so I could “show mercy on everyone.” But that is hard to comprehend. It almost seems like an oxymoron. That is what prompted Paul to respond as he did with such sentiments as “How great…” “How impossible” and “Who knows…?” What I do is so far beyond your capability to comprehend. As smart and wise as Paul was, even he didn’t fully understand why and how I do what I do. So what did Paul do? He praised me anyway. He praised me for what he understood and also for what he struggled to grasp. Break this passage down and you will see. “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! (Paul understood that.) “How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?” (This was beyond Paul’s understanding.) “Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?” (Understood) “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory.” (Beyond his understanding.) “All glory to him forever! Amen.” (Understood) So, what should you take away from Paul’s response to such conundrums and perplexities? Praise me anyway. But how do you do that? By faith. It comes down to faith as “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” as Hebrews 11:1 defines it. Just praise me, both for what you understand and what you don’t. Trust my ways. Trust my love for you that is never-ending and incomprehensible. Nothing you can ever do can separate you from my love. When you see me working in a way you don’t appreciate or understand, don’t be discouraged or become bitter. Love and trust and praise me for it. Even when you don’t see me working, know I am working all things together for your good and my glory. Very little in this world will make sense to you, and often life won’t be fair. Keep in mind it’s not supposed to make sense to you or be fair to you. My Son suffered an awful death that certainly wasn’t “fair.” It seemed so senseless at the time that even the devil and his demons didn’t understand what I was doing. I know what I am doing. And nothing happens without my permission. I am the LORD. Trust me always. Praise me in every circumstance.
What I said to God: Thank You most holy Elohim. You are in charge. You are the God who sees and knows. I confess my selfishness and sinfulness and dissatisfaction. There is so much I don’t understand. Help me trust You and have faith in Your wisdom and power and love. We can do nothing without You. I fall at Your feet and worship the God who is worthy of all praise!