Tag Archives: answers

In a World Full of Questions, a Few Answers Matter Most

 

It is no proof of superior intelligence, but even as a young man I was theoretically sure that I would not always be a young man.

As I (rarely) contemplated middle or old age, though they seemed light years away, I figured that a major consolation of being old and crotchety, say, 45, would be that by then I would probably have found answers to a great many of life’s most vexing questions.

I’m an incredibly vibrant 60 years old now. Since I can’t imagine much worse than living to be 120, I’ll admit that 60 may, at the very least, bump the outer range of middle age.

The bad news (which is not really bad since it means I’m still seeking and inquisitive) is that I have more questions than ever. The good news is that the older I get, the more I realize how few of those questions really matter much. In fact, I’d say that life’s biggest questions could be numbered without getting much past the fingers of one hand. (I can probably do with five, if you would later let me add a related question or two beneath a couple of these.)

Does God exist?

What kind of God is he?

Has he revealed himself to mankind and how?

Is he absolutely good, absolutely powerful, and absolutely loving?

And, if the answer to that last one is yes, then why does God allow pain and suffering?

These are questions of belief. That does not at all mean they can’t be approached rationally; it does mean we will always, even when we’ve seriously and diligently sought their answers, still have to say, “I believe that . . .”

And, it seems to me, even after we’ve come to confident peace about the first four, and even the fifth, we will repeatedly face situations in our own lives and the lives of others that bring us back pretty regularly, and sometimes poignantly, to that last one.

Two words are “the answer.” Free will. Of this, I am sure.

And two more points here, one of which I know, and one of which I believe. 1) “Knowing” the philosophical answer to the “problem of pain,” does not take away pain. Agonizing pain is still agonizing. 2) With all of my heart, I believe that our deepest pain hurts our Father even more than it hurts us.

In The Cross of Christ, John R. W. Stott asks, “In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?”

He writes, “I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, . . . detached from the agonies of the world.”

But he continues, “Each time after a while I have had to turn away . . . to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, . . . plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us.”

God suffers to one day end all suffering.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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A Few Real Answers Trump a Boatload of Questions

sherlockholmes

The Lord has blessed me with some sons I’m very proud of, and I can tell you some stories from their growing up years that still brings joy to a father’s heart. This is not one of those.

It was a line-up. No, the police were not involved, but I would used a lie detector machine if I’d had access to one.

All four sons had been summoned and were standing “front and center” at attention in what was then a bathroom. I was conducting the investigation and hoping for a confession. I don’t remember if I’d already grilled them one at a time to see if one would crack, but we were past that point by this time.

Exhibit A in my case was a long narrow bare strip on the wall that had once been covered with wallpaper. I hate working with wallpaper, and I hope never again to hang any, but I had painstakingly papered the walls in that bathroom.

Some miscreant—yea, verily, one of my own offspring, I was sure, contemplating life while perched on the porcelain, had found a loose corner of wallpaper and pulled the rip cord, leaving an inch-wide bare streak marring my once-pretty-nearly-perfect wall.

I made a speech to the suspects, threatened, cajoled, considered mild torture, and tried every parenting trick I knew. I even contemplated spanking each one of them, using the punish “them all, God will know his own” approach adopted by crusaders in the 1209 massacre at Béziers, France. After all, I was not even then so naive as to adopt the modern “progressive” and witless notion that humans left to themselves just get better and better. No, humans are inherently sinful and in need of redemption. And I was pretty sure that each of the guys in that line-up already had committed enough unpunished crimes that punishing them all for this one would hardly be as unjust as it would seem. But I’m soft. I didn’t do it.

I never got a confession, and I must admit, I still don’t know the truth; even the guilty party has probably long since forgotten his guilt. The crime is unsolved, and I long ago made peace with the fact that it will remain unsolved.

We do well to approach life with some perspective. We can live with some small unsolved “who-done-its.” Some minor mysteries don’t matter all that much. Some riddles aren’t worth spending much effort to answer. About 90% of the “religious issues” folks have fussed about are a waste of breath and, if the disunity involved wasn’t such a slap in the face of God and a matter for tears, would be more deserving of a belly laugh than an inquisition.

It seems to me that even a few real answers to real questions trump a boatload of lesser questions. And they all boil down to these: Does God exist? Is God completely good? Is God completely loving? I believe we have good reason to answer Yes to all three. With that verdict, those truths, those answers, and faith in the One in whom is focused all the Father’s goodness and love, I’m at peace.

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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