YOU MUST NOT ASK ME THE WHY
Once upon a time, this saint encountered an angel and requested him to be allowed to be with him in his wanderings on earth, so that he may understand something of the secret workings of God. The angel at once granted him permission to be with him and observe all his doings on earth. But he laid down his strict condition in the following words. "You are only to observe my doings (at any stage and in any way), without asking me the explanation for my actions. You would not be able to judge and understand Gods ways. Even if you are not able to understand them, you must not ask me the why of all that you see me do while you are with me."
The saint promised that he would merely observe and that he would not pester him with any questions even if such questions arose in his mind. Only then was he allowed to follow the angel in his wanderings on earth.
Once they got into a boat to cross the sea. The boatman offered his services to them without charging them his usual fare; just because it pleased him to help them. When the boat was in the midst of the ocean, the angel took off one side-plank from the framework of the boat and threw it away in the water. The saint at once got worried and exclaimed, "Why are you damaging the boat? Shall we not all be drowned along with the boat?" The angel reminded him that he had already agreed not to ask him any questions, whatsoever, and asked him to remain quiet.
After landing, they came upon an Arab youth. To the utter bewilderment of the saint, the angel at once killed the youth on the spot. The saint found it very difficult to remain quiet and asked him excitedly, "Why did you kill that growing life?" At this, the angel replied, "Did I not tell you that you would not be able to understand God's working? You must keep to your promise that you will not ask any questions." The saint realised that he had failed to fulfill the condition which he had accepted; and he wanted to be excused.
Then they both came to a village where they requested the villagers to give them some food. But the villagers only treated them contemptuously and drove them away without giving them alms. When they came to the outskirts of the village, they saw a dilapidated wall in ruins, which was intended to protect the village from the invasions of enemies. The angel went to the wall and repaired it, spending much of his valuable time. Again, the saint could not contain himself and asked, "Why did you repair that wall for the villagers who did not even give alms to us? You have done this labor of love for nothing. For so much labor in the village, we would easily have got sufficient remuneration to procure food and allay our hunger."
To this, the angel replied, "You have again asked a question in spite of your having promised merely to observe and keep quiet. It is of no use divulging the secrets of God's ways prematurely. It requires the greatness and patience of God to understand His working. You have tried to pry into God's secrets, which you must not divulge. It is now time for us to part. But never mind. Before we part, I will explain to you the reasons for my deeds.
"The boatman is a poor but pious man. When I took away a side- plank of the boat from a prominent place in its framework, I knew that a king of robbers was approaching in that direction. This robber-king was collecting new and efficient boats to carry on his plunders and whenever he saw a good boat, he would snatch it away from the owners. However, he left untouched any boats which were in a broken and dilapidated condition. I took away a huge side- plank in order that the boat may look uninviting. Otherwise, the pious and poor boatman would be relieved of the only means of his livelihood.
"Now the Arab youth whom I killed was notorious and vicious. If he had lived, he would not only have perpetrated heinous crimes, but would surely have brought upon his pious parents an agonising blasphemy, which they in no way merited. It was the will of divine providence that I should kill this Arab youth in order to save him from further sins and save his parents from the suffering of undeserved ill-fame.
"Now coming to the repairs of the wall. Be it known to you that one pious man has kept buried under it his valuable treasure with a desire that it may be of use to his sons. But, it is God's will that his sons must get that treasure when they grow up and that no one else should get it. If the dilapidated wall had further fallen, the treasure was in danger of being exposed to the sight of the wicked villagers, who would surely have taken possession of that treasure for themselves."
"Rest assured that all I did, which was your special privilege to observe, was not on my own accord or initiative but by the orders of our Divine Father whose real greatness even we as angels can only partially understand. God's ways might be inscrutable to the world, but His love for the world is unbounded and His justice is unfailing."
With these words the angel parted, leaving the saint in deep contemplation. And the saint decided to live in complete resignation to God's will even when his limited intellect could not understand its real meaning.
SPARKS OF THE TRUTH, pp. 55-57, ed. Dr. C. D. Deshmukh
1971 © Universal Spiritual League in America, Inc.