“Can I Be Honest? I Want To Be Okay!”
“How are you doing? Are you okay?” I’m sure we’ve all had this call and even made this call recently, that is, if you live in the Globe-Miami area. With these fires threatening our community and our safety, we have all been a little on edge. We have all been a little more intentional about checking in on friends and neighbors. Why? Because in situations like these, there is just too much uncertainty for us to deal with. We want to be “okay.” Can I be honest? I want to be okay!
It is helpful to note that perhaps the question “how are you?” points to something innate in our shared human experience; namely, the need to be “okay”. That is, the longing we all have for life to be peaceful, calm, and certain. Yet we live in such a broken world where even creation itself groans and longs to be “okay” (Romans 8:22). How can we expect any different? The answer, however, is not in how we feel, (i.e. “are we ok?”) but in what we know.
You see, there may be times where I am not okay in a momentary sense; however, my knowledge helps me manage. When a child has to receive a shot and he is filled with fear, his mother may offer comforting words of reminder. “Mommy’s here.” Why these words? They don’t stop the pain. No, rather the words strengthen the child’s resolve and helps him through the painful moment. So sometimes it’s not simply how I feel but what I know that gets me through it all.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). The pinnacle of the human experience is found in truly knowing God. Sure, that will bring about changes in how we feel, but our current emotional life is not the ultimate goal. Rather, hope that everything will truly be “okay” because one has come to know Christ as Savior and King.
The benefits of knowing God are infinitely more than we could possibly imagine; however, I will highlight three wonderful benefits that come along with knowing and understanding the true God of the universe as revealed in the Bible.
Benefit #1: Knowing God Brings Understanding
Solomon was the wisest man (apart from Christ) who ever walked this earth. As he writes the Proverbs to pass down his wisdom, Solomon highlights the fact that true knowledge only comes through the “fear of the LORD" (cf. Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). This type of language may seem strange to our modern ears, but these words are foundational for knowing God.
Fearing God must entail a worshipful reverence toward God and willful submission to His holy will. It is only when we recognize who God is and who we are that we can truly see this world as it is meant to be seen. Wisdom and understanding, first and foremost, is thinking God’s thoughts after Him.
God is the all-knowing Creator and if we desire understanding, we must first come to understand Him. For hundreds of years, the study of theology was commonly known as the “Queen of the Sciences”; to understand theology (that is, the study of God) is the starting point in our understanding of all the natural sciences.
Benefit #2: Knowing God Brings Peace During Trials Those who know God can and will be “okay” even in the midst of the darkest times because their circumstances and feelings do not dictate their lives. Instead, those who know and understand God will see that God is working, even in our hardest times, to bring about His glorious will. Yes, this includes even forest fires.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). This does not mean we will always understand what God is doing, but we can trust that He is in control and that He knows better than we do. This is why the Apostle Paul can endure through so much suffering and pain, and yet he holds fast to the mission that God has placed before him. “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me" (2 Timothy 1:12).
Benefit #3: Knowing God Brings Eternal Life Finally, and most importantly, knowing God through Christ is the only way to eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3). It goes without saying that the first two benefits are contingent on this last one. In fact, we don’t desire to know God only because we are seeking the benefits in and of themselves. No, knowing God is the end game. Knowing God is the purpose of life.
Even our understanding of eternal life needs to be tweaked. We generally think of the concept of “eternal life” in terms of quantity of life, when in fact we should understand it to be speaking of the quality of life. Eternal life is good and to be desired not because eternity is a long time, but because it is eternity spent in the presence of God. Never-ending life without God is not heaven, it is hell.
Sometimes I have good days where everything seems to be going my way. Other days are not so good. Sometimes I’m happy and sometimes I’m sad. I get angry and frustrated with people and situations. I laugh at my children as they play. I get upset with my children when they fight. How do I feel? That changes from moment to moment. (This is especially true as I've watched the fire creep across the Pinal Mountain range.)
Instead, ask me what I know. I know God. I know that my sins have been forgiven because my Lord Jesus fully paid for them upon the cross. I know that Jesus will come again, and I know I will be with Him for all eternity. Day to day I may struggle, but my hope is not in having good feelings. No, my hope is in the knowledge that God has revealed to me through His holy, inspired, written word, the Bible. This is what I know. What do you know?