The difference between a problem and mystery is that you are a part of the latter and not the former.
A problem is a simple solving of X and Y.
But a mystery involves X, Y, and Z – where you are Z.
This fact makes an answer to a mystery so much more difficult.
For this same reason, science can sometimes show the what, but never the why.
“Getting to Mars is a problem,” Peter Kreeft adds, but “falling in love is a mystery.” Why is that so? Because a mystery is a problem that encroaches upon itself. What does that mean? It means that finding a solution to a problem of which we ourselves are inextricably a part is difficult if we do not recognize our own role in it. That makes it a mystery. A problem just needs a solution. A mystery needs an explanation.
-Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale, Why Suffering?
Does that make sense?
Maybe this is why you can tell your friend the best advice in the world about how to get along with her parents – and still have trouble dealing with your parents.
The passage concludes:
Errors in judgment can be made both from bias and because of an inner shortcoming. That is why a problem is easier to solve than a mystery; there is a theory attached to solving a problem. A mystery is more difficult to understand because there is so much potential for it to be compromised. The facts may not change, but identifying who is involved in the telling is critical.
Also published on Medium.