God’s Unfathomable Ways

Posted on October 29, 2021


By David Ettinger

The Paradox
Yesterday, October 28, 2021, our ministry, Zion’s Hope, lost a cherished member to complications resulting from Covid-19. John Theodor, our Foreign Field Director in Jerusalem, was 54 and left behind a loving wife and three teenage children.

On Memorial Day 2017, our extraordinary missionary Tony Simon – who had the zeal and courage of a John the Baptist – was struck by a car at night and instantly killed while crossing a street in Iraq.

John Theodor

Tony was just 2 weeks short of his 54th birthday, and left behind a loving wife and 3 children in their mid to lower 20s. Tony’s wife grieved mightily for several years, and is still struggling, while Tony’s 2 youngest children also had difficulty accepting the loss.

Both Tony and John were dynamic servants of God. They loved the Lord Jesus with all their hearts, and lived to share the Gospel and help lead people to faith in the Savior. They were both wonderful husbands and fathers and loved their families deeply.

When I think of myself by comparison, I see quite the paradox, and I struggle to figure it out. I struggle to understand why God does things the way He does. I struggle to understand God’s unfathomable ways.

The Comparison
Having read martyr literature for almost 3 decades, I am well aware that God’s servants often suffer greatly and meet untimely deaths. The Bible gives us examples of this, as in the cases of Stephen and the apostle Paul. No mention is made of Stephen’s family, and very little of Paul’s – but enough to give us the impression that Paul had no wife and children.

So, yes, there is nothing strange about God’s servants suffering and dying, but it always seems worse when they leave behind wives and children – especially when the children are young and emotionally connected to their dad.

This is where I compare myself to such servants – particularly to my friends Tony and John. I turn 64 in December (God willing), which puts me almost 10 years older than them when they died. Also, I got divorced at age 28 and never remarried, so there is no wife who will be subject to grief when I die.

Furthermore, my lone child, Aaron, turns 38 in November, has a great job, great house, great wife, and great kid. He loves me, but certainly doesn’t need me, and though he would miss me should I suddenly die, his life would go on as it currently does.

In other words, my passing would be far less impactful than those of Tony and John, yet it was God’s will to take them and allow me – for now, at least – to keep chugging along.

Tony Simon in Iraq

By human reasoning, this makes no sense. Both Tony and John were far better men than me, far better Christians than me, and far better servants of the Lord than me. Also, they had wives and children who greatly love them and grieve their passing. Humanly speaking, the Lord taking me instead of them would have made so much more sense – there would not have been nearly as much emotional damage.

I know, this talk is foolish and the world has been pondering such realities since its creation. Still, it’s what’s stirring around in my head right now. Yet, I acknowledge God’s ways are perfect and that we, while here on Earth, see through a glass darkly. The curtain has not yet been drawn back on God’s ways that we may understand them. Therefore, I turn to Scripture:

  • Isaiah 55:8-9: “ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ”
  • 1 Corinthians 2:11: “… who among people knows the thoughts of a person except the spirit of the person that is in him? So also the thoughts of God no one knows, except the Spirit of God.”
  • Romans 11:33-34: “Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?”

May God bless us with his peace as we struggle to comprehend His unfathomable ways!