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The One Place We Forget to Look When Looking For Answers

Why is it the last place we look, is always where we find something we lost?

The question is actually an old riddle. The answer is amusing but not always obvious. It’s the last place we look because once we find what’s lost, we stop looking.

Seriously though, when looking for answers to the calamities of life, often the last place we look is toward God. But, in fact, He is the one reliable source in which, and on whom, we can trust and rely for peace and understanding.

A Better Plan When Looking for Answers

Wouldn’t it be better if we looked to Him first  as our resource for strength?

Instead, we choose the more difficult path, learning the hard way by trusting in self alone. Then ultimately, when all else fails, it’s our faith in Him that becomes a source of strength and hope. It’s sometimes as though prayer is almost nothing more than an afterthought.

We may not always find the answers we are expecting, but that’s because our human minds tend to presume to know how God should answer us. Hopefully, through faith we realize peace, and gain an understanding and experience that becomes part of our identity in Him.

The hope that results from looking to God gives us something very real we can share with others.

We live in a fallen world, suffering the effects of man’s true nature – selfishness and greed. But no man need suffer alone.

We can all identify with those sharing similar trials and tribulations. In doing so, we lighten the load of our fellow man by sharing strength, hope, courage, and fortitude, mutually enduring the challenges of life and its adversities.

My Own Struggle to Look for Answers

Before my junior year in high school, I survived a painfully devastating trauma.

My family’s home was engulfed in flames as we slept. My screams of terror alerted three of my brothers who escaped through windows. But I was trapped in the inferno trying to get to my mother and youngest brother. My efforts to reach Mom and Toby were to no avail as they both perished in the fire.

Dad was out of town on business, having left me as “man of the house.” It felt like I had let him down. I was critically injured by smoke inhalation and burns to over 65% of my body.

My recovery involved years of reconstructive surgeries and countless hours in the hospital. Ultimately, later in life, having been inspired by many in the healthcare field, I became a surgeon of plastic and reconstructive surgery, working with other burn victims and trauma survivors.

Interestingly, my burn patients at first don’t always notice my scars, the obvious signs that I too have suffered and survived a significant burn injury.

Eventually and inevitably , when they do notice, they frequently implore me to share my story. Their inquiries of me are indicators that they’re looking outside of themselves for inspiration.

It’s a positive sign that they’re beginning to recover. Yet, I’m usually the one left humbled and inspired – honored by the opportunity to share my own faith and hope.

Understanding vs. Knowing

One thing I’ve never said to any of my patients is, “I know what you’re feeling.” But I’ve often said, “I can understand what you’re feeling.”

The difference between the two statements is that by “understanding” my patient’s feelings, I can identify with them through my having suffered a similar plight. But I would never presume to “know” exactly what they’re feeling.

Each person’s suffering is individually unique to him or her. I doubt any man would claim to know exactly what another man experiences facing the challenges of life. Instead, mutual empathy and compassion is a result of two or more people sharing similar struggles.

When the sufferer has some kind of relationship with God or higher power, by virtue of that relationship alone, each person’s experience is unique.

There is one exception, probably familiar to most Christians. God sent Jesus, in the likeness of man, to take on all of the sins of man with their inherent suffering. We can identify with Jesus as a man, but He alone is the only one who knows exactly what all of us feel.

And that’s good news.

It’s certainly reassuring to know that God, through His son, knows exactly how we feel. And His compassion knows no limits. Likewise, even as mere mortals, we can identify with our fellow man sharing our own experience, strength, and hope.

But we can’t expect to understand or know everything of God’s plan. Our own knowledge does know limits and fails us. So we turn to him in faith..

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5-6.

In previous posts, we discussed the way God can bring good from otherwise tragedy and sorrow. And while I never know what the future holds, I know who holds it.

God does know the difficulties we’re to face long before we confront them. While He empathizes and grieves alongside us, sometimes our difficulties are preparation for other parts of His bigger plan for us.

The bottom line is that invariably, my voyage in life tends to avoid stormy seas provided the first direction I turn is toward God, when feeling something is lost.

He’s the reliable lighthouse beacon shining through the fog of despair.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that He wants me to include Him first in all of my decisions. He is the one place I must not forget to look when seeking answers in life. And He remains a never-ending resource of strength and comfort.

Do you struggle to look to God for answers when bad things happen to you?

Where do you derive hope when facing hard times in life?

Thanks for leaving comment with your thoughts.

Photo credit: Flickr

  • Jaz Lozano

    Hello Dr. Mark! Or should i say Daddy Mark! I’ve been an exiter for like 4 or 5 years now and i could say that i’m really grateful to be a fan of them. :) Con, Ri and Tobes has an awesome Dad! for real! Your blogs really helped me a lot in learning more of Christ! Truly, He is amazing. Please keep bogging. I can’t wait for the new one! :) All the love, Jaz. (riley’s future wife) (just kidding)

  • Lindsey V

    Hi Dr. Mark,
    I am really really enjoying your blog so far, it’s been very helpful and I always find something in your posts enlightening and encouraging.

    As far as your question, I do find it hard to look to God for answers when bad things happen to me…I suppose for some reason I feel like I deserve whatever is happening to me and that God is mad at me or I did something wrong. I know in my head that isn’t true but it’s hard to shake the feeling nonetheless. I usually try to numb out any emotions or distract myself.

    Thanks again for your insights.

    • Lindsey:
      Guilt is a feeling we put on ourselves but it’s not a feeling God would have us endure. By believing in Christ you are a worthy and a righteous child of God and will have everlasting life with Him. His teaching and commandments are guides for living but God knew of our shortcomings when He created us and then sent His Son to save us. That’s really good news…rejoice in Him.
      Thanks for your comments and encouragement.

    • Lindsey V

      Hi again Dr. Mark,
      I’d love to hear your thoughts when you have a minute. :)

  • Great thoughts, Mark!

  • Erin Westfall

    Hi again, i thought of this article after reading this and i think you might enjoy it
    http://www.quietrev.com/sailing-lesson-a-love-letter-in-eleven-parts/

    • Erin Westfall

      i know it’s about a couple but i feel like i can relate it to my relationship with god

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