Arrogance v. contentment: Faith in the midst of MH 370 mystery


ANDALUSIA, Ala. – Sometimes, our collective drive to solve every mystery borders on arrogance. There is biblical precedent for the value in not knowing it all.

“You know they’re never going to find that plane, right?”

“Maybe it got sucked into a black hole.”

“I bet it went off course to a secret location because it was hijacked for drug trafficking.”

“What if one of the pilots committed suicide and took the plane down on purpose?”

“There never was a Flight 370. The whole thing was made up to take our eyes off the real news that isn’t being reported.”

“Oh no – the black box is still pinging at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.  They’re going to find it any day now.”

Each of these explanations, and no doubt countless more, has been presented to explain the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 on March 8 of this year. For weeks, the biggest story of the day was all about solving this mystery. The frenzy over not knowing bordered on anger over an unfulfilled entitlement to know all the answers. Aside from a cursory mention of the grief and worry for the passengers’ families, the media coverage (not to mention the water cooler coverage) has been wholly devoted to attempting to solve or explain away the mystery of the disappearance.

Oddly, of all the hypothetical scenarios listed above, the one that gets met with the most opposition is the one that asserts we will never find that plane. It seems that people are willing to entertain any possible scenario when trying to solve a mystery, except the scenario in which the mystery remains unsolved.

Remember that show, “Unsolved Mysteries?”  That show wouldn’t stand a chance in the information age. People used to be fascinated and beguiled by the idea of a mystery, to the point that a major network could carry a primetime show based solely on stuff that had no answer. Try to imagine yourself watching something like that right now. Infuriating, isn’t it? We have become so conditioned to be able to answer everything, that the idea of not being able to solve something is wildly uncomfortable.

There is biblical precedent for the idea that there is arrogance in thinking we know everything or that we need to know everything. After several chapters of Job doing just that, God lets forth quite the rant, opening with, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?”  He follows that opener with a quick, “Gird up your loins like a man,” and then proceeds with a litany of examples of how Job doesn’t, in fact, know it all. Job gets the point, and all ends well, but the message emerges clearly: it is neither our duty nor our privilege to know it all, and to assume so is both arrogant and ignorant.

Maybe we will discover what happened to flight 370. Maybe it will become a mystery that goes on for ages, like the Bermuda triangle, or where Jimmy Hoffa is, or what exactly Chumbawumba’s appeal was in the first place. The point is, regardless of the information available to us in our 2014 lives, there are mysteries we will never solve. To be sure, it’s always good to learn and explore and innovate and create; that stuff is vital to our humanity. But to approach life with the idea that we can and must know everything, that there can be nothing out there too big for us to solve, is arrogant, and removes us from our greatest calling, to love God and to love one another.

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