Life’s mysteries are, well, mystifying. Webster’s dictionary defines mystery as “anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.” And while many of like a good murder mystery, the unexplained or unknown in our own lives does not win our applause.
I appreciate these other words for mystery. Conundrum. Enigma. Riddle. Cliffhanger. Whodunit. Cryptogram. Rebus. (Rebus? I’ll let you look that one up.)
For some, the unanswered questions remain: where is intelligent alien life? Or, why is prevalent dark matter actually invisible? One of my all-time greatest mysteries is where are all those missing socks from the dryer? Did they burn up? Did aliens suck them out of the dryer hose?
Yes, I was that kid in school who raised her hand and simply asked, “Why?” I was curious to understand the reasons when the teacher stressed a certain fact or insisted we do the math problem her way. Why? I wondered. “Why?” I asked when I came up with the same answer doing the problem a bit differently.
Whys Not Always Answered
This week I was jolted with news of a longtime friend’s mysterious death. Apparently, she either died via her own hand or her death was an accident. There are a lot of whys and mystery of someone passing from this earth too soon. Many of these mysteries and whys are not always answered on this side of heaven.
If there is even a desire or need to even ask questions in heaven, I have long quipped that one of my first questions inside the Pearly Gates will be about desert turtles. Why do some of these turtles—that no human ever sees—will live to well over 100 years and our beloved pets may make to 15 years? I just don’t understand this mystery and would like to think that the human-pet connection ranks a higher priority than a loner desert turtle that spends most of its days underground. Really?
This morning in my devotions, I read author David Paul Tripp’s encounter with a life-changing mystery. A drunk driver careened onto a sidewalk and struck his daughter as she was walking home from work one evening. The devastating injuries left Nicole with 11 breaks in her pelvis and extensive internal bleeding. David’s heart cried, “Why, why, why?” when he first walked into Nicole’s intensive-care room. The whole world seemed to crash into darkness in that moment.
Life’s Mysteries Are in His Hands
It took four years of travail for Nichole to recover well. I found myself pulled into Paul David’s words on this mystery of his daughter’s accident and God pulling them through. Paul David writes:
I held onto the thought that our lives were not out of control. We were comforted again and again with the thought that when it came to Nicole’s accident, God was neither surprised nor afraid. You see, there is no mystery with God. He is never caught off guard. He never wonders how he is going to deal with the unexpected thing. I love the words of Daniel 2:22: “He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him.”
God is with you in your moments of darkness because he will never leave you. But your darkness isn’t dark to him. Your mysteries aren’t mysterious to him. Your surprises don’t surprise him. He understands all the things that confuse you the most. . . . He holds both you and your mysteries in his gracious hands, and because he does, you can find rest even when the darkness of mystery has entered your door.
I love that the mysteries and out-of-control experiences of our lives are no surprise to God. No mystery to our Creator. What a comfort to know that even though our questions and baffled times (even the moments when we can’t figure out a rebus) may surround us in darkness, we can rest assured that God is not rattled.
He shines light and love on our bewildering times and never tires of us raising our hand and asking, “Why? Why? Why?” That’s the kind of gentle teacher I will follow anywhere. Well, wait. Maybe not out into the desert to see those centenarian turtles.
Excerpt taken from New Morning Mercies, Paul David Tripp, Crossway, 2014.