The website “Ask a Manager” received a letter from a reader who lied during a job interview. Responding to a technical question, the applicant should have said, “I don’t know,” but instead improvised an answer and tried to bluff through the discussion. Afterward the person was anxious about the flub and wondered what to do.
“Ask a Manager” replied: “This is not good, but you probably already know that.” The columnist pointed out that few people object when we say, “I don’t know. I’ll find out and get back to you.” But to be caught trying to make up an answer speaks to honesty, integrity, and judgment.
As Christians, there will be times when we’ll be asked a question for which we don’t have an answer. So what happens when none are forthcoming?
A Twist in the Road
Any of us who have survived a significant trial understand that answers aren’t always readily available. God has promised to work all things together for our good; but He has not promised to explain all the machinery behind that promise. We may never know all the answers. But there’s something liberating about admitting we have no answers, and we can be alright with that.
A Bend in the River
In 1961, missionaries Jim and Doreen Tootill were traveling with their children down a river toward Bangkok to attend a Christian conference. Just before midnight, the boat encountered a swift crosscurrent and capsized.
Jim, Doreen, and all three children were thrown into the raging river in the darkness. The parents sank into the water before resurfacing to grasp the side of the overturned vessel as it was carried rapidly downstream. Doreen managed to grasp the baby. The oldest son was also saved. But little Janet, nearly three, was missing. Rescuers plucked Doreen and the children from the wreckage, but Jim and the other men continued floating down the river clinging to the overturned boat.
Minutes later, a voice called out, “Here’s the foreign child—dead.” Jim tried frantically to resuscitate her, but it was too late. When he was reunited with his family, he was bearing Janet’s body in his arms. In an awful state of shock, the Tootills waited for morning. Their minds were filled with phrases beginning with If only…
But even in the darkness, the Lord was with them, providing strength and grace. “Before morning came,” Jim later wrote, “two principles had begun to register in our minds. First, this thing has happened and cannot be altered. What matters essentially now is our attitude to it; and secondly (in the face of feelings otherwise) the right thing to do will be to carry on in every way as normally as possible. Perhaps these sound rather cold, but we believe they represented God’s guidance to us at that point.”
Being able to trust God and carry on was essential to the family’s survival. The questions came and the sorrow threatened to wash them away like the treacherous river. But Jim and Doreen knew they had to carry on without answers, trusting in the One who was their Answer.
“The Lord in His sovereign purpose gathered our little one to Himself,” they later wrote in the book, When the Roof Caves In. “From the beginning He gave her to us for those two delightful years and eight months. And that evening we understood and could say gratefully, ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the Name of the Lord.’ Once this fact was grasped … a deep peace filled our hearts. The painful ‘if onlys’ were finished, and there was no question of ‘why?’, for we know that ‘As for God, His way is perfect’ and that He has the right to do as He will with His own. All might not be fully understood, but He can certainly be fully trusted…. We were called to walk by faith.”
Why would we even expect to have all the answers anyway? God is infinite, His wisdom unfathomable, His duration eternal. Our minds are finite, our understanding limited, our earthly lives brief. But Isaiah 40:28 says: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”
Instead of asking if we can trust God with the unanswerable, ask: Can God trust us with the unanswerable? We don’t have to produce every answer to every question or the reason for every heartache. Our minds aren’t always big enough to understand His unsearchable ways. Even wisest souls must sometimes confess: “I don’t know… and that’s okay.”
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information on Turning Point, go to
 Ask a Manager, http://www.askamanager.org/2011/06/i-made-up-an-answer-in-a-job-interview-what-should-i-do-now.html (accessed June 3, 2014).
Does your attention span far and wide? Perhaps it’s time to shorten our attention span and focus more on Jesus. Otherwise our thoughts and opinions may be shaped by the world instead of by the Word.
All of us are shaped and molded by someone. But there’s only one mold by which every Christian should be shaped—the mold and model of Jesus Christ. We’re to be stamped with His image and shaped by His Spirit. The apostle Paul said, “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT).
In his paraphrase of Romans 12:2, J. B. Phillips said, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within.”
Caring at Christmas
“Why are people malnourished in the richest country on Earth?” asks an article in an issue of National Geographic.1 It’s an interesting question, especially for people who probably don’t suffer from malnutrition.
According to this article, the number of people who are hungry has grown dramatically in recent years—increasing to 48 million Americans in 2012. Statistics show that in 1980, there were a few hundred emergency food programs across the country, and five years ago when the article was written, there were 50,000.Wrapped Up
Henrietta Haas was born in Vienna in 1929. When the Nazi threat drove her family to America in 1939, Henrietta studied retailing in college and later earned a master’s degree in library science. She married her sweetheart, Monroe Milstein, who launched a clothing business after World War II. Henrietta worked as a librarian in a Long Island elementary school, and she used her $75,000 in savings to help her husband purchase a former factory outlet in Burlington, New Jersey, for his clothing store.
Business boomed and Burlington Coat Factory soon opened a second location. The Milstein’s son, Lazer, agreed to run the second store on the condition it be closed on Saturday, his Sabbath. Consequently, the store reopened every Sunday morning, where hundreds of people came to shop on their day off. When the Milstein family sold Burlington Coat Factory in 2006, it was purchased for more than two billion dollars—the $75,000 investment paid great dividends!
As it happens, the Christmas season marks the beginning of winter when people are shopping for outerwear or pulling sweaters out of their closet. Some of us have sweaters, coats, dresses, or ties we wear only at Christmas. Some of them are corny, some are classy; but all of them spur on the holiday spirit.
It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of how God delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace. But have you considered why He did it? Dr. David Jeremiah offers four reasons why God delivered the young men from the fire, and what those reasons mean for us.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah