As an admitted news junkie, I confess I spent a lot of time the last ten days in front of the TV, toggling between election mania and the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Sandy.
Americans react to these kind of events differently than, say, Third World countries, where a kind of fatalism or resignation is often the response. Here, we want to know why.
In one news account in the aftermath of the storms, a middle-age woman stood in the flooded streets of Staten Island–the power out, homes destroyed all around her. She said that her elderly mother was sitting upstairs in a freezing apartment, unable to walk the stairs to safety. And, even if she could get help carrying her mother downstairs, there was no place to go.
The daughter yelled at the reporter, “They’ve forgotten us! Where’s the Red Cross? Where’s FEMA? I want ANSWERS and I want them NOW!”
I don’t blame her. I love questions. And I expect answers! Questions help us navigate through an increasingly hostile world. Demanding answers is the American Way, right?
Well…not from God’s perspective.
First, he’s God. He doesn’t answer to us. (Check out Job 38:4 to 40:5.)
Ironically, despite the whole chain-of-command thing, he still invites our questions and longs to hear what’s on our mind. The key is to remember who’s the boss.
It isn’t that God doesn’t know the answers. Rather…
Sometimes it’s none of our business. He’s been at it a very long time and managed just fine without us. Our audacity is not helpful. We need to let God do his job.
Sometimes we can’t handle the truth. We’re too stubborn, too immature, too bent on what we think is the best way to handle things. We’re sure we’re right. We just want God’s rubber stamp. But God knows there’s more important inner work to be done in us first. Instead of giving in to our demands, he gets to work prepping us for what’s up ahead. If we knew now what is coming, it might freak us out.
Sometimes the answer is “not yet.” It’s not what we want to hear. Thankfully, God feels no pressure to act prematurely. He’s working toward the best outcome, not what will make us feel good at the moment.
Sometimes we need to give questions a rest. Learning and growing is good. God gave us keen minds. He expects us to use them. But an obsessive need to know every detail of everything–before, during or after it happens–is a hyper-vigilance born of fear.
Wisdom and discernment matter. Direction matters. Boundaries matter. God can help with all of it. But there will never be enough answers to make us feel completely safe in the world. Safety comes from depending on him, not on always finding an answer.
The greatest challenge of our life may be learning to live at peace with unanswered questions. God knows what he’s doing. Our lives are still safer with him than any of the alternatives.
He doesn’t need to change. We do. Our part? Humility. Reverence. Trust. God’s part? Love. Grace. Grace. Grace.
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