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Faith Q&A Series Introduction

Does God exist? Is the Bible true? Is the Bible reliable? Why does the Bible sometimes seem to contradict itself? Why does God answer some prayers and not others? Why does evil exist? Where did evil come from? Did God really create the universe in six days?

If God knows all things, including the future, then how can we have free will? If we have free will, then is it possible that our decisions could surprise the all-knowing God? If it is true that God has a sovereign plan and it can’t be changed, then why bother with prayer? Why express faith at all?

Why does God heal one person and not another? Why do evil people sometimes enjoy great success in life? Why do righteous people sometimes suffer terribly? Why are so many Christians hypocrites? Why are some Christians greatly blessed while others face fierce persecution?

If God is the Sovereign Creator, then why did He set the universe in motion if He knew it would turn into such a mess?

These are faith questions.

We all have them. For some, they represent nothing more than irritants to faith. For others, they are debilitating cancers that weaken faith — and even kill it.

Which leads to other faith questions. Why do some people believe so easily while others struggle terribly? Where does faith come from? Is it the result of nurture? Is it based on family and community and experiences and traditions? Or is it the result of nature? Is it based on the hard wiring of our intelligence quotient, temperaments, and personality? Why do we see life so differently? Why do some highly respected scientists believe in God? Why do others reject even the possibility of God?

Why? WHY? WHY!!?

In this series of articles, we’re going to explore some of these faith questions. As you know, Q&A stands for questions and answers. From the start of this series, I want to be very clear about one thing: I am an expert in asking questions; I am not an expert in answering them.

Forty years ago, I was an expert in answering faith questions. I had confident answers for nearly every question people threw at me. In fact, I was so confident I would throw answers at people who weren’t even asking questions. In my spiritual immaturity, I was very zealous — and I was convinced I was right.

And then the storms of life hit. The rain came down hard. The sand of my arrogance began to shift under my feet. The more I suffered, the less I knew.

A friend once said to me, “I used to have five theories about parenting. Now I have five children and no theories.” I don’t think that quote was original to my friend, but she had five kids, so I’ll cite Debbie as the authority.

When I was 19, I had hundreds of answers. Now I’m 59, and I have hundreds of questions.

When I was 19, I was confident in myself. At 59, my only confidence is in the solid Rock grace and mercy of God.

Life has been tough. It has been filled with death and loss and the painful stabs inflicted by friends and loved ones. I have encountered seasons when I was very disappointed in God, and my faith was nearly gone.

The flood of life’s suffering has eroded away some of my sandy cockiness and arrogance. I now understand just how little I know. Maybe that’s what Paul was feeling when he wrote, For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then, we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known — I Corinthians 13:9-12.

While I now have more questions than answers, my faith is not weaker. The erosion of sand has revealed the unmovable and unchangeable Rock of God. My faith is stronger today than ever because it is in God and not in me.

And while I have grown, there is still much sand that needs to be washed away. God is going to send more suffering my way. Why? Because I know He loves me too much to let the sand remain. I now understand that the remaining Rock is all that matters. Father, if suffering is what it takes to wash away the sand, then let it rain.

I’m a bit shocked that I just wrote that little prayer.

When I was 19, I prayed for God to bless me.

How strange, at 59, to pray that He would let me suffer.

Maybe, just maybe, I am becoming less childish.

Maybe there’s less sand under my feet. If so, to God be the glory.

Over the next few months, we’re going to take on some of the big questions of faith. I invite you to go on the journey with me. Will we find answers? We might. What I pray is that the sand will be washed away, leaving behind the solid Rock upon which our faith can stand. Father, let it be so. Amen.