What Do You Say When You Just Don’t Have The Answers?

November 30, 2011

In my years in ministry I have seen a lot of things.  I have seen God do absolute miracles.  I have seen people that were supposed to be dead according to doctors, totally healed.  I’ve seen the most vile people that I thought were hopeless be transformed into new creations that were the opposite of their past.  I’ve had God reveal Himself to me in ways that blow my mind.  PRETTY COOL STUFF!

On the flip side, I’ve also seen some things that my Masters Degree and my “Doctor of Ministry” just didn’t explain.

There have been times when I’ve questioned God.  I’ve never questioned his existence.  I have just wondered what in the world He was doing or not doing in certain situations. As I mentioned in my last post, I have even felt wrongly that I have to look out for His reputation at times when it seems that He didn’t come through.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • Early in my ministry, I spent 3 nights sleeping at the foot of a hospital bed of a 2 year old little boy named Brandon.  His parents and I poured our hearts out constantly for his healing for those 3 days.  Our entire church was praying.  Brandon died.  God, where were you then?
  • I mentioned the miscarriages that Marla & I have experienced in my last post.  That was a hard time to work through.   Just didn’t seem “fair.”
  • I have a friend, Kyle Caddell, who has served God faithfully his whole life.  We played in the band, “U-Turn,” together, sharing Jesus in college.  Kyle later became a builder and was very generous with his money in helping people.  For the past 15 years Kyle has endured a tremendous amount of pain in his muscles and joints and the doctors don’t seem to know why or how to help.  He has now lost his home and can’t even work consistently because of the pain.  God, why is that?

Sometimes things happen that just don’t make sense to my little mind.  I could go into theological reasons as to why there is still evil in the world and possible reasons why God doesn’t always intercede, but that’s not really the intent of this post.   I can give a try at that later if some of you want me to do that.

I just wanted to say that if you know someone that is going through a time when things just don’t make sense, you don’t always have to have the answers.  What your friend needs most, even though they do want answers, is YOU.

Never is this more clear in Scripture thanthe book of Job.  In short, Job was hurting.  Though he had served God faithfully, God allowed Satan to strike him with boils all over his body. He didn’t even look like himself anymore.  He was actually scraping the boils off with broken pottery pieces.  (Job 2)

Job had 3 friends who loved him come by and they barely recognized him.  For 7 whole days, the four friends sat, cried, and were just there with job.  I believe they really ministered to his soul by their presence.  Then it all began to fall apart.  They opened their mouths.  They said some of the most ridiculous things trying to explain why things were happening to Job.  When their mouths opened, their cluelessness was discovered.

Our friends don’t always need us to have all of the answers.  What they need is our presence.  They need to know that someone representing God cares about them.   Sometimes they need to see God with skin on- that would be His representative or His Ambassador.  That means YOU!

I remember one occasion when a friend was going through a divorce.  Myself and another believer went to minister to the hurting friend.  I felt bad.  I didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t say much but just listened as my friend talked about his pain.  I was so thankful that my other friend with the answers was there.  He seemed to have a lot of words and input into the situation.

The next day, the hurting friend called to tell me that he was thankful that I WAS THERE.  Bewildered, I thought, “I didn’t have any answers.”

My friend told me, “I appreciated the way that you just sat with me, listened, and didn’t say a word.”  (He said that the other guy talked way too much.)

When we don’t have the answers for people, we always have ourselves.  Just be there when they need you.  When everyone else is running away, BE THERE.

When there just aren’t any answers, BE THERE.  Sometimes your presence says everything that needs to be said.

Have there been things in your life that you just had to trust God as you walked through it, even though you didn’t understand?

Who really helped your soul through it?

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8 Responses to “What Do You Say When You Just Don’t Have The Answers?”

  1. Leanne said

    Thanks, Eddie! Keeping one’s mouth shut is often the biggest blessing we can give a hurting friend. I remember when Paul’s friend (who played in the youth band with Paul, Brandon & you)was killed in an accident not far from the church. You came to our house and sat quietly with Paul for hours. It meant a lot to him & us.

    • eddiepoole said

      Leanne, that was another one of those hard to understand times. Thanks for mentioning it. Truth is, Paul and the other guys were there for me during that time too with their presence. I was really searching too.

  2. Paul McKee said

    Thanks Eddie for this reminder. The ministry of presence us so powerful. I learned this more than ever as a Hospice Chaplain. What a blessing just to be there with someone when there are no answers to be found. Say hello to Marks for me. I was sort to hear of your pain and loss in your miscarriage. Beth and I experienced one as well about three years ago and it is indeed a painful thing to go through. We still don’t understand why that had to happen and why we have remained unable to have another child. However, we are extremely thankful for our previous son Caleb . How blessed we truly are to have him.
    Gods’s best to you and your family.

    • eddiepoole said

      It’s great to hear from you, Paul! I really hate to hear about your miscarriage that you and Beth experienced. You guys are great parents and that has to be another one of those questions that we really may never have answers to until we get to heaven. I have a feeling that when we get there and are able to hear the answers, the answers may not even matter anymore. At least that’s the way my mind has been thinking about all of this. Tell Beth “hello” from me. God bless you guys!

  3. Phil Shirley said

    Hey Eddie and Paul and Tim: Just wanted to let you know that all of you have been there at the right time when I needed someone to just hang out with both in the good and bad times. I know I’m not always one to be there but please know that I treasure ya’lls friendships more than ya’ll will ever know. Just knowing that we are “Brothers-In-Christ” and we’ll continue to have the memory of the past, present and whatever the future holds in our relationships we can get through this thing called life together.

    Blessings to all.

    Love You Guys, and of course your families,
    Phil

    • eddiepoole said

      Phil, you’re an awesome friend. I hope that you always remember that we are “Brothers in Christ” and we do need to be there for each other and to allow each other to be there too! You’ve been a great support for me MANY TIMES just by your presence when no one else was there. I’m very thankful for you, Phil!

  4. Rooster Fletcher said

    So true, so true. The “ministry of presence” is very often the most significant ministry anyone can receive during times when life doesn’t make sense. The answers come later, and maybe not until we can ask God in person. Thank God that we have the promise that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose”.

    • eddiepoole said

      Rooster, I’m always encouraged by that verse too. It doesn’t say that “all things are good for those that love the Lord,” but it says “all things WORK TOGETHER for the good of those who love the Lord.” The rain falls on the just and the unjust. For me, it comes down to learning to trust Him, even in the rain.

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