When We Don’t Understand What God is Doing

by Alicia Bruxvoort March 24, 2020
“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” Ecclesiastes 11:5 (ESV)
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God, I can’t figure out what You’re doing!” I cried after receiving a discouraging phone call on my drive home from the grocery store.

Years before, God had invited me to trade my plans for His. He had whispered a promise to my heart and confirmed it through His Word, wise counsel and prayer.

Believing His promise demanded faith, I had said “yes” and followed in obedience.

At first, following God’s plan felt exhilarating. My prayer journal read like a grand tale of God’s greatness.

But then, the journey began to look different than I’d imagined. The road was filled with more potholes than I’d anticipated, and as I let God direct my steps, it seemed He was leading me to the middle of nowhere, rather than in the direction of a promise fulfilled. I didn’t doubt God’s presence, but I questioned His plans.

My enthusiasm waned. My confidence trembled. On my good days, I felt optimistic and persistent. On my bad days, I felt angry and confused. And on that evening when a phone call sunk my hope, I felt helpless and stuck.

Veering into an empty parking lot, I let my tears splatter onto the steering wheel. “Could You just show me what You’re doing, Lord?” I begged.

I don’t know how long I sat there and waited for the Lord’s reply. But I do know there was no flash of lightning illuminating God’s brilliant plan. No thundering voice explaining His mystifying methods.

Just a quiet thought impressed upon my haggard heart:

“Do you want a God you can explain or a God you can extol?”

Suddenly, through my haze of tears, I recognized an uncomfortable truth: A God of infinite majesty can’t be measured. A God who unleashes miracles can’t be contained. A God whose love is eternal can’t be explained.

Perhaps that’s why Ecclesiastes 11:5 reminds us: “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.”

God sees more than we can see. He knows more than we know. He works in ways beyond our comprehension. (Isaiah 55:8-11) And if we agree to follow Him only when we understand what He’s doing, we’ll always stop short of experiencing His inexplicable wonders.

As I sat in that parking lot with a head full of questions and a heart frayed with disappointment, I realized we have a choice.

We can let the mystery of God bolster our doubt or buoy our wonder.

Abraham praised God beneath the stars — even though he didn’t understand how he’d ever become the father of nations.

David praised God in the wilderness — even though he didn’t understand why he was running for his life instead of sitting on the throne.

The Israelites praised God with a mighty shout — even though they didn’t understand Jericho’s wall would fall without a fight.

I began to praise God, too, because what I do know about Him is far more important than what I don’t:

I know God loves me, and He’ll never leave me. (John 3:16; Hebrews 13:5)

I know He is for me and not against me. (Romans 8:31)

I know God’s Word is true, and His heart is kind. (Psalm 33:4; Acts 14:17)

Lifting my head from the tear-stained steering wheel, I lifted my praises to heaven. And gradually, my disappointments shriveled in the shadow of my swelling hope.

My tears dried, and I headed home. Before me the road shimmered with an ethereal glow. Above me, the sky melted into a stunning swirl of pink and orange. God was painting the sunset once again.

I don’t understand how He does it — scattering breathless beauty across the horizon every night — but I know this: It is wondrous. Just like He is.

Dear Jesus, You’ll never fit into my finite box of human understanding. But You’ll always fulfill my infinite need for a Savior. Give me faith to offer You praise even when I don’t understand Your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Isaiah 55:8-9, “… My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth.” (VOICE)

Job 11:7, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” (NIV)


Our next Online Bible Study, Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel, starts April 6! It's not too late to sign up, and the study is FREE! We want to trade the fear of disappointment from unanswered prayers for belief in the power of prayer. Will you join us? Sign up for the study here. All you'll need is a copy of the book!




Visit Alicia Bruxvoort at her blog today for a free printable to spur you on in praise — even when you don’t understand God’s ways.


When you feel anxious about what you don’t understand today, praise God for who you know Him to be. What are some things you know about who God is? Share them with us in the comments section!

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