Why pray? Or for that matter, why do anything at all? God’s in control, right? And doesn’t He know the end from the beginning? And aren’t all of my days already written down? So if God is in control, knows everything, has a plan that can’t be changed, and one really believes all of that to be true, it seems pretty evident to me at least that the believer of said propositions might experience some serious struggles. “Struggles,” in fact, may be putting it mildly.
It’s a subject that is near and dear to me in some ways. For starters, there is no question that these themes run rampant all through Scripture, so being a student of the Word means that this issue can’t easily be set aside. I can’t just think, “Oh I’ll get around to it someday.” I need some answers here!
But beyond the doctrine, beyond the technical jargon, beyond even the answers, is what I think really cuts us to the core—the heart stuff. So in regards to all the restless nights, the frustration and doubt, and even that parched-in-spirit feeling—the feeling that nothing you do or say really matters, that food might as well be tasteless, that music might not as well be beautiful, and that prayer is virtually useless—I first just want to say one thing: I know what that feels like. Personally, I know those restless nights all too well, and I’ve seen up close just how deep and dark these matters can be for some people whom I dearly love. I know it hurts. I know it’s hard.
The interplay of man’s choice with God’s decree isn’t just a problem needing solving. It’s a core issue with massive effect both doctrinally and spiritually, and because of its weight, well . . . let’s just say that countless trees have been felled in the service of men wiser and more learned than I seeking to find “the answer.” I doubt I have much to contribute on the theological side. Yet still, I wish that perhaps I could provide some encouragement, and even offer a few challenges for anyone who may be wondering, “So how does this all work exactly?”
Disclaimer: I won’t actually be telling you how it works.
Instead, I’d like to do something a little different. I’d like to move from the theoretical to the practical. You see, I’ve done the work, and you should too (in fact, I’d be happy to point out some helpful resources should you so desire). And in doing the work I’ve discovered some things, even gotten some answers that I’m pretty satisfied with, but there is something else of which I’ve become convinced: not having the perfect answer doesn’t have to destabilize my walk with the Lord.
And this is precisely what I hope to get across: that it’s a good thing that God is sovereign—so let us rejoice that He can never be surprised or upstaged. It’s a good thing He gave us free will, for in that gift He became the author of freedom—so let us thank Him! It’s control tempered with grace. It’s freedom without chaos. Good for God, good for us.
Obviously, this is merely an introduction, a “lay of the land” as it were. I look forward to offering a few simple reflections in the weeks to come. I hope they help.