Why can’t we understand God completely?
It would be a great travesty if we were able to understand God completely.
Life is more than confusing. With all its twists and turns and movements without knowing where we are headed, it is no surprise that at times we wish we could fully understand what God is doing in our lives. If only we could know what he is up to, we reason, then we would be able to trust his love for us.
To Understand God Completely Would Be to Disprove His Sovereignty
This desire to understand God completely turns sinful, however, when we begin to believe that we should be able to understand God completely. It’s not wrong to cry out for direction, to wish that the fog would clear and the right path would be more obvious. But to imagine that God is so small a ruler that his thoughts and ways could be grasped and understood by our finite and sinful minds reveals our lack of a high view of God.
The more God grows us, instead of finding it frustrating that we cannot comprehend what God is always up to, this fact will actually become a great comfort. To be a servant to a God who could be completely comprehended would be frightening because it would prove God is not the great Sovereign we hoped he was.
Not Fully Comprehending God Should Cause Us to Trust Him More
Ironically, if we could understand the mind and ways of God, this would not bring about trust, it would prove that God does not deserve to be trusted with our issues anymore than we deserve to be trusted with them. If we could understand God completely, we would be equal with him, which would mean God’s ability would be equal to our ability in bringing about solutions and salvation.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are God’s ways and thoughts higher than our ways and thoughts. When I am in need of a brain surgeon, I want his knowledge of my brain to surpass mine. The fact that he is better trained, better equipped, and so much smarter than me that I don’t even really understand what he is going to do to help me – this should bring peace because it proves he has the ability to do what others cannot do for me and what I cannot do for myself.
If we are all being honest, every one of us has issues, questions, and dilemmas in life we simply cannot understand or see a solution to. Therefore, it should be a great relief to know that God is so much greater, so much better at bringing solutions, we cannot even comprehend what he is going to do.
We Can Know God In a Way That Does Not Contradict Human Comprehension But Does Surpasses It
If I understood nothing about God, this would be a problem. But if I could understand everything about him, this would also be an issue. Humans can understand much about God, however, our lack of total understanding adds to the evidence that God really is God and we really are created beings in service to him.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Paul finds the motivation to pray such a prayer because he knows God is greater than his understanding. Through the Holy Spirit, we can comprehend the love of God even though this type of knowing surpasses human knowledge. Comfort and peace come not through comprehending everything about God, but through believing his truth even though it surpasses the limits of our human mental capacity.
It should be a relief, not a concern, to know that there are things about God I just can’t comprehend completely. I don’t understand how he has no beginning or end. I don’t understand how he is sovereign and yet I am free to make choices. I don’t understand how his love is so great, he can forgive the worst of sins again and again, far past any reasonable amount of love would allow. I don’t understand how in six days God created everything I see with just his spoken word. I don’t understand how God is three and one.
Through the power of the Spirit, we can know deep truths about God that do not contradict human comprehension but do indeed surpass it.
So when we fail again, when we run into a problem where there doesn’t seem to be a solution, when our theology surpasses our human limitations, or when days seem too dark to go on, we must remember: God is greater than our understanding, therefore he is trustworthy even when we can’t understand the way out.
Understanding God completely and knowing God deeply are two different things. God is greater than our understanding, and this should be a cause of great trust and joy in him.