I don’t know when it happened but one day I began associating faith with answers—strong faith = strong answers. I never would have admitted it but when I prayed and didn’t get my answers, I was plagued by fear, doubt, and anxiety.
Plain and simple—I was addicted to answers. I went into “withdrawal” when I didn’t have them and only after my “answer fix” did I feel any better. As a young Christian, I was taught Jesus is the answer to all my problems and that God always answers prayers. So, it was no wonder that in my mind, faith in Jesus was inseparable from answers.
While most of us would agree that faith is more than answers, our behavior isn’t always consistent with such an admission. I see it most clearly in how so few Christians seem reluctant to ask difficult faith questions when confronted with painfully confusing realities. I’m talking about theodicy questions that don’t have neat and tidy answers. How about these for starters?
- Prolonged Sickness: If God can heal, why doesn’t he now?
- Random Catastrophes: If God is in control, why do natural catastrophes kill thousands of people every year?
- Suffering of the Innocent: If God is good, why doesn’t he prevent the suffering of innocent children?
- Global Injustice: If God is just, why do violent, selfish, and hateful people prosper at the expense of others?
I’m not saying that Christians don’t ask these questions but that few seem willing to critically engage them beyond various forms of superficial proof texting. Such questions affect our emotions and behaviors in that we often feel and act anxious and uncertain when we can’t bolster our faith with clear cut answers.
Why? I think we often assume that great faith is confident and, therefore, shouldn’t have such questions. We feel secure when we have answers; so we find the best ones we can and protect them at all cost… even if they are inconsistent or incomplete. Why? It is hard to live within the tension of certainty and uncertainty… but we must if our faith is to be authentic… for God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8).
Please understand… I’m not pointing fingers… I still struggle with this addiction myself. At the root of it I wonder if a more fundamental unspoken assumption has laid claim in our minds… and it’s so subtle, we haven’t even challenged it. Have we moved beyond just wanting a faith that is air-tight with answers to assuming sound answers are necessary for healthy faith?
So yes, “Jesus is the answer” but he is more because he actually redefines our understanding of what it means to believe. And yes, God does answer prayer… but sometimes our focus on “answers” prevents us from seeing the sufficiency of his truth already addressing our questions. Next week we will look at how our culture reinforces such an addiction mindset and how our recognition of it is critical to authentic faith.
What Do You Think?
If healthy faith does not require sound answers then on what basis does a person believe? How can one be assured of anything without answers or evidence?