Monday, August 10
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3
Trips to the eye doctor were a frequent part of my childhood. To this day, I’ve only met three people with eyes worse than mine. As a kid, I eventually memorized the last line I could read on the chart (“E-G-B-D-F-4”) and the constant clicking through lenses on that giant machine became a bore as I was asked over and over again to pick between the first lens or the second.
“Or two?” Click.
Repeat ad nauseam.
And what if I said, “One,” but the second choice was actually slightly better? Sometimes they seemed virtually identical, almost as though the doctor was only checking to see if I was still awake.
So, it was a shock then when a new, younger doctor clicked through the lenses and asked, “One? Two? … Or about the same?”
The floorboards of my mind opened up, and I went crashing down with them. I’d never considered a third response, that there was an option that did not assume I’d be certain of the correct answer.
I had the same feeling the first time I heard a pastor say the words “I don’t know.” I’d thought Christians – pastors, especially – were supposed to have an answer to every question.
When we look at this passage, it describes God creating what is seen out of what is unseen. While this is a principle that seems difficult to understand in modern life, for millennia, faithful followers just didn’t know. If you read beyond this passage, it describes the resounding faith of major Biblical figures who, in the midst of their journey, must have admitted more than once that they didn’t know exactly what was happening or what to expect. Instead, they chose to trust God in the midst of their confusion.
It’s a powerful thing to admit when you don’t know something. It can make you feel weak and vulnerable. But it doesn’t need to feel that way. Admitting you don’t know something can simply mean recognizing the limits of your own knowledge. Plus, putting the words “I don’t know” out there gives others a space to move into … it gives them a chance to admit that they don’t know either. From there, you figure out how to cope with that feeling, together and with God.
That’s what community in faith is about – not pretending that we’ve got all the answers, but being willing to accept that we might not, and we’ll still keep seeking, together. When non-Christian friends ask me why I still study the Bible after so many years, this is the answer I give them: I still have questions and so too do other people. When we can’t figure something out, we do our best to support each other in the confusion and stand in faith together.
God, help me admit to others and to You when I don’t know something. Maintain my faith and help me support others as we ask questions and, at times, live without knowing the answers.