There’s an old punk rock song that I remember hearing when I was a teenager. It was by Operation Ivy and the chorus went, “All I know is that I don’t know. All I know is I don’t know nothing.” They yelled and screamed those lyrics, but as a young man they made sense to me. I was completely clueless back then and honestly I think I still am. In hindsight, it is interesting to think that a group of miscreant punk rockers had something right.
I think they may have gotten the saying from Socrates when he said, “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.” Even one of the greatest thinkers that has ever lived recognized that he was clueless. He knew he didn’t really understand how this world worked. It is like a fly realizing humans exist. The fly may see a person and understand that they are real, but it can never comprehend our feelings, emotions, and struggles. If the fly tried to understand, he would only come up with wrong answers.
But isn’t that what we do all of the time in our lives? We constantly are looking for the answer to “why”. Why is there pain? Why aren’t my prayers answered? Why can’t I be happy? All these big questions revolve around the fact that we are clueless. We have no idea what is going on.
THE POLITICIAN AND THE TAXI DRIVER
I was reading a book about Black Swan events the other day and a story from it stood out to me, but it has nothing to do with Natalie Portman being a freaky ballerina. For those that don’t know, a Black Swan event is something that happens at random that makes a major impact, but is quickly rationalized in human hindsight. In other words, it is an event that happens that we don’t understand so we try to make sense of it. Typically we get it wrong and still don’t understand.
The story from the book goes like this; An important government leader gets into a taxi cab. This leader is burdened with many big decisions about finances, war, and laws. He ends up in a conversation with the taxi driver and asks the driver’s opinion. The taxi driver simply looks back at the politician and says, “Lord knows.”
I think most people instead say “Who knows?”, but that only eliminates the truth that God really does know. It is the question we state when we reach the end of our understanding. It is our minds are throwing in the towel ad admitting we don’t know. But the so-called “elite thinkers” of today still think they know more than the rest. They never give up and end up with ridiculous ideas about religion, politics, and morals.
The Taxi driver is smarter than any of us. He’s come to the most sensible conclusion. Only God knows. Just like it says in Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding”.
I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND
How many times have we said to God, “I just don’t understand.” I never seem to get any type of response to that question, but I have figured out why. It is because I can not understand. I am too human. A baby in the womb has feet, but doesn’t know why it has feet until it is born and it sees someone walking. The same goes for us in this world. We are equipped with things that we can’t understand now, but it’ll make sense in the next life with Christ. You can’t explain to a baby why it has feet. Even if the baby asked you to explain, it wouldn’t truly understand.
Do note that I can not take credit for that illustration. I heard that one in a lecture by Dr. Peter Kreeft, but the illustration still rings true. How often did Job ask “why”? The disciples had many questions for Jesus and never understood his answers until after the crucifixion and resurrection. The Israelite were faced with the Red Sea. They had no clue how to get across and thought God had abandoned them, but the seas still parted.
The lesson here is that God can see things that we can not imagine. Where we see dead ends, he sees open doors. Where we see pain and suffering, he sees noble perseverance and strong character. He knows what is best for us and we must not rely on what we know because what we know will never be enough. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and he knew there was no final answers in this world. Just read Ecclesiastes and you’ll realize it, too.
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
Everyone hears this all of the time. It is another one of those things we say when we don’t understand. It is a way to answer the question of “why” without having to answer it. I always feel like it is an excuse not to deal with situations. For example, loved ones we know will die and we will attend funerals. Saying “everything happens for a reason” will not work to comfort anyone. Death and pain are a very real consequence of the sin of humanity, but Christ dying on the cross redeems us from death and pain in the next life. That we can understand.
So, instead of saying “everything happens for a reason”, remember that God may be trying to get your attention. I heard a sermon once that changed the statement to “everything happens to you for a reason”. The events in your life may feel impossible to understand, but God knows how to deal with them when you trust in him.
So, be more like the simple Taxi driver that says, “Lord knows”, because he is right. God does know and in James 1:5 it says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God,who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Just because we realize that we don’t understand everything does not mean that God wants to keep us in the dark. Ask him and he’ll guide you to understand the reasons for events in your life.
I was talking to a good friend recently about a break up. It is my first serious break up and I have to turn to people with more experience in that area for guidance. My good friend went through a divorce several years ago. Her husband left her on her birthday and while she was pregnant. She mentioned to me how she always wanted to know why, but it wasn’t until she accepted that she’d never know that she was able to move on. Today she’s happily married to a new husband who loves her and her daughter very much. I don’t think she saw that path ahead of her when things were rough, but God knew that better opportunities were ahead.
Being in a similar situation, I completely understand the pain of not knowing “why” and it made me realize that it is comforting that I don’t need to know. God has arranged our lives to be lived for him and that means they’ll be a few bumps along the way. We all live individual stories, but I have yet to read a book or watch a movie where the main character knew the ending. In fact, the less the character knew the more interesting the story.
Sometimes accepting that we don’t need to know the answer helps us move on. We don’t need to say “everything happens for a reason”. We don’t need to try to figure out every little answer because they’ll always be more questions. We can take comfort in knowing that we are in the hands of a loving God who will give us wisdom and insight when we faithfully call open him. At that point, you can be the taxi driver that looks back, smiles, and says “Lord knows”.