There are times when we think we have God figured out. Then he does the unexpected. God follows his own counsel, not our dreams or longings or expectations. There is a huge mercy to be found in trusting the God of perplexity.
A person who has followed God faithfully becomes terminally ill. A teenager struggling with life and her faith, becomes chronically sick. You can faithfully know and embrace sound theology and wind up not being able to make any sense out of what God is doing. The bottom line is that the time will come when you and I will have problems with God’s ways. He will be the God of perplexity.
For example, Abraham had taken God at his word and moved his family thousands of miles in faith. He waited 25 years for God to honor his promise of a son. God blessed Abraham with this son and he grew to become a young lad. All seemed good. But, then, God comes to Abraham and tells him that he must sacrifice his son, the son that he loved. God instantly became the God of perplexity.
Our response would be, “Excuse me, would you mind repeating that?!?”
Because we know how the story turns out God’s direction to Abraham does not seem shocking. But imagine that you are hearing the narrative for the first time. Imagine that you are Abraham.
In our headline driven, sound-bite culture we expect and crave the dramatic. It becomes easy to speculate on the trauma and hardship that Abraham must have faced. We would expect reporters to interview Abraham about how he felt about God’s demanding such a difficult thing from him.
But Abraham handles God’s perplexing request with simple, obedient faith. We read:
“Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.”
Abraham’s response is even more surprising than God’s perplexing command. He didn’t complain or cry out in agony. He didn’t have a crisis of faith. He didn’t question God. He immediately set out to do what God told him to do.
As they were on the way, Isaac asks the obvious question, “Where is the sacrifice?”
Abraham responds, “God will see to it.”
There is much more to this story. But, for right now, consider Abraham’s response to the God of perplexity. Abraham had learned over the span of his life that God’s ways are not our ways. God keeps his own counsel. Faith means that God can be trusted whether I like what he says or not.
Abraham lived by faith. He knew God was good and just. He trusted God to do what was right. I pray that you and I would have the faith to respond in humble obedience to the God of perplexity.