“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer.”
-Douglas Adams, author (11 Mar 1952-2001)
Last night I was watching American Idol. Two of the contestants sang a song and afterwards one of the judges asked them if they knew what the lyrics of the song meant. They two looks at each other and shook their heads. Neither of them had taken the time to read and try to understand the emotion (if there was any) behind the song. Of course they were then asked, “Then why’d you sing it?”
That dialog was with me with this morning as I got out of bed. When I did get out of bed I got to work and sort of put that little scene out of my mind.
Then the quote above by Adams appeared in my inbox and it demanded attention.
So, I had this idea to look to see how many times “because” or “I don’t know” or “understanding” appear in the NIV. According to BibleGateway.com “because” appears in the NIV 1586 times. I think my all-time favorite use of because comes in Genesis 5:24, but I digress:
“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
The phrase “I don’t know” appears 20 times in the NIV. “Understanding” appears 110 times.
Okay, so now what? It’s all about our answers, not really the questions we are asked.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
– 1 Peter 3:15-17
I think God wanted me to hear those words this morning from 1 Peter, “Always be prepared to give an answer”. Those words are the ones that came to me after these moments of contemplation and reflection. On a deep and spiritual level the “tell me why” is about my salvation and being able to share with others my reason for hope. Yet that preparation should permeate all my actions.
“Why did you take that photo?”
“Why did you go there?”
“Why did you say (or write) those words?”
“Why did you read that book?”
“Why did you make that decision?”
“Why are you in pain?”
“Tell me why?”
Sometimes (okay, probably many times) I don’t know the why. Or at least I can’t put the why into words. Sometimes it’s like I’m on auto-pilot or auto-response and just “do” withing being able to articulate the why. There isn’t always an answer.
But there is hope. There is always hope –
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
– Romans 5:3-5
This morning I leave you with these words and inspiration:
“One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
– John 9:25