In the Absence of Answers

by Greg Quinn

March 6th, 2023

Things happen in this world we do not understand. Try as we might as humans, we just don't get it.

This morning we received news that this young man we know woke up to his dead baby beside him. The child had aspirated during the night while he was sleeping. He put the baby beside him in the bed to protect it. Yet when he woke this morning the baby was dead. We grieve with him. But we have no answers as to "why" this had to happen.

Things happen we just don't understand.

A neighbor has a husband battling cancer. Four years ago, he was diagnosed as cancer free. Now it's back with a vengeance. The wife is not only dealing with "why" the cancer is back, but what she will do if her husband doesn't make it and she is alone.

Things happen we simply do not understand.

Two years ago this week was my Mom's birthday. Two years ago last October, we lost my Mom. She was recovering from a stroke in the nursing home. But she was doing good. She was there only for therapy to get her off the feeding tube. We had hired a lady to stay with Mom full time. We had fixed up her room right next to Mom's. Us boys and daughters-in-law had helped Mom for the several years prior to overcome some of the challenges of the stroke. Mom was doing well. She was looking forward to coming home. Then a few days from coming home, one of the nurses who worked at both the Nursing Home and the local Hospital had contracted Covid19 in the Hospital and brought it to the Nursing Home. Some 19 of the Nursing Home patients got sick from Covid. Five of them died within a few days. Mom was one of them. Our family was devasted. Why did this have to happen?

Three months before Mom died, we lost our brother Jeff. He was doing well from his amputation. Then the stump got infected, the infection swept his body, and he died. Why?

Things happen we don't understand.

Wars around the world leave people dead and without family. Famines cause deaths of countless children, their lives taken before they have the ability to contribute to society. Homelessness is everywhere. People losing jobs. High inflation. Not enough money to keep up. Sickness. Disease. Elderly having to choose between expensive medicine and paying the heating bill because their Social Security check isn't enough. Drunk driver kills innocent family in a car wreck. Sick teenager with a gun opens fire in a school. Loss of loved ones. Loss of health. Loss of reason to live. Depression. Anxiety. And we do not understand.

We live in a broken world. God created a perfect world, then Man sinned, and this sin caused sickness and pain and heartaches and all sorts of things to enter. Satan, the devil, goes about "like a lion, seeking whom he may devour". Because of man's sin and rebellion against God, all manners of bad things entered a perfect world. And this world seems to get worse all the time. And we see bad things all around us. Why does this have to happen? 

Things happen we don't understand. And try as we might, we do not have the answers.

In the absence of answers, what do we do?

The Bible is God's plan for mankind. Answers to most of life's questions lie hidden in the pages of the Bible. But what about the other answers that we cannot specifically find? What about why did my baby have to die? What about why am I going to be left alone? What about why am I going through what I am going through? God has the answers. But sometimes He doesn't tell us the answer right off. So in the absence of answers, what do we do?

In Acts Chapter 12 in the Bible, we see an exchange that to the natural mind is unexplainable. 

Acts 12: 1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. Please take note. This is the same Peter who denied Jesus 3 times. This is the same Peter who was the bigmouth of the disciples of Jesus. The same Peter who always asked "why". The same Peter who cut off the ear that Jesus had to stick back on. The same Peter who had the faith to walk out of the boat but not enough faith to walk on the water. The same Peter to whom Jesus said, "get thee behind me Satan" when Peter argued with Jesus as to why Jesus had to die. The same Peter who didn't want Jesus to wash his feet. The same Peter who gave up after Jesus died and went back to fishing. Yet, after the feast of Pentecost after Jesus had died and arose and ascended into Heaven, witnessed by Peter I might add, this same Peter stood before thousands and proclaimed the gospel of Jesus, and over 3000 were saved at once, beginning the Church. 

Peter was the disciple who was always asking "why".

Fast forward. Peter was in prison for preaching the gospel of Jesus. He had witnessed one of the other disciples, James, get beheaded for doing the same thing. He was now in prison about to suffer the same thing as James at the bequest of King Herod, one of the most powerful leaders on earth in that day. And recorded as one of the most evil leaders. Now we find Peter chained between two soldiers, in prison, with the door guarded. Four quaternions of soldiers were discharged to keep Peter in prison until Herod brought him out for a public execution. A quaternion is a guard of four soldiers each, normally two are attached to the prisoner and two are kept guard outside the cell. Herod had appointed four of these, or 16 guards, to keep Peter locked up. "Prayer without ceasing" was being made by the Church on Peter's behalf. So here we have Peter sleeping between two soldiers, chained between them, with the other soldiers guarding the door and gates. 

God sent an Angel to Peter. The Angel struck Peter on the side to wake him and then told Peter to "get up". So Peter got up. Then the chains fell off. Normally, Peter would have asked "why?" or "what's happening?", but he did not. He got up.

Then the Angel said, "Gird yourself and put on your sandals". Normally, Peter would have asked "why?" but he did not. He put on his sandals. Then the Angel said, "Put on your clothes, and follow me". Normally, Peter would have asked "why?" and "where are we going?". But he did not. He followed the Angel of the Lord. 

Peter followed the Angel without knowing what was happening, why it was happening, how could it happen. He followed the Angel through the prison, past all the guards, right out of the gate that just opened on its own accord to them. Peter was free. The Angel was gone.

Did Peter get the answers to the questions that obviously were going on in his mind? No. He had no answers. The Angel didn't explain anything. The Angel didn't say why Peter should get up and risk waking the soldiers guarding him. The Angel didn't say how the shackles just fell off Peter. The Angel didn't give an answer to Peter as to why he needed to get clothed within his cell. The Angel didn't tell Peter where they were going. The Angel told Peter to follow him, and Peter did. To freedom. To safety. To life. 

Peter obeyed and walked free of prison to safety. Peter trusted and obtained freedom. Peter still didn't understand, but he followed the Angel anyway. Peter, in the absence of answers, simply obeyed and trusted God.

So can we.

In the absence of answers, we trust God.

We have faith. We remain obedient to His Word. We trust in the God that created us and that loves us has a great plan for our lives and everything we go through, good or bad, is part of this plan. We may not see it, but God does. Maybe one day we will understand. But maybe not. But in the absence of answers, we simply trust God.

God loves us so much that he sent his Son Jesus to die in our place (John 3:16) so that we might live forever. 

Jesus said He came to give abundant life. Jesus will provide all our needs.

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

The Bible is full of scriptures confirming the love God has for us all. Confirming that God loves us so much that Jesus died in our place. Confirming that we have a home being prepared for us in Heaven. Confirming that we will live forever. Confirming that God heals, God forgives sin, God helps us daily, God gives us freedom, God sustains us, God helps us in any challenge we may face in life. Even when we don't understand. Even when we don't have the answers. 

Even in the absence of answers, God is with us. Even in the absence of answers, God loves us. Even in the absence of answers, God hears our prayers. Even in the absence of answers, God wants the best for us.

In the absence of answers, what do we do? When we cry and pray and things just don't seem to go our way, what do we do? When we don't understand the why, what do we do? We trust God and His love.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

In the absence of answers, we trust God, we remain obedient, we become confident in His love. No one says it is easy. It overshadows our human mind to discover the "why" or "how" or "what for". Yet God loves us so much that He deserves our trust and obedience, even when we don't understand.

In the absence of answers, we trust God.

May God richly bless you and keep you through all of life's challenges. Even those you don't understand.

Greg Quinn