STRENGTH FOR THE WEEK: Flood Church’s Weekly Devotional
SERIES 1: The Voice of God
A Perplexing Voice
“Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.” (John 13:21 – 22)
“At a loss to know Jesus’ meaning”: Does that sound familiar? What did Jesus mean by calling me a traitor? What did Jesus mean to accomplish by not preventing the disaster, the death, the sickness, the firing, the loss, the bankruptcy, the silence, the rejection, the fallout, the embarrassment, the temptation, the ruling, the decision, the sentencing, the deformity, the accident, the lawsuit, the divorce, the demotion, the transfer, the bullying, the tears, the fight, the sexual orientation? What does he mean and why can’t he just speak plainly about the meaning of all this or make it go away?
We have all been there, knowing what he said, but not what he meant by what he said; seeing what he has done or allowed to happen, but not seeing his reason for it or even if there was only one reason for it. We are often left “staring at one another”, as though the answers we seek will magically appear in each others’ eyes, but the expressions staring back at us are as clueless as our own. Yet the real trouble with us is not the trouble with us, but that when the trouble comes and triggers our desperate desire to know the meaning of it, we miss the real gift that Jesus passes on to us in our perplexity. When God gives us an incomplete picture of our situation or when he gives us a dark and ugly piece of the jigsaw puzzle he is putting together, we imagine that the greatest gift he could give us is a glimpse at the whole picture. When God says or allows something that leaves us in a daze, we like to think that nothing would be more valuable than to hear God’s explanation for the daze we are in. In extreme cases, we even imagine that God owes us an explanation, even though all our losses are of things we neither had the power to give to ourselves nor the power to keep for ourselves! In our obsession with how much we desire and deserve to know, we miss the gift that God is more eager to give us than his meaning: his mood.
When Jesus is troubled in spirit, he would rather say and do something we find perplexing in order to leave us troubled by what troubles him than say or do something that leaves us enlightened but unmoved. Jesus is more interested in our participation in the condition of his heart than in the secrets of his mind. He is less interested in our knowledge of what he knows, and more interested in our knowledge of him. To be disturbed by the same things that disturb Jesus is a greater gift than to know what caused the disturbance, why it was allowed, how it will be fixed, and when it will be over. God’s greatest gift is always himself, and nothing blinds us to this fact than our desperation to get our hands on what God has and what God can do. So Jesus sometimes leaves us at a loss in order to open our eyes to our gain of having him in our midst and of sharing in his mood. He leaves us at a loss for words, not knowing what to say, for he values us more than our words. He leaves us at a loss for knowledge, not knowing what to think, for he values us more than our thoughts. He leaves us at a loss for understanding, not knowing what to do, for he values us more than our deeds. He may leave us at a loss, but he never leaves us. As it is written, “We are perplexed…but not abandoned”.
Keep the Faith