"We can never know the reasons why God does what He does."
At first listen, it sounds reasonable, doesn't it? I mean, how can us small human being understand anything about God, and how He's running the world? He's so big, and omnipotent and so, well, Divine, and we? Well, we're not.
But the problem with this statement is that it goes directly contrary to an authentic Jewish view of Divine Providence. The Rambam in his famous 13 Principles of Faith states that: God did, does and will do everything. Jewishly, God isn't the main player in town - He's the ONLY player in town.
Every little thing that happens to us is a result of Divine Providence. If we get the parking spot, or fail to find one - that's God. If we are earning a fortune or struggling to put food on the table - that's God. If we're fit and healthy, or struggling with all sorts of health issues, God forbid, that's God.
What does all this mean? And what does it have to do with the statement that 'we can never know the reasons why God does what He does?'
Well, it's like this: God is doing everything, and everything He's doing is purposeful. It all has a meaning, a reason, a purpose, and what might that purpose be? Simple: He wants us to work on all our bad character traits, and to fix our souls.
If we spill ketchup on our new suit - that's a hint from God about something that we need to look at, ponder, and work on in ourselves.
If we have a massive argument with our spouse - ditto.
If the bank forecloses on our house - super-ditto.
None of these things are random. They are all messages from God about what particular thing He wants us to work on next. Of course, it's not always so easy to work out the messages, and without regular talking to God sessions, it's definitely very challenging.
But when you're regularly talking to God every single day, and trying to listen to Him, you'll work out 99% of the clues He's sending you pretty easily.
A lot of people don't like to hear that. They like to pretend that everything that's happening to them is random, 'chance', or 'Fate', because that way, they don't have to change, or face-up to any uncomfortable truths about themselves and their behaviour.
I understand that, I really do. I've been tempted to take that route myself, but God hasn't let me. Every time I stuck my head in the sand and pretended that 'we can never know the reasons why God does what He does', God has whacked up the heat, and sent me an even bigger, clearer message that I simply couldn't continue to ignore.
And the truth is, He actually does this for most of us. The small spat with our spouse turns into a full-blown war; the small problem with our kid turns into seriously challenging behaviour; the minor health issue deteroriates into something pretty serious, God forbid.
At that point, we can continue to say 'we can never know the reasons why God does what He does', or we can bite the bullet, and ask God to show us what's going on. As soon as we take that option, we've already solved more than half the problem.
Time and time again, I have had massive, practically unsolvable problems that turned around in record time, once I got the message and started working on whatever it was I needed to look at.
Do I know why I had a two-year-long slug festival in my old house in the UK, or why so many of my toilets backed-up, in all the various houses I've lived in? Still not. But I have a pretty good idea, these days, about why my kids were so miserable a few years' back; or why my relationships went through such a bad patch with so many people; or why my finances had to go into melt-down.
It's true we can't know everything about why God does what He does. But we can still all know more than enough to figure out what we probably need to work on, and fix. But only if we're willing to admit that we're not yet perfect.