One of my favourite pieces, over the last few years, is one from 2017 called ‘Life’s Big Questions‘. I thought that, given these times of fear and uncertainty, it would be a good idea to reblog it for my readers’ edification. So, here we are:
Why doesn’t God answer Life’s Big Questions?
So often, especially when we are distressed, we cry out to God, ‘Why is this happening?’ So often we ask the big questions: why does suffering happen; why is there pain if God is so good; why did my wife die so young?
And the silence is deafening. You listen for the Voice to explain things, like He does so often, and yet on these questions, when it seems so really important, He doesn’t say anything. You can almost feel Him looking at you with His huge compassion…
And I think that the reason is that the answer is so deep, so embedded in God’s purposes, so much unable to be put into words, that there’s no way He’d do it justice with a short answer. Such an answer wouldn’t, in fact, answer the question, because the answer is too immense. In some ways it’s almost as if the answer is ‘Wait and see!’ (although there’s a little more to it than that, as we shall see).
Because, only now, after my entire adult lifetime of following Him and learning to hear His voice; learning to hear His heartbeat; learning to feel the gentle breeze of His Spirit’s guidance; living through the very worst thing that could happen to me (Job 3:25); do I begin to get the slightest inkling of understanding, what it’s all about; the answer to ‘Why?’; the reason for the silence that denies me the quick, easy answer.
And I still can’t tell you ‘why’.
But I am beginning to discern the slightest shadow of an inkling of an answer – but I can’t put it into words. This kind of answer is only discerned, not learned, and even then only by actually living through the answer itself. I can’t teach this. But I do trust Him. And that in itself is part of the answer; learning to trust Him and hearing the answers are both part of the same plan.
The answer does not, cannot, come straight away, nor in one minute or ten. It doesn’t come in a week or even a year. No, these answers take a lifetime for us to even begin to understand, to do more than simply scratch the surface. When, eventually, we have trusted God so much, so often, and for so long, that trust does indeed form part of the answers. And each experience we have with God, the joy, the suffering, the standing with others in need, the worship; each of these events generates for us another tiny sliver of understanding; another tiny piece of the big picture of both our elusive answer and God’s purpose.
In a very real sense, God is honouring us by not simply fobbing us off with a short, trite answer to our questions, because there simply isn’t such an answer that would carry any meaning. Therefore, we have to be patient and learn through life itself; this is the only way in which the answers would carry any meaning, because we would have learned them through actual experience and lived the answers for ourselves.
Big questions deserve big answers, and these take a lifetime to hear and to learn. So when you ask the Big Questions, just imagine Jesus holding out His hand to you, silently saying. “Walk with me. I’ll show you as we go”. And He will.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose” – Rom 8:28
I have touched on the idea of seeing God’s plans worked out in their fulness in a previous post – Leaning and Laughing – about two years ago. The key passage in that post, which dovetails nicely with today’s ideas, is this:
Revelation 15:3 has this picture of Heaven where the people are singing:
“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, O King of the Saints”.
Although in some ways (because Heaven is not bound by time), this song is being sung right now; as far as we perceive it, it is being sung in the future when all the outworkings of God’s plans for our earthly lives will have come to their conclusion.
And those saints (that is, believers) have a Heavenly perspective. They can look at the whole sweep of time and history in its entirety, and when they see that, they sing that song. And notice how they *still* say that God’s ways are just – they are full of justice – and true – they are full of truth. Those people can see that actually despite what they thought during their earthly lives, God was actually in charge all along and was working His purpose out. Through good things and bad; through happiness and also through suffering. They can see the whole story; they have read the ending and it is a happy one, and they praise God for being the ultra-clever dude who has worked it all out for them.
I think that complements todays post nicely.
[Edit] – This post was also published on the Unfundamentalist Christians blog on the Patheos website. Click here to see it on that site.