How to Follow God When You Don’t Understand

God is big!

Sometimes he’s just too big…and too difficult to understand.

Isaiah said God’s ways are not our ways–well that’s the truth. However, even if we don’t understand him, we have to follow him–and that can be difficult.

How do you follow God when you can’t understand him?

The Spiritual Sight of the Saints

I talked about Padre Pio in the youth group the other day. They were pretty blown away by the stigmata. To them, it looked like punishment.

I explained how his wounds were a share in Christ’s sufferings. Really, it was a great honor. Padre Pio understood this.

The Saints, I told them, understand things differently than we do. When you get that advanced in the spiritual life, you see more like God sees. From the divine perspective, Padre Pio’s self-sacrificing generosity is the ultimate gift. It shows his deep love and trust. From the human perspective, it just looks like it hurts.

The Man Born Blind

In John 9:1-40, Jesus heals a man who’s blind from birth. Jesus, the Light of the World, “enlightens” him.

Not only does this “Man Born Blind” receive physical sight, he gets a sort of spiritual sight as well. He understands things in a different way and has no problem trusting what he sees in Jesus. He tells the Pharisees that Jesus is a prophet. When he finds out Jesus is the Messiah, he believes and worships him.

The Pharisees can see physically, but they’re blind to who Jesus is. They don’t want to see because it means they must change. They don’t want to give up their own agendas for power, prestige and wealth. So, they refuse to let in his Light! They refuse to see or accept the Truth.

Baptism, the “Enlightening”

The aspect of Baptism most emphasized in the Early Church was the photizmoi, or enlightening. In Baptism, our minds are opened to the divine. We see things in a new way. That’s why, in the first few centuries of the Church, they waited to do in depth catechesis until after Baptism. They knew you couldn’t truly understand the things of God until the Holy Spirit disposed you to understand.

Actually, this is something that continues to happen for us throughout our Christian lives. Our response of faith and generosity with God gives us a deeper share of the Holy Spirit. The more you trust, the more you are enlightened. The more you’re enlightened, the more you understand.

Spirituality Takeaway

Have you ever understood something, some concept in a class perhaps, but a friend didnt? You tell them the answer, they look at you funny and you say, “Just trust me.” It’s like that with God.

How do you follow God when you don’t understand him? Sometimes it comes down to trust and generosity with God.

There is a continual enlightening that must take place in our spiritual lives. When it does, our minds are opened to new and different possibilities. Until then, you have to go on trust. And the more you trust and give, the more you understand.

I’ve questioned many things over the years. When I really researched it, I’ve always found answers in the Church. Now, I don’t question–I trust. I may not understand right away, but that’s just because I don’t know everything.

  • Do you have trouble trusting God sometimes?
  • You have to trust and give of yourself first before you understand more–does this seem backwards?
  • Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Image: Sura Nualpradid /


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  1. “You have to trust and give of yourself first before you understand more–does this seem backwards?”

    In my class I say that the soul trains the body, and the body trains the soul. Often the way for a soul to understand, the body must act as though the soul already understands; and by the body doing virtue, the soul acquires the understanding of virtue.

    • That’s an interesting idea. It reminds me of your comment on education needing to use both faith and reason. Body, mind and soul work in unison with each other. We are, after all, a composite. And, in regards to what I was saying, the soul informs the mind when the mind gives itself over to the soul for training.

      • I hadn’t thought about it ’til now, but with 6th graders I don’t say much about the mind. Because we have a yearlong theme of body & soul starting in Genesis, I try to keep things on a faith & works basis. The mind kind of straddles the body & soul …I’d have trouble making the mind fit in a box and stay there.

  2. Allison says:

    ‘Have you ever understood something, some concept in a class perhaps, but a friend didnt? You tell them the answer, they look at you funny and you say, “Just trust me.” ‘

    Two minutes before I read your post I was telling my husband about a conversation I had at a party tonight. Some of my very dear (non-Catholic) friends were asking about a mutual friend (Catholic) who wasn’t at the party.
    “Her daughter has…what’s it called that you (Catholics) do, Allison?…she dresses up in a white dress and wears a veil…”
    “First Communion,” I said.
    “What’s with the veil…Is it like she’s marrying the church or something…”
    All eyes on me.
    “It’s kind of like a wedding,” I said, feeling very self conscious, “she’s receiving the body of Christ…”

    I think they’re more confused now than ever! 😉 Just trust me, I want to say…

    Sometimes it’s so exhausting being a Catholic in the south!

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