“I don’t know” has become one of the most refreshing phrases to hear others say, and yet it doesn’t roll off my own tongue easily. In fact, sometimes I have to chase it down and drag it out of my mouth kicking and screaming.
I know I don’t have all the answers but I so desperately want to fix everything- to make it better. I NEED for there to be an answer…or I think that’s what I need. What they need. What you need.
At core admitting that “I don’t know” is a massive letting go of control. Letting go of my perceived control over making someone happy, my perceived ability to make someone better, our perceived control over situations that are broken.
But trusting in God takes the “I don’t know” to another level of humility because I have to concede that He DOES KNOW. It’s this letting go of my belief that I’m capable of even beginning to fathom the vast knowledge that spans souls and soil, breath and bread, Spirit and truth. And that’s scary.
But what’s perhaps even scarier is that God knows the answers and yet problems still exist. The suffering still continues. My friends’ pain isn’t getting wrapped up neatly. My own struggles aren’t dissolving. If God knows the answer and the problem persists then maybe we’re tempted to throw God out entirely and say we can’t believe in a God who knows and hasn’t fixed.
Or. OR. We chase the why. We become absolutely convinced that even if we don’t know how to SOLVE a problem we can make it better with a “why” bandaid. Why does someone’s pain exist? Is God teaching them something? Did we make a mistake? Is something amazing going to happen through the suffering? Why?
“I don’t know” is a giant inky pool that no one wants to swim in. We think answers are the life-raft to save us- but they’re not. They might actually be trapping us, handicapping us, holding us hostage.
But…God is there in the inky pool holding us somehow in the not knowing. He is a Life-raft that somehow envelops us more securely than the styrofoam answers we’re clinging to.
And He, Holder of the answers, Creator of the world, Sustainer of our cells and souls, perhaps wants us to trust in Him even more than in answers.
And just as He sits with us in our unanswered mess, walks with us and speaks identity over us, we can sit with others and extend to them the grace of not knowing. We can point them to the Answer that doesn’t always resolve our problems here-and-now, neat and clean- that Spirit that surpasses all the other answers that we think we need.
Maybe that sounds like another easy answer. But I’ve had to fight and flounder to believe it, and even now it isn’t easy. I can honestly say now that finding God’s presence in my life has been the single thing that keeps me afloat because I’ve felt Him when nothing else made sense.
But that’s where my story is.
I know for some just getting to that place of believing in God feels like too big a step, too much faith in what you can’t see. I don’t want to diminish that struggle or try to fix you with some platitude.
So I’ll leave you to ponder, to wonder, to seek. But I hope that when the search for answers wearies you and you can’t even find the whys, that you might venture trusting in surprisingly steady arms in that dark sea you find yourself in.
And for those who feel like they have to have all the answers, or that God isn’t pleased if they can’t find a verse to combat any problem…may you somehow find peace and rest in the not knowing.
Here’s the FINAL Gray Faith video/Study Guide!! (Chapter 8)
Whatever you believe has been shaped by many things. I challenge you to take away the books, the friend’s opinions that fill your head, even the things you were taught to believe as a child. When you strip away all these things, what is the bottom line of your belief- the fundamental reason you believe as you do. Sometimes this means mentally suspending what you believe momentarily to ask yourself if another way makes sense. For example, can you imagine that God doesn’t exist? Would your life be substantially changed if He didn’t? What, if any, personal experiences have you had with God that shape your belief? Even if you don’t feel like you have all the answers, imagine what living out your deepest beliefs may look like in your practical life.
Chapter 8 Study Questions:
1.What does it mean to be “comfortable being uncomfortable” when we don’t have the answers? Why is this necessary?
2. Formulas can be tools to help us grow, but how can they become negative?
3. Imagine/discuss what you believe Eden was like: a perfect relationship with God, a world before the curse. How do you see brokenness of the fall in everything humans have touched?
4. Respond to this statement: “The beauty of the world and the suffering alike tell me that we were meant for more.”
5. Have you experienced Jesus to be bigger than your circumstances? Explain.
6. Be honest with yourself/ your group, and God- what are some the “unanswered” questions in your life?
7. How can you live with questions and still actively believe in God?
Bible passages for further reading:
Romans 1:18-20 (God reveals Himself through creation); Mark 9:14-29 (Jesus heals a boy/father asks for help with unbelief); Matthew 11:1-6 (John the Baptist questions Jesus’ identity);