by Silas B.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!
‘For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

Romans 11:33-36 (ESV)

After reflecting on the past week of door-to-door health screenings and ministry, a common theme keeps surfacing in our debriefing sessions. God works in ways beyond our understanding. One of our groups saw this today after witnessing an altercation in the street and finding out one of their group leaders (volunteers from local churches) knew the individual and was able to have a meaningful impact through being present in the aftermath of the situation. Along the same thread, my group went out today discouraged with the lack of people answering doors and soon began having the same experience. After a block of no one answering the door, we prayed briefly to surrender those feelings, and soon encountered a man sitting on his stoop. He said he grew up as a minister’s son but never fully embraced God, and began expressing interest in coming to The Rock (our local church in Kensington) this Sunday with us. Before leaving, he thanked us for investing in the community and said that even if no one else answers the door today, Jesus left the ninety-nine to save the one lost sheep and encouraged us to be grateful for this one experience. I personally needed that.

One of the difficult aspects of this week has been learning how to respond to stories of tragedy. The man mentioned above shared with us that he’s approaching the one-year anniversary of the death of his son, who was killed in the street by a group of individuals attempting to rob him of a necklace. Another man spoke of his two daughters, who became caught in opioid addiction and now live on a well-known street filled with individuals openly using. Their stories are not the exception; every place has its mix of ugliness and beauty, and this is a part of Kensington’s. How do we listen to these stories and still tell someone that God is good when these stories beg for an explanation? That’s a question I’ve been struggling to produce a good answer for, and ultimately, I don’t think we’re promised that explanation. The beauty of the Bible though is that this struggle isn’t new to us, and figures like Job and Habakkuk show us our own room for crying out to God in distress. They questioned God, yet never received explanations for their own sufferings. Instead, they found peace through a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him, accepting the principle of Romans 11:33-36. If God is our king and we are His subjects, He doesn’t owe us an explanation. I’m finding that difficult to accept myself and share with others, but it’s no less true.