In high school journalism class, I learned every news story should provide answers to five questions, each beginning with “W.” Who? What? When? Where? Why?
Right now, I’m sorting through two different news stories I’ve received during the past couple weeks. I ask the questions:
First, a special friend. A woman with whom I shared laughter, tears, hopes, fears, faith and prayers.
Secondly, the beloved grandson of a longtime friend. A boy who shared his grandma’s birthday and filled a very important place in her heart.
The violent end of two precious lives. One from a self-inflicted wound. One resulting from a criminal act.
During this season of autumn while I’ve been reflecting on “letting go.”
A specific location in these stories isn’t important. The where question I ask is: Where can I take pain and questions at times like this?
Finally, there’s, ‘Why?’ The question I so easily get stuck on. ‘Why?’ The question upon which I speculate long and hard. ‘Why?’ The question which inevitably yields the same conclusion: I don’t know—and will probably never know—WHY!
Stories like these with which I struggle are much more than news reports. They are stories of people whose lives mattered, stories of a woman and a young man who were loved deeply.
Stories with complex layers of pain.
Stories filled with unimaginable loss and grief.
Stories that will alter forever the direction of many lives.
Stories containing a plethora of unanswerable questions.
I’m not a brilliant person, but I’m willing to study hard, and I try to live life in a well-prepared manner. When test time comes, I assume the questions will be ones for which I’ve studied and know the answers. But, I realize there are times—even when I’m well prepared—that I cannot logically come up with an answer. It’s then I turn to my faith in the Gospel (good news) story for answers.
Jesus is my answer to this question. Honestly, I don’t know where else to go. There’s an account in the New Testament I seem to remember at times like this. Jesus was talking about followers who’d deserted him, and he asked some of his disciples if they too would abandon him. Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:68 & 69)
Words from Scripture keep me grounded during times when I wonder: What in the world is going on? Words like these help me achieve a modicum of perspective: “For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
To be completely honest, my timing and God’s timing are seldom in alignment, but through the years my faith in God’s timing has grown. I’ve become a bit more patient. This portion of Scripture helps me: “ …I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands…” (Psalms 31:14b-114a NIV)
An invitation of Jesus begins to provide answers to: “Where-can-I-take-my-pain questions?
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
A few years ago, my world felt upside down. I decided to take a two-day personal retreat in order to spend time alone seeking answers to troubling life questions. I checked into a Holiday Inn located just a couple miles from our home, wearing comfortable sweats, toting my Bible, a brand new journal and a bag of fruits, veggies, nuts and water. I was determined to find answers, clarity and direction.
Two days passed. I read my Bible. I prayed, but
No answers came.
I gained no new clarity.
I still had no idea which paths were best to take.
Finally, I decided to merely ask questions. I titled one section of the new journal: Questions for God. Many journal pages were filled up by the end of those two days.
My takeaway from this personal retreat wasn’t profound, but quite simply, I concluded:
God is okay with my questions!
God is much bigger than my questions!
Later, I read these verses in Isaiah, which have become my go-to Scriptures when life has more questions than answers:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts…” (Isaiah 55:8 & 9)
Listening on YOUR Journey
- When life seems to have more questions than answers, what helps you gain balance and perspective?
- Review the Scriptures above. Which resonate most clearly with you?
There are times when life has more questions than answers!