If I had my way, everything would fit a predictable pattern and be nailed down with precise definitions. Yet we can’t fit God into our patterns or definitions, and so it takes spiritual maturity to live with the ambiguity and the chaos, the absurdity and the untidiness.

Accepting the ambiguity of God’s ways is a huge part of living by faith—especially when pain and suffering are part of the mix. As Oswald Chambers writes: “On the human side the only thing to do for a man who is up against these deeper problems is to remain kindly agnostic.” (That is, admit you don’t know). I also agree with Anne Lamott’s assessment of a neatly packaged Christianity when she says, “Any snappy explanation of suffering you come up with will be horses**t.”

Job gets an encounter with God instead of an explanation. For my money, I’ll take one encounter over a thousand explanations. I may not wind up with tidy answers to all my queries, but I’ll encounter God. Faith doesn’t mean that I have God all figured out, but that I’m learning to live with him without having him figured out. I can desire answers and even ask for them, but I no longer assume that I deserve them—nor will I presume to demand them.

– Originally published in The Other End of the Dark: A Memoir About Divorce, Cancer, and Things God Does Anyway


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