Life is filled with mystery. Paul Coelho remind us, “We have to stop and be humble enough to understand that there is something called mystery.” A mystery is something that is difficult or impossible to explain or understand.
The origin of the world and the beginning of life is mysterious. Some want to explain it through a cosmic explosion that through evolutionary development eventually led to the conditions for life as we know it. This explanation has some good evidence but it still leaves a lot of questions. The origin of the world and life is a mystery. Can it really be known?
What about the meaning of life? Is there any purpose in our existence? This is a giant mystery that has been discussed throughout human history. Some say there is no meaning. Others say they don’t have any clue so we better just live it up. Consumer culture tells us that life is about collecting things. Others says that it is all about family. Many of the world’s cultures, religions, and philosophers have thought about this mystery. Can it be known?
Morality is another mystery. What is the best way to conduct our live? Why does it matter and who says so? Some say morality is a political necessity, a human invention to keep human chaos at bay. Others say morality is oppressive and should be eliminated. “You can’t tell me how to live!” is the cry we hear from some, including adolescents. Religions, cultures, values, and motivations in the world have competing ideas on morality. Is this a mystery that can be known?
Love is a deep relational mystery without true explanation. Paul calls marriage a mystery (Eph. 5:32). Some wives look at their husbands after he wakes them up with his bear-like snore and you wander why exactly you wanted him in your bed. It’s a mystery. Can we understand why we love and crave to be loved?
Mysteries wake up the urge within us to know. Neil Armstrong said, “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” We would not be human without mystery nor would we want to be. We understand that being human means that we cannot fully understand that for which we strive to learn. But that does not mean that we stop trying to understand.
Lately, after my kids tell me something they learned in school or Bible class and I revel some more about the topic at hand they say, “How do you know that Daddy?” And I often say, “I know a lot of things.” They see me as a revealer to some of the mysteries in their little minds. They will soon find out the truth that their Daddy knows very little or at least he knows only things that are available to all humans. Daddy is not a revealer of otherwise unknown mysteries.
Mysteries cannot be known, understood, or explained. Can they? The origin of the world, the beginning of life, the meaning of our existence, the purpose of suffering, morality, and love are a few mysteries of the human experience that cannot and will not be completely figured out by the human mind.
In the Bible, there is a story when the king of Babylon asks the prophet Daniel to reveal his dream and interpret it for him. Daniel says to King Nebuchadnezzar, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Dan. 2:27-28). The Bible’s message throughout is that we have a creator God that reveals mysteries to us. Systematic theology explains that God reveals truth to us through general (nature) and special (Scripture) revelation. There are things that we cannot know without God revealing them to us.
None of us should believe that all of life’s mysteries can be answered in the Bible. God does not intend to reveal all mysteries to us, but he does not leave us unaware either. God does reveal to us through the story of Scripture the answer to some of life’s great mysteries . The basics of the origin of the world, life and its meaning, morality, suffering, and love are revealed to us in the Bible. All angles to these questions are not answered comprehensively in the Bible but they are revealed to us none the less. The point of Scripture, above all, is to reveal God to us. The ultimate revelation of God came in form of Jesus Christ who also brought grace and truth. The truth of Jesus is concrete but it is not comprehensive.
All of our questions will not and cannot be answered and we need to be alright with that. We are called to have faith in God to be the one in control of the mysterious world of which we are privileged to be a part. This does not mean that we cannot discover so many wonderful things about the world and our existence through observation, conversation, science, and experience, but it does mean that we are the created and he is the Creator.
Ultimately, the knowledge we gain from any source, whether from God or human discovery, only reveals more questions. This should lead us to humility, faith, and wonder. Anais Nin reflects that, “The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” No matter how much we learn, discover, and know there will always be mystery and questions. This should not lead us to agnosticism but to faith. We know in part but He knows all.
Leonard Sweet writes, “To follow Jesus does not mean that you have all the answers. To follow Jesus does not mean that you are altogether personally. To follow Jesus does not mean that suddenly the shades go up, the light floods in, and the shadows disappear. It just means you keep on moving after the One who has chosen you, the One you’ve said yes to. And as you travel in his footsteps, things gradually—sometimes very gradually—get brighter.”
I guess you could say the greatest mystery of all is faith. A mystery filled with hope and love.