Tuesday, June 27, 2006

When There Are No Answers

A friend sent me this article, and although lengthy, it is so worth the read.... it's about searching for answers from God and not finding any... kind of how we feel about finding the money to adopt Sam..... it really speaks to my heart. Love you, K

When There Are No Answers (Broadcast July 3, 2004 © 2004)

One of the first words we learn is "Why.” If there's a child under five in your home right now, you probably hear that word many times each day. It seems from the very beginning we want explanations and answers. But what do we do when there are no answers?

I tell you quite frankly that there are many times I can't find an answer for things that happen to me and to others. I bombard Heaven with my "Whys?" but the heavens are silent. How about you? Is that where you are? You can't find the answers you so desperately need?
I'm sure many of you are in the midst of some situation for which you can find no answers. God is silent. The heavens are like stone. You've begged for explanations, but none have come. What do we do when there are no answers?

Mary and Martha faced that dilemma when Lazarus died. You know the story. They sent for Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. They were confident that Jesus could heal him and prevent his death, and that He would do so, for they knew how Jesus loved Lazarus and them.
They sent out their cry for help, but we read in John 11 that "...when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days." He loved them but He didn't come to their rescue. Why? I can see Martha and Mary waiting by the side of their sick brother, expecting Jesus to walk through the door any minute. They knew He could have been there shortly, but as hour by hour passed, Jesus didn't show up. And Lazarus got worse and worse, and they watched him die.

Do you think they wondered if Jesus really loved them during that time? Don't you imagine they must have felt abandoned and forsaken by Jesus, to realize that He could have come and healed their brother, but He chose not to? Have you felt that way? I think we all go through similar reactions when there are no answers.
When Jesus finally arrived, it was too late; Lazarus was already dead. Martha was upset with Jesus, and we read in John 11 that she said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." She asked him for an answer to her question: Why didn't you come, Lord?
I find Jesus' words to her at this time very interesting. He did not defend His actions; He did not say, "Martha, let me explain to you exactly what I did and why." No, when Martha was looking for answers to her unanswered questions, Jesus took her back to basics.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" He confronted Martha with the reality of who He was, and caused her to change her thinking.
You see, if Martha believed that Jesus was the resurrection and the life and that because Lazarus had believed in Him, Lazarus would live forever, then this temporary separation would look very differently to Martha. Jesus wanted her to think beyond the immediate and look at the eternal. He wanted her to think about who He was and what kind of power He had. And she confessed out loud, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

When you don't have answers, stop and ask a different question: Who do you believe Jesus is? Do you believe that He is the resurrection and the life? If so, confess out loud exactly what you believe about the person of Jesus. It's important that you say it out loud, I think, so you can hear your own confession of faith.

We may never know some of the answers we're looking for this side of heaven, but we can always confidently know the answer to the question: Who do you think Jesus is? By concentrating your thoughts on who He is, you will have the peace and strength you need for those unanswered questions. If that was the question Jesus asked Martha when she wanted answers, then surely it is the starting place for us today when we want answers.
We all remember the end of this story; Jesus did meet their need by performing an incredible miracle and raising Lazarus from the dead. In this case, Mary and Martha finally got answers, as they saw their brother come forth after four days in that tomb. And that miracle was the talk of the town for days and weeks, as you can imagine. As a matter of fact, many people believed on Jesus when they saw and heard about Lazarus.
So, eventually Martha and Mary could say to each other, "When it looked as though Jesus had forsaken us, He really was working on our behalf to do something even greater than we could imagine."

Sometimes it works out like that. We go through the no-answer period, the circumstances which make no sense to us whatsoever, but at a later date, in God's time, we are able to see what God's good purpose was.

Maybe some of you are now in that tough place where Mary and Martha were initially. You're wondering why Jesus hasn't come to you; you're feeling unloved and neglected by Him. Please do take courage and remember that often we misunderstand God's timetable. It may be that you will soon see the deliverance of God and your eyes will be opened to understand the whys.
But what about those of you who don't get those answers? Your Lazarus never comes out of the tomb. You're left to face those unanswered questions for the rest of your life.

You know, I believe for Christians who have truly placed their faith in Jesus, who know His power, who believe with all their hearts that He can rescue them from any circumstance, it is extremely difficult to face the fact that God is not going to answer your questions, and you'll never know why certain things happen. After all, we're supposed to have answers, aren't we? We've always told people that Jesus is the answer, Jesus can meet all their needs. Therefore, those unanswered questions can undermine our faith and cause us to doubt the God we serve.
Well, I'm certainly not going to tell you that I have answers to your unanswered questions. I don't, and the older I get the more I know there are times when I throw up my hands and say, "I don't understand it."

I want to say to you who have unanswered questions that anger and frustration are normal. God is not going to condemn you for asking the questions, for feeling anger at the unjust circumstances. He even understands that you're likely to go through a period of being angry at Him. God is big enough to handle our anger.

But how do we deal with it? Well, I think the Psalms are of great help to us here, for frequently both David and Asaph expressed their frustration at the lack of answers.
In Psalm 44 David says to the Lord, "But now you have rejected and humbled us...You have made us a reproach to our neighbors...You have made us a byword among the nations;...All this has happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant....Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? ... Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?"
That's an angry man, expressing it openly to God. And at that moment, with no answers to his questions, his anger was vented toward God.

Now, I don't want to imply that I think we should yell and scream at God when we please. But I do want to say to those of you who are living with those difficult, unanswered questions that it's okay for you to tell God exactly how you feel about them. Please tell God; He knows your feelings and thoughts anyway, and if you don't ventilate those thoughts, or you try to deny or ignore them, they will turn into bitterness and depression.

Who better to tell than God? He understands you completely, and no one will be fairer or gentler to you than He will be. He didn't chide Martha for her questions. He didn't zap David and Asaph for voicing their anger. And isn't it interesting that all of that is recorded in Scripture for us to read. That's not an accident, you know; it's there to show us how to deal with unanswered questions. So, if the questions and the anger are smouldering inside of you, get alone with God and voice them to Him, out loud.

I notice that every time David or Asaph voiced their frustration about the unanswered questions, soon they were led back to that basic trust in God which was the cornerstone of their lives. One of David's frequent phrases was "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Ps. 43:5).
You notice that David talked to himself. It's as though he sat himself down in a chair and said, "Okay, David, let's have a talk. Why are you questioning God? Don't you know he's the One who can deliver you?"

Asaph went through his rage at God in Psalm 77, saying "Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show His favor again? Has His unfailing love vanished forever? Has God forgotten to be merciful?" Then after saying those words of doubt and anger, and I think hearing in his own ears how foolish they were, Asaph said, "Then I thought, 'To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.' I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds."
Asaph got the foolish, angry words out of his mouth, expressing to his understanding and patient God all his anger and frustration. And then he changed his thinking and started remembering all that God had done. Ah, there's our answer, friends. Renewing our minds with correct thinking about who God is and what He has done for us. Just as Martha needed to go back to basics about Jesus, just as David and Asaph needed to get back to who Jehovah God is and what He had done, so we must as well.

When the questions have no answers, we have to abandon them and be willing to live with the unanswered questions. But we don't have to live in despair or anger; the same God who for whatever reason does not answer our questions is the God who will bring us comfort and strength to face them. I often think of the question Jesus asked His disciples when many of His followers were forsaking Him. He said to the Twelve, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Simon Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:67-68).

Friends, where else will you go with your unanswered questions? If there are no answers from God, then trust Him to see you through. There's a song which I like a great deal. It says,
God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind; So when you don’t understand, When you can’t see His plan, When you can’t trace His hand, Trust His heart.

And that's what I would leave you with. When you can't see why He's doing what he's doing, you can still trust His goodness and His love for you. When you can't trace His hand, trust His heart.

Mary’s book, Soaring on High, is a book of encouragement and inspiration to help when life is puzzling.You can order by calling 1-800-292-1218 or online at www.christianworkingwoman.org

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