Preachers are notorious for saying “God will answer your question if you continue praying about it.” I don’t completely agree with this statement. While God does answer prayer, there are things that humans cannot fully understand because we are finite beings. He doesn’t always answer questions like “Why did my best friend die from cancer?” or “Why did a shooter kill several innocent children at a school?” or “Why did God allow Hitler to massacre several Jews?” The list goes on, but you get the idea.
Although God doesn’t always fully answer our question, he may provide a satisfactory answer or some insight. God didn’t answer Job’s questions about his suffering, yet Job was satisfied. Why? Job knew that no man could prevent God’s plan from unfolding and that, as a human, he couldn’t fully understand the way God works.
The great and powerful God
Job asked God questions like “Why was I born?,” “Will a man live again if he dies?,” and “Can a man be just with God?” The Lord never answered these outright, but he responded to Job’s inquiries with more questions––about 77 of them.
Reading his responses to Job reminds me that our God is the Almighty God and, as Third Day sings,”Lord of all creation, of water earth and sky.” He rules over literally everything––not just the earth, but also the universe. Realizing this humbles me when God doesn’t answer my questions. After all, what kind of God would we believe in if he answered all our questions? That would go against his sovereignty. In addition, not knowing the solution to all our problems helps us trust in God when times get tough and helps us mature as disciples of Christ because we learn to listen for his voice instead of our own.
Lessons learned from school
When I have trouble with this idea, I think back to high school, when my teachers wouldn’t answer my questions. Although I received A’s in every other course, math was a very difficult subject for me and I hardly passed any course with a B minus. I’d ask my Algebra 2 teacher for help on specific problems––and he’d guide me in the right direction–– but then he told me, “You have all the tools you need to solve the problem. I can only help you, but I need you to solve the problem yourself so you learn how to find the answers yourself.”
Naturally, I was very frustrated. It took me an average of 10 minutes per problem. Multiply that by about 15 problems per night, in addition to other classes. Math homework alone took me about two hours a night. I just wanted to get it over with already and hated how much time things took. But I persisted, and the results were amazing. Even though it took forever, I eventually caught up with my classmates and figured out how to find the answers myself, without help from my teacher.
In the same way, we may become frustrated when God guides us in a specific direction, yet doesn’t give us a straight answer. But we’ll never mature as Christians or learn to solve problems ourselves if everything’s smooth sailing. The best sailors learn how to navigate difficult storms and adjust to varying weather. We must trust God in all seasons, learn how find the answers to our questions using the tools he’s given us, and keep pressing on amid confusion.
Mark 11:24: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.