Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Simple Three Word Answers for Difficult (not Stupid) Questions

"Like apples of gold in settings of silver, so is a word skillfully spoken." Prov. 25:11.

Growing up in the Stone Age, one of my favorite reads was Mad Magazine (What, Me Worry?). Initially banned in our home until my father read it and realized it wouldn't turn our brains to mush, Mad came out of the closet and onto the coffee table.

A favorite feature was, Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions. Although the Mad I grew up with has changed, this portion still lives on today...in Christian circles! Too often serious, difficult questions are deemed stupid and are dismissed with a zinger, which is really no answer at all.

It's true that believers have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), but our thoughts and words sometimes are so un-Jesus like that silence would be a wiser response, and say so much more. The mind of Christ is accessed by knowing Him through experience and not just intellectually. Even those actively pursing a deep, intimate relationship with Him can find themselves at a loss for words when posed with hard questions.

Here are a few simple three word phrases that can help when faced with the un-answerable.

1. "I don't know." Congratulations! You have permission to not be God's Official Informed Source about everything. Don't feel compelled to manufacture answers to things you don't know about. Don't worry about disappointing someone. It's better to admit your lack of knowledge than to try to bluff your way through in order to save face. They may not like your response, but will appreciate your honesty and unwillingness to try to con them.

2. "I don't understand." Why are some folks healed and others aren't? Why do wickedness, lawlessness and injustice exist and seemingly go unpunished? Why do my beloved Philadelphia Eagles continually implode and self-destruct? Some situations defy logic and reason. We don't have be able to explain everything.

3. "I don't care." Unlike a snappy Mad Magazine retort or the more recent vintage, "Whatever!" this confession relays the total release of and contentment with things you can't explain. Taking a position that refuses to dwell on the inexplicable frees the mind from endless machinations and turmoil. Your stomach will thank you for this too.

4. "And it's ok." This wraps up 1 through 3 in a neat, tidy package. Don't beat yourself up when faced with dilemmas that have no rhyme or reason. Some things, like my Eagles, will never be understood this side of eternity..."And it's ok."

Scripture exhorts us to always be ready to give a testimony to the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15). We're also told not to wrack our brains for those perfect Snappy Answers to Difficult (not Stupid) Questions. Holy Spirit is never put on the spot. He will give us the right answer every time when necessary (Luke 12:11-12). Sometimes it just might be one of these little phrases.

How about you? How does it feel to admit there are things you neither know nor understand? How do you think others will react to an honest admission of your ignorance in these matters? How can your relationship with God be enhanced sans the pressure to explain His actions or lack thereof? How will your life improve by not having to be a 'know-it-all'?


  1. Very practical and very good piece! We THINK we have to have an exact answer for EVERY scenario; how liberating to realize, we DON'T have to! Incidentally, I was a huge Mad Magazine reader as a teenager. (Believe it or not, it's actually still published. I noticed a current issue in a public library recently.)

  2. "How will your life improve by not having to be a 'know-it-all'?" I find it freeing to not know all the answers. I even find it freeing o find out I am wrong about something I thought I knew. (But I found out it didn't.)