What do you know that God doesn’t know?
This may seem like a rhetorical question, but go ahead and answer it anyway. Grab a paper and pen and write at the top, “Things I know that God does not.”
If you’re like me, you’ll come up with a very short list. In fact, my page is blank.
I could try this exercise with any other person, and I could compile a list. Pitch me against the smartest person on the planet and I could find a small fact that I could win. Pitch me against my most intimate friends, and I could list items they don’t know about me.
Not so with God.
Everything I know, God already knows. Everything I think, or feel, or do, God already knows. Psalm 139 begins, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” The Bible tells us God knows when we sit and when we rise (Psalm 139:2). God knows completely what we will say even before we say it (Psalm 139:4). God knows our follies (Psalm 69:5) and our human plans (Psalm 94:11). God wrote in His book the details of all our days (Psalm 139:16).
There is nothing I know that God does not know. Which then begs the question, what does God know that I don’t?
Job 8:9 declares, “we were born only yesterday and know nothing.” And in the midst of Job’s trials, God pointed out just how much more God knows than us. “Where were you when I laid the earths’ foundation?” God asked. And in a series of rhetorical questions, we sense how great is God’s knowledge compared to ours (Job 38-39):
- Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?
- What is the way to the abode of light?
- Where does darkness reside?
- Do you know the laws of the heavens?
- Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?
- Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God?
- Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?
Isaiah (40:14) also challenges us: Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?
The answer, of course, is no one. God himself is all-knowing. And as we begin to grasp this truth, we can cry out like Paul, “Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33)
We can barely grasp the fringes of God’s omniscience. Not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing, Jesus told His disciples. And even the hairs on your head are all numbered (Matthew 10:29-30).
If this is the level of knowledge of our God – if He knows everything about us, and then some – then that means He knows everything about us right now. He knows the situations we’re in and the struggles we face. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to think that we are the only ones who really “get it.” And when the going gets tough, it’s easy for us to get ahead of God on the solution. We may think we know how to fix something, and we may find ourselves repeatedly frustrated as our efforts seem to hit dead ends.
If so, we need to pause and ask ourselves, what might God know that we don’t?
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah:55:9).
Even amidst our struggles and frustration, we may be in the exact position necessary for God’s plan. God’s paths are beyond tracing out. Rather than trying to find a way out, perhaps we should be asking God what He would like us to do right here, right now. Perhaps we should recognize that maybe we lack knowledge of the full picture after all. And perhaps we should follow James’ advice, who suggests that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
After all, it just might be possible that God knows something I don’t.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate admissions for Purdue University and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org, and follow her @minimustard.