Sometimes I wonder if these people asking me difficult questions might possibly be happier if I just lied to them and said, “It’s because of your sin, or your lack of faith, or because you didn’t put enough money in the collection plate last Sunday.”
There you go. Now you have an answer. Satisfied? I’ll bet not, especially if I laid the blame on you. And even if you put more money in the offering plate next Sunday, I have a sneaky feeling you’ll want to know why your problems have not miraculously dried up and blown away.
The story of Job from the Old Testament bears witness to the folly of banging on the doors of the heavenly realms expecting an answer. Job had lots of questions, and he found himself surrounded by the unhelpful company of his local, “comforters,” trying to sort out the insanity of why horrible things happened to a wonderful person like Job. And they believed an answer was present, all they had to do is find it.
Sometimes in the wake of horrible events, we make up rationale arguments, pointing to a progression of logical conclusions, terminating in an ultimate assumption that fits our personal bias and satisfies our situation.
There. Now you have an answer. But our hunger for that elusive, objective truth is not satiated with the empty calories of human logic. As a child, I remember my parents telling me, and I’ve used these words with my children, “Because I said so,” or, “Because I’m the parent and you’re not.”
My children were never swayed, and come to think about, neither was I. All those words really meant was, “As a parent, I’m tired of this topic and your incessant chatter and we are done talking about it.”
I accepted the notion that my opportunity to continue the discussion was done, for now, but I also started formulating plans for the next opportunity to continue my quest for answers. It is extremely difficult for human beings to accept the reality that the discussion is over. Life happens. Build a bridge and get over it.
Job persisted in his innocence, and begged a hearing with God. And yet when Job finally garnered an audience with the Almighty, God ignored his questions and summed up a longer explanation with the simple premise,“Because I am God, and you’re not.”
Over my many years of riding out uncomfortable circumstances and attempting to transcend the challenges of the situation, I have drawn a margin of comfort in the realization that much of life is beyond my control. I may ask questions, but I have to accept the reality, that despite all my education and experience, no answer exists apart from the perfect knowledge possessed only by God.
I may ask, and ask persistently, but I also have to remember that even when Job held an audience with God, God did not directly give him the answers he thought he needed to know.
And Job learned to live with not knowing.