Because He Knows, We Don’t Have To: Trusting God in the Unknown
Resigning as youth director was gut-wrenching. For the past few years my husband faithfully preached the gospel, cheered the kids on at games, and discipled them over meals. He encouraged them through seasons of faith and doubt or when they were overwhelmed by peer pressure. It was a privilege watching the teens mature in godliness. But after several years we began wrestling with our theological convictions and realized it’d be most loving to leave. Heartbroken, we said goodbye to loved ones and a stable job. We clung to the hope that if the Lord called us out, then he’d also provide.
Then the coronavirus hit.
Job opportunities vanished overnight. Churches held off on hiring as tithing dwindled. Panic and fear flooded my heart as I wondered if we did the right thing.
Lying awake at night, I bitterly wept and cried out:
Father, why is this happening in the middle of a pandemic! How will we make it through?
Foreordained and Foreknown
Facing the unknown can be terrifying. As parents and disciplers of youth, we often wonder if anything we do will bear fruit. We’re anxious to know if our kids will trust in the gospel or if they’ll ultimately reject it. We ask if life will ever be “normal” again or what our country’s fate will be. Our kids may wonder what colleges they’ll attend, whether schools will close again, or if prom will be canceled.
We might panic, allow worst-case scenarios to consume our minds, grow bitter and pessimistic, or manipulate circumstances in sinful ways. Just like Adam and Eve, this reveals our distrust of God and of our vain attempt to be like him. But God is not limited by time and space as we are. He has sovereignly foreordained and foreknows every single detail of our lives.
The Faith of our Forefathers
When the Lord revealed to Noah his plan to destroy the earth, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22). He didn’t protest or argue with God about how bad of an idea it was; instead, he labored for events yet unseen. When the earth flooded and millions perished, Noah and his family survived. By faith he was counted as righteous.
Similarly, Abraham believed God’s promise that he would be the father of many nations, yet Sarah was doubtful and past her childbearing years. Taking matters into her own hands, she asked Abraham to bear children through Hagar. But when the Lord promised her a son, she laughed.
It’s easy to shake our heads at Sarah, but are we any different than her? How often have we distrusted the Lord’s faithfulness in the unseen? How many times have we tried to grasp for a sense of control when the way forward seemed unclear?
His Understanding is Beyond Measure
The Lord’s timing and purposes can cause uneasiness, especially to young Christians struggling to trust him. The future is rarely written for us, but we can encourage our students with what we do know about Him. As the Father, Son, and Spirit are in union with one another, so are his attributes. His wisdom wouldn’t be abounding without being all-knowing. He wouldn’t be omnipotent and sovereign without foreknowing and foreordaining all of history. Without His patience lavished upon sinners, he wouldn’t be steadfast in love. His cosmic justice required intimate knowledge of human sin and depravity, without which complete atonement couldn’t be made. God’s omniscience only magnifies his mercy and grace towards a people deserving of a holy God’s wrath. And despite the Son foreknowing his suffering, he endured the betrayal of a friend, and obeyed his father to the cross.
Our Savior’s Faithfulness
As I reflect on my panic-filled start of the year, I marvel at the Lord’s faithfulness. While cleaning dishes one day, my husband asked me, “Jenny, what do you think about moving to Texas?” The plate nearly slipped out of my hands. Was our life finally changing? As it turns out, a like-minded pastor from Texas offered to fly us out for a visit. Things were finally moving forward after countless job listings sent by a faithful friend. With renewed hope (and some hand sanitizer) we became two of three passengers on an Austin-bound flight. Families welcomed us with a barbeque, a gift of grace after isolating for months during quarantine. That Sunday we worshipped inside of a church for the first time in almost half a year. With tears trailing into my mask, I promised never to take corporate worship for granted again.
We’ve since moved to Austin and are overjoyed with life so far. We’re thankful to still be in ministry and are humbled by God’s timing and purpose. Moments like these are reminders of his all-knowing and wise governance. Just as the Lord knew my family’s situation before the coronavirus, he also knows the outcome of each one of our lives. He’s the same unchanging, promise-fulfilling God of Abraham, Sarah, and Noah. May we be quick to encourage our youth with stories of his faithfulness. Pray that they would trust in Christ’s work on the cross, which is the supreme testament of his omniscience. Praise God for the peace that comes from surrendering our unknown to him. He is working all things for our good and for his glory.
Here are three suggestions to help our youth meditate on God’s omniscience:
- “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6 (ESV). If Christ died for sinners despite foreknowing it, then can we trust he loves us and has our good in mind?
- Read Psalm 139 together. How do you feel about God knitting us in our mother’s womb and intimately knowing our hearts and thoughts? Is this comforting?
- Sing “Be Still My Soul” and reflect on the lyrics. Conclude your time with prayer, asking the Lord to help us rest in his all-knowing wisdom through loss, grief, disappointment, and change. Pray for joy and thanksgiving in Christ.