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When We Don’t Know Why, God Does

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Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7, NRSV).

A friend once told me a story of a broken engagement. She explained that her initial reaction was to ask, “Why did God allow this to happen to me? What did I do wrong?”

It has been years since the break-up, and my friend has been able to let go of the pain, see God’s purpose in it all, and experience His peace. After all, if the break-up never happened, she never would have discovered the love of her life. Nor would have I, as I’m referring to my best friend and lifelong companion — my wife! She was able to reconcile her past hurt as she embraced all God had in store for her.

On the eve of His crucifixion, just before meeting with the disciples for the Last Supper, Jesus poured water into a basin and began washing their feet. Bewildered, Peter asked Jesus, “Are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6). Although, at that moment, Peter did not understand the reason behind the Lord’s actions, Jesus offered him simple words of encouragement. God never acts without reason, nor does He conceal His purpose from us forever, assuring us, “later you will understand” (v. 7).

Perplexity and confusion may trouble us for a moment, but God will never abandon us. Lingering questions about who we are, why circumstances occur the way they do, and what the future holds may leave us feeling unsettled, discouraged, and distraught. Still, God has a plan. We can trust Him, having confidence He will reveal what His purpose is when He is ready.

We look forward to God’s full disclosure of all He has prepared for us in Christ. As the disciple John said:

What we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

In the meantime, we weather insecurity and disillusionment by placing our hope in the reality that God has a plan. And He will reveal just what that plan is at the proper time. We can rest assured that though the future may appear hidden and unclear, God is molding all that we are — our past hurts, present failures, and future uncertainties — into something far better, beyond what we could ask for or think (Eph. 3:20). Amid circumstances that don’t seem to add up and life trials we have no explanation for, we can find peace in knowing that God’s plan for us is better than anything we can imagine.

Father, thank you for Your perfect plan. Help us trust that Your plan is better than our own. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 


New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 

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About The Author

Dr. Paul Palma
Dr. Paul J.

Dr. Paul J. Palma is a Regent University professor and the author of three books, including Embracing Our Roots: Rediscovering the Value of Faith, Family, and Tradition. He’s also a worship leader, husband, and father of three who enjoys spending time with his family on walks, trips to the beach, and reading.

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