English speakers have a phrase we use when we feel something is beyond our comprehension. We say it’s “over our heads”. Much of what I’ve deemed “over my head” wasn’t impossible to know, just difficult to understand. Chemistry and algebra come to mind.
I don’t often pursue a working knowledge of subjects I find especially challenging, let alone those that are altogether impossible to grasp. There’s one glaring exception to this rule: for some reason I’m addicted to trying to understand the incomprehensible ways of God.
Scripture teaches explicitly that His workings are over our heads. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’” (Romans 11:33-34).
These verses distinguish the unfathomable ways of God from the truths He has chosen to make plain. Moses said something similar in Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
King David wrote about this in Psalm 131:1: “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” It takes humility to agree with God in acknowledging the limits of human understanding and perspective. Once we recognize our limitations, we’ll be freed from that all-consuming, obsessive fixation David described. Ironically, the pride-driven, neurotic need to figure it all out breeds only more stress and fear.
The good news is that peace isn’t nearly as elusive as it seems. Consider this imagery: “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother” (131:2). The ESV Study Bible explains, “Just as a weaned child is content simply having his mother’s presence, so the faithful worshiper is content with God’s presence, even when there are many things he would like God to explain.”
I believe God welcomes our questions, but He doesn’t owe us explanations. Besides, it’s not the eradication of questions that calms and quiets our souls, but contentment in the presence of the One who knows all the answers. Or to put it differently, the peace we crave is not found in comprehending God’s ways, but in knowing Him. After all, our source of peace isn’t God plus a different set of circumstances, it’s God Himself.