God’s Secret Work
“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)
“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalms 139:15-16)
Sometimes we think we know what someone is thinking or intending and other times their actions are a complete mystery to us. I have an older friend who has been making some choices lately that made no sense to me at all. But a couple of days ago she realized that something she feared would not happen, and told me that this fear had influenced her in things lately—and all became clear to me. We even do this ourselves, not knowing why we are reacting to things differently or what changed our perspective. We hide our feelings, fears, and desires because they frighten or dismay us. But God’s work, mysterious and incomprehensible as it is, need never be the reason for our anxiety. Aren’t you grateful that the Lord, who created you in darkness, who has adopted you in Christ, has a plan for all your days, into infinity? (1)
Sometimes we want to understand everything and know how to plan for our futures. Ecclesiastes 11:5 informs us that we cannot understand how God works. We must make our plans based on what we do know about God, others, and ourselves, in this order. I know that God wants my friend to serve him even as she grows into her later 90s because he has given her a missionary’s heart. I also know much about my friend, who is unafraid of death and only wants to serve him, very much aligned with his will for her. My frustration lately stems solely from my inability to focus on her rather than myself—thinking that I would not choose what she did—and my discomfort with being “in the dark.” So I must ask myself, is this how I relate to the Lord, whose thoughts and plans are greater than anything I can imagine?
The contrast between our minds and God’s is expressed directly by the psalmist in verses 4, 6, and 11-12. “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether…Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it…If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
“If indeed a man could foresee and be assured of seasonable weather for sowing and reaping, or a proper opportunity for doing good, all circumstances agreeing, it would be right to wait for it, and take it; but as these things are not in our power, nor within the compass of our knowledge, we should take the first opportunity of doing good, and leave the issue to divine Providence: as in many things in nature we are and should be content to be ignorant of them, and leave them with God, who brings them about by his secret power and providence.” (2) Are you ready to sow and reap today, trusting God for his secret power at work in your life and the lives of others?
(1) “The Bible clearly teaches God’s providential control…over man’s birth and lot in life…There is…a special providence in which God concerns Himself with the details of history, the affairs of human life, and particularly the affairs of the righteous…A ruler that simply laid down certain general principles and paid no attention to particulars, or a business man who failed to look after the details of his business, would soon come to grief. The Bible teaches that even the minutest details of life are of divine ordering.” (Berkoff, L., Systematic Theology, “Providence,” (Page 168), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, Reprinted 1993.)
(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Ecclesiastes 11:5, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-11.html