I Don't Know - by Rexella Van Impe


By Rexella Van Impe

As a child I'm told, I asked lots of questions. I used to follow my father around as he worked in his garden, asking him about all kinds of things. I was curious about everything!

"Why do green tomatoes turn red, Daddy? Why do potatoes grow under the ground? Why does corn come inside a wrapper? Why are there so many bugs and worms in the garden? How can they tell what things are good to eat?"

Dad was very patient and never let me know if he got tired of hearing so many "whys." It seemed to me at the time that he always had an answer for any question I could ask. Very, very seldom did he ever say to me, "I really don't know."

I don't know if my dad's ability to always have an answer for me encouraged my inquisitive nature or not. I'm not even certain that his answers were always correct. But to this day I still have a very active sense of curiosity about situations and ideas.

"You ask so many questions!"

My husband and I have traveled all over America and into many other countries of the world on ministry trips. As we encountered strange places and observed unfamiliar customs, I'd have a hundred questions about what things were, why events happened, how long this had been going on, where it started, who was involved, what it all meant-on and on, more and more. Jack sometimes said, "Rexella, you ask so many questions!"

Do you ever wonder about the events and goings on of your world? Like me, do you still find yourself asking a lot of whys and whens?

Today, I often find that people come to me with questions. Although Jack and I weren't privileged to have children to ask the usual million questions about life and the world, we are regularly approached by people who seem to think that because we have spent a lifetime in the ministry, we must have all of the answers. Frequently, we are asked some very difficult questions, the kind for which there really aren't any good, definitive answers. For example, I've been asked why God chose Moses, who stuttered, instead of Aaron, who was articulate, to go before Pharaoh to demand the release of the enslaved Hebrew people. Why did God choose a foreign woman, Ruth of Moab, to be the great-grandmother of David instead of some sweet Jewish girl? Why did Jesus choose a thief and a traitor, Judas, to be one of His twelve disciples? Why did God choose for His beloved Son to be born in a stable instead of a palace?

Why, God, why?

There are also some other questions-the really hard, troubling kind that bring tears to my eyes and leave my heart aching inside. Just in the last several months, desperately hurting people have asked: "Why did my wife (or husband) die just as we were beginning our lives? Why was my child born with an incurable disease? Why didn't my marriage last? Why is life such a struggle for so many good people who have physical ailments or financial reverses? Why do some have so much and others so little? It doesn't seem fair. Why is there never any lasting peace in the Middle East?"

Time after time, I find myself responding to impossible, imponderable questions like these with a simple, "I don't know." There is no other honest reply I can give.

Not long ago, a friend shared with me a little story that blessed my heart and helped me think more clearly about why certain things happen in our lives. This story is so powerful that it may bring the light of understanding to you or someone you know who is struggling to find any meaning or purpose to life.

Interrupted miracle

According to the story, a man once found the cocoon of a butterfly and decided to watch the miracle of metamorphosis. One day a small opening appeared in the cocoon and the head of the butterfly emerged. The man watched in fascination as it writhed and wriggled, struggling to force its body through the little hole.

To his consternation, the struggle went on for hours until the exhausted butterfly seemed to stop making any progress-it appeared that the creature had gotten as far as it could and was unable to go any further. After a long time, the man couldn't stand it any longer. So, to help the butterfly, he took some small scissors and snipped off the tough wall of the cocoon.

Then the man sat back to watch, fully expecting at any moment to see the butterfly's wings unfold and expand to support the body, which would contract in time. But it didn't happen! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a deformed body and shriveled wings, never able to fly.

What the well-intentioned man did not understand was that the butterfly's struggle to get through the tiny hole in the constricting cocoon was necessary to force fluid from its body into its wings. Only the ongoing, wearisome struggle prepared the butterfly for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need if we are to fully develop in our lives. At the time, our trial and ordeal may not make sense or be understandable at all.and certainly does not seem to be part of a loving God's best plan for us. But if He allowed us to go through our lives without challenges or obstacles, the result might be crippling. We would not be as strong as He intended for us to be, and perhaps we could never fly.

Isn't this a dramatic and remarkable story? And what a powerful truth it embodies. When you look back at the hard places in your life-perhaps even the ongoing struggle you are facing right now-realize that God knows who you are and where you are. His plan for your life is good. No matter how trapped you may feel by what seems to be cruel circumstances, God's plan is for you to be free.and to fly!

From Trials to Triumph

One of the most amazing stories in the entire Bible is the account of the life of Joseph. When he shared the dreams God gave him, his father rebuked him and his brothers abused him. Sold into slavery in a strange land, his master's wife deceived him and he was banished to a dungeon. Then, even those he tried to help in prison betrayed and forgot him. Who could ever explain so much misfortune and sorrow?

Yet God used all Joseph's miseries and crushing circumstances to prepare him and put him in position to play a crucial role in history. We all know how God raised him up when the time came for him to be used to save an entire nation in the time of famine, including his own family.

But Joseph never would have developed into one of the most powerful men in all the world if he had not struggled his way through the bondage of the cocoon. What if Joseph had gone down to Egypt and sat around crying, "Woe is me. Why am I so persecuted?" He never would have developed and used the talents God had given to him. And he probably would have sat in jail for the rest of his life.

Joseph was willing to struggle within the cocoon. He was willing to accept what God had done even when he didn't understand it. He remained determined to become better, not bitter. As a result, the day came when Joseph, looking back at all the unanswerable whys of his life, could say to his brothers, As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good (Genesis 50:20).

Here's another inspiring thought you may want to keep to encourage you during tough times-


I asked for strength.
God gave me difficulties to make me strong.


I asked for wisdom.
God gave me problems to solve.


I asked for prosperity.
God gave me a brain and brawn to work.


I asked for courage.
He gave me danger to overcome.


I asked for love.
God gave me troubled people to help.


I asked for favor.
He gave me opportunity.


I received nothing I wanted.
I got everything I needed!


So much truth in so few words! And maybe-just maybe-they help answer some of the whys in your life. For we can never be all that God wants us to be until we've gone through the process of development.which often is found only in the struggle. The Word of God helps us to grow as we strain our way out of the cocoon of difficulty. Our trust and faith in the Lord help us to develop the wings we need to take flight.

Instead of saying, "I don't know why this has to be in my life," we can say, "Thank You, God, for helping me develop into what You want me to be."

It may be that you have spent too much of your life trying to avoid difficulty, running from obstacles, shrinking back from trials. As a result, you may feel that you have ended up like the butterfly in the story, with a swollen body and shriveled wings, never having achieved your potential or God's perfect plan.

Launch out into the deep

Unlike that unfortunate butterfly, it is not too late for you. God has given you the marvelous privilege of being able to choose to change. You have the opportunity once again to launch out into the deep and put your faith in the Lord. You can begin again to grow and develop. There are still challenges to face, battles to fight, races to be won. There are still opportunities to exercise your shriveled wings of faith until a marvelous metamorphosis takes place in your body, soul, and spirit. The day can yet come when you will take flight and be all that He wants you to be.

How can this happen? I don't know how. I only know it can happen.and does! But even in the process of not knowing, we can be growing. We don't have to fully understand the secrets of God to benefit from them. His mind is too wonderful for us to completely comprehend.

The Word of God declares, The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Sooner or later, all of us must reach the place where we don't worry and fret about the secret things, the unknown, the unexplainable questions. Standing fast in trust and faith, we can say, "Why ask why?" and be content.

How precious, then, to know that we do not have to walk through the dark days of our lives without the sustaining faith of God. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the glorious truth that God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3). This is why, even when we can't answer the questions that life throws at us, we still know the Answer!

One of my favorite old gospel songs says it beautifully-

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand,
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

Oh, my dear friend, I bless you today in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that God will guide your path and make it bright. I pray that He will dispel the darkness around you so your feet will never stumble out of His plan. Expect the desires of your heart to come true and receive Christ's peace as a reality, resting upon everything you do. And may goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life. Amen . and Amen.