Tim Keller describes as a paradox the fact that our prayers make a difference and things happen because we pray that wouldn’t if we didn’t (Does prayer really change things?) – in the face of God’s sovereignty in and over all things. I wonder if that’s the best word to use to talk about the tension in believing that our praying causes things to happen, and at the same time, our prayers can’t move God to do anything He doesn’t want to do long before we ask.
If I say it’s a “paradox” (two things that are true, but opposite), I struggle to find peace in the midst of real suffering – in those night hours when my wife’s pain is so acute and there are no immediate solutions. But if it’s a “mystery,” two things side-by-side but interacting in a way hidden from me for now (dependent on each other but independent in their working in ways my mind can’t comprehend), then perhaps I can be at peace.
Paradoxes present opposites and no solution. Mysteries present incomprehensible connections and explanations that are yet to be understood. There is a hope that someday the mystery will be unraveled for us. There is no such hope with a paradox.
THROUGH – by Gloria Gaither
When I saw what lay before me / Lord I cried what will You do / I thought He would just remove it / But He gently led me through
Without fire there’s no refining / Without pain no relief / Without flood there’s no rescue / Without testing no belief
Through the fire through the flood / Through the water through the blood / Through the dry and barren places / Through life’s dense and maddening mazes / Through the pain and through the glory / Through will always tell the story / Of a God whose power and mercy / Will not fail to take us through