It’s ok not to understand…

20th February 2024

There are many big questions in life. Young children are endlessly curious and often ask questions which are difficult to answer. “Where does the wind come from?” “Why is the sky blue?” “How many ants are there in the world?” And the one that most parents have to grapple with at some stage; “Where do babies come from?” Of course, we know most of the answers, or if we don’t we can probably find out. It may not, however, be an answer that a child can fully understand.

Despite having been a Christian since childhood, I find that there’s still much about my faith that I don’t understand, and I know I’m not the only one. ‘Why is there so much suffering in the world?’ ‘Why aren’t my prayers answered?’ The prophet Jeremiah asked, ‘Why does the way of the wicked prosper?’ And Jesus himself cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ If he was God on earth, why did he ask that? Traditionally there have been ready answers to these and other questions that I wrestle with and as a young Christian I pretty much learned them all. They can make perfect sense, but if I’m completely honest, I still don’t really fully understand and I don’t think that I will in this life. One of the things I appreciate about the ‘Open book, Open mind’ group, is that we can ask questions without fear of judgement and we have discovered through our discussions that there are many valid opinions, but also sometimes no clear answer to the big questions of life. And I’ve come to realise that I’m not the only person who doesn’t have all the answers.

I wonder how much Jesus questioned his mission during his 40 days in the wilderness? It must have been incredibly daunting preparing for what was ahead and we know from the gospels of Matthew and Luke that he was tempted to give in. The 40 days of Lent remember Jesus’s time in the wilderness and are traditionally a season of contemplation, self-examination and deprivation, but this is juxtaposed with the many signs of glorious new life all around us in the long awaited spells of sunshine; the spring flowers, the trees coming into leaf and the cheering bird song. Just as we trust throughout the winter that spring will come again, and a small child trusts an adult to know all the answers, Jesus must have trusted in God to see him through the difficult years ahead. And I think the answer to my lack of understanding is also to trust. It’s not blind trust – I have plenty of evidence that God is here walking beside me and will see me through whatever is to come.

But faith is about believing in what we can’t see and trusting that God does have the answers even if we can’t understand them.

Debbie Emmott-Dart
Ministry Team member & St Mary’s Music Minister