Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When There Is No Answer

“I know God has a plan, but…,” 

Usually we leave the sentence unfinished, because we know we shouldn’t say the thing we really want to say: 

Why? Why did this happen?   

We really want to know, but there’s also a bit of accusation in the question. We don’t just want God to answer us. We want him to answer to us. 

“Explain yourself, God. Lay out your reasons as to why you did what you did. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“That’s not what I meant to say,” we protest.  But it is. 

Don’t worry. No one ever got punished for asking why. We’ve all been there. And we’ve all encountered the frustrating silence that comes in response to the question.  As much as he loves us, understands us, and wants to help us, God won’t explain himself to us. 

But he cares. 

I sometimes think of the Holy Spirit as a gentle mother holding a tired, overextended, very unhappy child. Her arms wrap around him and she covers him with kisses and whispers that things will be better in the morning.

God rarely says what he is going to do. He simply shows us as he’s doing it. And when we are confused and sad, he whispers, “It will be okay.” 

And it will.  


  1. Thank you for this post, Pastor.
    I have thought a great deal deal about this lately. This is a fortuitous post, for me, in some ways.
    I think that I am not as aquatinted with God as i need to be to understand the subtle ways that he/she is untangling the secrets that perplex me. I have a tendency to look for the old testament writing on the wall or a clearly legible sign, but I have come to see that I can't get the answers I need without spending more time with the author of all things.
    I don't get answers because I am not fluent in the language that God is speaking to me. I am coming to understand that it is in everything around me, in a thousand different ways and never in flashing lights in the sky.
    And yes, Pastor, I see what you are saying, while we untangle the things that vex us, a voice whispers that it will be okay....keep searching.
    Does the bible promise somewhere that the Lord will give wisdom to those who lack it, and ask for it without rancour? I seem to remember that it is promised to the seeker.
    I feel very comforted by that thought and by the image of a gentle parent quietly soothing a unsettled child.

  2. Debbie, you have a good memory. It's from James 1:5 and in the NIV is translated:

    "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.'

    In United Methodism, one of the criteria we use in arriving at truth is through our experience. Growing up, I sort of doubted the wisdom I gained through experienced and deferred to the teaching of my culture. I have learned to accept that things happen which are not consistent with my understanding of how things work.

    Perhaps it's not so complicated as learning a new language. Maybe it's in believing what we experience to be true and instead of defying it, accepting it and seeing it in a positive light.

    1. BTW, that handingwriting on the wall from the OT? The king didn't understand it at all and had to get Daniel to translate it for him.

      One other thought. Knowing God and knowing yourself go hand to hand.