They are the three words that perhaps reveal our human limitations the best: I don’t know.
Since creation, mankind has been confronted with their inability to know everything. God made it clear to Adam and Eve that they were not omniscient by placing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden and commanding them not to eat of it. This command was followed by a sobering warning: “the day you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
For a short time, Adam and Eve were content in Paradise and all that God provided for them. However, Satan made them doubt this one limitation God placed on them. The devil eventually convinced them that they would be like God if they ate of the fruit, “knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation to be all-knowing and they were banished from the Garden, cursing the rest of creation with the effects of their sin and humanity with separation from God.
Since the Fall, mankind has sought any means possible to transcend our limitations and be all-knowing. Saul consulted a medium at Endor to know what he should do with the invading Philistines (1 Samuel 28), many Kings of Israel kept prophets of pagan religions to predict the future, and Job pleaded with God to comprehend why he suffered heartbreaking tragedy.
But no matter how hard we try, we will never possess the capacity to be all-knowing. We cannot predict our destinies, control the outcomes of our plans or ensure our security – even for tomorrow.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught Americans one lesson, it is that we have no capacity to control the events of the future. Many families have gotten sick and some have lost loved ones. Nearly 40 million are now out of work. We’ve seen a massive increase in depression, domestic abuse and other negative effects from this virus.
Humans crave security, especially when faced with unfamiliar situations. If we cannot find security in knowing everything, what then can we place our hope in?
The answer is in the promises of a loving Father who will never forsake us.
God’s promises provide peace and joy because they relieve us from having to carry the responsibility to need to know everything, something that we were never meant to carry. Instead, he declares guaranteed promises to us as we venture into the great unknown of our lives:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
While we do not have the Garden of Eden to provide us with safety, we have the sanctuary of God’s promises to keep us founded in uncertain times like these. Joy doesn’t come from knowing everything, joy comes from believing in a God who already has our future planned out and guaranteed.
Thus, we can find freedom from our innate lust for knowledge and power and finally rest in God’s control. This enables us to join the Psalmist in saying:
“The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
Adam and Eve did not rest in God’s abundant provisions and boundless grace, and it costed them everything. Christians must learn from this and put our hope in God and not ourselves.