March 4, 2013 - Monday of the Third Week of Lent

2 Kings 5.1-5
Psalm 42.2-3; 43.3-4
Luke 4.24-30

God is often not what we expect. If we worshiped a human idea, we would never be surprised, but we worship a living God who is greater than us. Part of his greatness is his capacity to surprise us. We are never going to figure God out. When he commands something, we can obey him, even if we do not understand him. We sometimes have to obey God blindly: not because we have shut our eyes but because we cannot comprehend what we see. This may sound disturbing to modern people, that we will obey someone whom we do not understand.

There may have been a time when blind obedience was more acceptable. Naaman does not seem to understand it, but his servants do. Perhaps they were used to following commands that they did not understand. We modern people are more like Naaman: we, each one of us, think of ourselves as commanders. We will not accept a politician who assures us that we simply do not understand the issues of global finance or international relations, who tells us to go along with a plan that seems bad to us. Perhaps this skepticism is good. We have learned that no human person can be trusted. There may not be anyone in this world so intelligent that they really understand all the issues and so virtuous that they are beyond corruption, and if there is, they are not running for political office.

This skepticism, however, should not be extended to our relationship with God. Here is someone we can trust. He understands everything perfectly, and he loves us completely. Once we have come to believe in God, we should not stumble when we do not understand his ways. We should not expect to understand him. He is God. We are not.

It is not wrong to think about God’s ways and try to make some progress in understanding him. God did give us intelligence so that we could understand. We should not expect, though, that we will understand everything about God or that we have to. Our first reaction to the incomprehensible should not be to try and fit it within our limited frameworks. True understanding does come, as a gift of the Holy Spirit. In the meantime we can simply obey; we can safely presume, if not easily, that God is right, that we have something to learn, that God does not need us to teach him anything.