Of course the implication is obvious. God has more knowledge than every person in that committee meeting. He has more knowledge than every person in the state of California. More knowledge than every person in the United States of America. He has more knowledge than all the humans who have ever lived combined.
Should, but sometimes it’s hard to turn a “should” into a “do” isn’t it? Our beloved family dog, Luke, has died. On his last day the poor little guy could not eat and could only lie on the floor, unable to get up. That evening as we were facing difficult and painful choices about what to do he peacefully breathed his last and left us. For those who are not dog lovers this may not seem like a big deal. He was just an animal, right? Dog lovers know different. Yes, he was an animal, but to us he was so much more. It is hard to express how attached we were to Luke. He was lively, amazingly smart, fun, loyal, cute, and much loved in our family. I know we dog lovers have a penchant for interpreting the instinctive behavior of an animal through a human grid, but to us this dog manifested nobility, loyalty, unconditional love and an exuberant joy of living. It was terribly painful to watch him slip away. Now that affectionate little guy who was part of our family for half our married life is gone for good. Without going into the maudlin details I will tell you that he was a great dog right to the very end of his life.
We all know this is part of life. But as I sat with Luke for part of the day he died as he was nearly unable to move, knowing the end was near, I was pounded by the question “why?” Why must this be part of life? Why must an innocent creature like our loyal dog slowly fade away and finally die? Why must we be left with the sadness caused by his absence? We are helpless against death. We could have spent massive amounts of money at a veterinary hospital trying heroic measures to fend off death, but we would have failed. Death will win and there is not a thing we can do about it. Trying to hold it off is like trying to keep the tide from coming in at the ocean’s edge. It is so frustrating to be helpless against this enemy, and it is utterly sad.
Why does God allow such an awful, abrupt, ugly final thing like death? I have some theological answers. I know that it was not God’s desire for death to be a part of creation, but that it is the necessary result of the introduction of evil into the equation. I know that for us it is not final. And those ideas provide some help at one level I suppose. But honestly, they don’t help much with the sadness. Which brings me back to trust. Simply put, I don’t want death. I hate it. The passing of our beloved dog is another reminder of the pain of loss. I have suffered great pain through the loss of people I love. And Luke’s loss also reminds me of the pain of knowing that as surely as we could only sadly and helplessly watch Luke slip away, some day loved ones will sadly and helplessly watch me slip away. At a gut feeling level, no matter how much I understand the theology, I hate death. My soul screams out in pain against it. I don’t want it. I want Luke back, I want my first son, Joel, back, and I want my Dad back. At the end of the day, especially a sad day, it is going to come down to trust. God knows more than I do. I cannot fully understand why death is necessary, but I can remember that God knows what is best and He loves us. So in the final analysis I need to trust. Yes, I have some head knowledge that tells me why death continues to rule in this world. But more to the point I rest in just accepting that God truly knows best. He is wiser than all the wisdom of men, and the cross has proven beyond doubt that at the heart of everything he does is love. I don’t like having to feel the sadness I feel today. I hate the specter of death in all our lives. But I know I have a God I can trust. He knows what He’s doing.