When You Are Expected to Give an Answer When There Are No Answers
It happens in every congregation sooner or later – that time when someone’s entire world is turned upside down. Times when the pain is unbearable and the future seems unfathomable. When God did not answer their prayer and they wonder if he even heard their cries. Events that change lives forever. The things that make tomorrow an impossible dream. And one of the worst of these is the death of a child. It does not seem to matter if they die in the womb or as adults in an accident. Death strikes at any age. And parents have to bury children. Nothing will ever be the same. Questions fill every waking hour – in the child’s family but also in our church families. How will I ever go on? How can I face tomorrow…and the day after that…and the day after that? Why did my child die? Why are other children spared? Where was God? Where is my child? What did I do to deserve this? What if it happens to my child? Why did it happen to their child and not mine? So many questions and so few answers. Having dealt with far too many families in situations like this, I have learned that I do not have the wisdom to give answers.
But that does not stop our churches from looking to their leaders for guidance, and I do think I know where there is an answer. God speaks into our lives through a story in the Bible. It is the story of when King David and Bathsheba lost their infant child. David fasted, prayed, and pleaded with God to heal his sick child. Probably begging God not to hold his sin of adultery against the child. But the baby died. So David got up, cleaned up, and ate. He went on with life. When asked how that was possible, he said that the baby was not coming back to him…but that he could go to where his child was.
So as an elder, preacher, teacher, or parent, here are three things you can answer that are certain.
You are not the only one to experience this. We live in a world where death happens and evil exists. God does not always answer our prayers the way we want. I do not know why because I am not God. And that is a good thing because there has to be someone bigger and stronger than me, than any of us, in control. So God’s people chose to believe in spite of the pain.
Life goes on. You may want it to stop. You may even wish that it would, but it will not. So those of us in God’s family keep on living. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time…because we believe.
This is not the end. Christians know that we will see our children again. Death does not win. It is only final for the short time we are on this earth. It is not final forever.
So if you have wondered where answers are when there seem to be no answers…listen to God. As leaders among God’s family, we must speak God's words into shattered lives. Not our words, but his truth.
The world and Satan will give answers to their questions and they will be wrong. God equips us to shepherd among his people. They do not need us to say there are no answers. They do not even expect us to have all the answers. But they have a right to expect us to know where the answers are.