An old Norwegian lady approached me one morning as I sat waiting for my turn to be attended to at Norwegian Teacher Academy's (Norsk Læreakademi) reception. A friend had asked me to go and inquire about masters programme for her.
The old lady was definitely not one of the students, neither was she after joining the institution. She must have gone there to meet someone. She was different from an average Norwegian. Majority of Norwegians are reserved, especially for strangers. She asked me series of questions—she was such a nice old lady.
After talking for a while, she asked me things that were personal but I didn’t see any reason not to answer her. She asked me my age and I told her—I was 31. She asked me about the number of siblings I had in my family. I told her that we are two and I was the youngest. We talked again for some time before she asked another question: “And how old is your mom?”
I was prompt with the answer. “40!” I replied. If you haven’t started laughing then you have missed the point. I am not forcing you to laugh but there is something ridiculously funny in that answer. Look at it again: I am 31, I am the youngest of two and my mother is 40. This means that by the time I was born, my mother was 9 and she was having her second child. This would have found a place somewhere in the Guinness Book of Record—isn’t it?
My mother, after all didn't look that old. Maybe I stuck to what I knew of her when she left. I was six then. I couldn't go into long stories to justify why I didn't know how old my mother was.
The funny thing is that I never realised even after implying that my mother was 9 when she got her second born. The point is that I lacked concentration with the figures and never combined the two (31 and 40) and see what they were saying. And the truth was: I didn’t know how old my mother was. And I didn’t want to say I didn’t know. I thought I was giving a fair guess. At that moment, 40 years sounded so much that I never realised that it was only 9 years away from my age.
Many of us don’t know many things but we don’t want to admit it. We give ridiculous answers to questions that we would have done better to own up that we don’t know. I have listened to some debates where atheists and people in some religions try to discredit the Word of God. I once listened to a debate between one Christian defending the resurrection of Christ against a Muslim rebutting it saying that Christ wasn’t even crucified in the first place. I also listened to one time believer turned atheist. The answers these critics of Christ gave were as ridiculous as me saying that I was 31 and my mother 40. They are like most of the internet search engines which will give you results (read answers) for any search you make regardless of how irrelevant the answers are.
So much for digressing! There are many things that I don’t know—and my case is not unique. What I learnt is that if you asked me a question about what I don’t know, I will tell you I don’t know even if by so doing I would be embarrassed. Meanwhile, I will tell you what I know. The story of the blind Bartimeus is typical in this case. He was asked so many questions some of which he didn’t have the answers for. Though he didn’t have the answer to something that was real, it never took away the reality—the fact that he received his sight (see John 9).
If the good old lady could ask me the question once again: “How old is your mother?”, this is what I would answer, “I don’t know how old she is”. This answer will not take away the FACT that I have a mother. I may not know everything about my mother, or father for that matter, but that doesn’t eliminate the fact that I was brought to this world by a mother and a father. I may not understand everything about Christ but that doesn’t eliminate Him as my Saviour.
Having said that, I want to confess that I don’t know why God allowed some “conflicts” or “contradictions” in His Word, especially after learning that God’s Word was inspired by His Spirit. I don’t even know why God allowed Satan to exist and do the damage he is doing; What I know is that most, if not all, of the so called contradictions are not significant. That is to say, they cannot erase Jesus the Saviour of the world out of the picture.
It looks to me that the inherence of the consciousness and conscience in man about His existence, God didn’t bother to iron out “insignificant” “distractions” in the Bible. If anything, God allowed both “negative” and “positive” to coexist. For example, the Bible says: “I have put before you life and death, blessings and curses, choose—life!!” (Deut. 30:19). This means, one can go into the Bible and meet death, yes death; one can go to the Bible and meet curses, etc. So if one desires death or curses one can go ahead and choose them—yes, in the Bible—instead of choosing life. This is what it is all about—choose ye!!
Do you struggle with questions? Do you speculate answers? You are not alone. The author has asked these tough questions, you may wish to see what he came up with in When God Did Not Keep His Word
And thats the whole point - choice. He doesn't force salvation onto us we have a choice to accept or reject - what could be fairer. I have also struggled with those questions as well Daniel that you mentioned and I find comfort in reading Job. And even there the message of choice I see. Job didn't know why he was suffering but we as the 'audience' watching the scene as it unfolds knows that all this suffering is caused by satan. We know from the situations which unfolds even in the first few chapters that this was a spiritual warfare. Satan requested God's permission to test Job but regardless of what came Job's way he chose to remain faithful and was careful not to do anything evil. I'm enjoying reading Job at the moment hope you find some comfort in going over it again.
Stay blessed and in His favour.