I reflect often these days on how much less I seem to know compared to what I thought I knew as a young adult. In those late-teen and early-twenties years, I think so many of us think we have life all figured out and we know how things should be run. Certainly, there is much to be said about the idealism of youth. But that idealism can quickly turn to cynicism, and it’s amazing how much more clarity we gain with the passing of the years. Yet the conflicts between idealistic, even cynical young adults and those wizened by the experience of years can reveal a less-than-healthy generation gap.
So if you identify with that experience, multiply it by millions and you’ll know the gap in the knowledge between God and humanity. But as certainly as we must know that, we humans tend to approach our relationship with God as if we had all the answers. That’s what Job is being chastised for in today’s first reading. Job is understandably upset by all that has befallen him, but God reminds him that God is in control and that God alone has the big picture.
The Psalmist tells us that God’s knowledge even extends to how much he knows about us:
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
And so, when we are frustrated by the way our life is going, and when we are angry that we cannot see the big picture, perhaps the best prayer is again from our psalmist: “Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.”