Dealing with tough Questions

by | Jun 8, 2010

Bullies have to be dealt with sooner or later.

Some questions are like bullies. I hate bullies. Growing up at boarding school not only did I have to deal with a lot of bullies, there was even a time in my life when, I admit to my shame, that I became one. When we create systems which pander to bullies, bullies are created and often if we live in those systems long enough we become what we once hated. We have created religious theologies which pander to tough questions, systems which, out of fear of tough questions, give away freedoms Jesus died to give us. Bullies use intimidation, bluster and an image of toughness to prey on others. To use, dominate and to steal from them. However the fact is that most bullies are craven, fearful and the image of strength that they project hides a dirty secret – that they are powerless in themselves and in fact much of their power is drawn from the fear of those they victimize. Tough questions are like that.

I once fought a bully, it was one of the scariest things I have ever done. The guy was tough. He was bigger, stronger and faster than I. The confrontation started in a flurry of blows to my head and quickly established that if I was to fight him on his terms it was likely that I was going to get seriously hurt. I never landed one punch on him but at the end it was the bully who left in tears. After he threw the first few blows the guy stopped when he realised that I was not fighting back but I wasn’t running either. He was not quite sure what to do. He needed me to fight or to run away, the fact that I wasn’t doing either baffled him. So he threatened me.

He said; “Desmond, if you don’t get out of my face in 5 seconds, I swear to God I will F*** you up!”

As I looked at him, I knew it was true, I didn’t have a hope in hell of winning a fight with him and I also knew that if he chose to he could reduce me to a bloody mess. I also knew I could not run without surrendering my self-respect and so I realised that I was about to get slaughtered. I wish I could tell you that I was not afraid, but that is not true, I was terrified. As always happens at boarding school as soon as the confrontation had begun the cry “Fight, Fight” had rung out and we were soon surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. With a bravado that I did not feel I replied;

“Go ahead, I know I can’t beat you.  You will beat me to a pulp but it won’t change anything-the truth is I will still be right and you will still be wrong”

We stood facing each other, waiting for the other to make the next move. Outwardly calm, I tried to give the impression that I was looking forward to meeting God face to face whilst inwardly I prayed that it would not be necessary. I watched my opponent, I saw the intimidating fury on his face slipping away to be replaced by confusion and then frustration. He really, really wanted to hit me, but he realised  if he beat me senseless he would end up looking foolish and small in front of the assembled crowd. He began to shake with frustration and then he burst into tears. The tension dissolved and as calmly as I could I walked away feigning an insouciance I did not feel. Power and toughness yielded to truth, I am glad or perhaps I would not be here to write this 🙂

What has all that got to do with questions? Well this week I have been attacked and harassed by questions. Powerful tough questions, some of which are beyond my ability to deal with. Like school yard bullies they are insistent and intimidating. They arrive at inconvenient times and they won’t leave, do not yield to gentle persuasion and yes, at times, they make me afraid . They make me fear for the future, for my family for myself. Like most bullies they don’t like to be alone but instead they roam in packs looking for victims whom they can prey on and steal from. Who are they? Perhaps you have met them at some stage . There’s that vicious little “Why?”  and his creepy cousin “Why me?” Then there are the bullies that come clothed in ecclesiastical garb looking like friends but inflicting ruthless pain all the same. “Where is God” “How could he do this to me?” They come and assault me at odd moments, in the small hours of the morning or as someone walks by with a new-born baby in their arms, seemingly care free and I suddenly realise I am being mugged by “Why couldn’t my child have been like that?”

In my experience there are 3 basic ways to deal with bullies and questions like these. You can run however none of us can run forever and they ultimately catch up to you. You can try appeasement but as Neville Chamberlain found out even little bullies can have big appetites. Bullies will steal from you as long as you are willing to give up what is precious to you. Lastly you can confront them. I have been seriously tempted to run, to just not “go there”, not think about it, and honestly I have run, retreating into the slums of India in the pages of “Shantaram” but unlike David Roberts I can’t live there.

Appeasement is another approach. Appeasement is the attempt to buy peace by giving away something valued without a fight. When we accept bad answers to tough questions we trade our birth right for the illusion of peace. What we are settling for is a solution which satisfies no-one. Appeasement doesn’t give us lasting peace, and only delays the conflict that we ultimately will have to deal with. Douglas McArthur put it this way

 “history teaches with unmistakable emphasis that appeasement but begets new and bloodier war. It points to no single instance where this end has justified that means, where appeasement had led to more than a sham peace.” 

Bad answers are an attempt to find peace by giving away hope and accepting a status quo which is less than the freedom that is ours in the Kingdom. When it comes to the question of suffering there are bad answers trotted out at times like this and in the light of the power of the tough question we  sometimes settle for them. We do it because we are people who have compulsion to understand, when we don’t understand we allow the pressure to make us accept any answer even if it does not fit with who God reveals himself to be. Here is one of the answers that I just don’t accept.

Down syndrome is God’s will for Mystery

I have a problem with this idea because if I accept that sickness, disability or suffering is God’s will for my daughter, or your daughter, or anyone then I make it impossible to pray for healing. Not only can I not pray for healing for the sick but I make it legal for the enemy to steal from my daughter, and others. I won’t accept that. If we buy this idea then not only would praying for healing be pointless but going to a doctor would be sin, after all I am working against God’s will. Jesus came to reveal the Father, to show us God’s will and his nature lived out in a human life. He said if you have seen me you have seen the father, and one of the main things he did was heal the sick, cured the disabled, delivered the demonized he never gave anyone diseases or disabilities. He never said “I give you the special gift of cancer, it will teach you so much” or “You need this sickness to teach you humility” or even “this is my will for you BE SICK!” No, consistently we see that he healed all the sick etc. I know that we do learn from our trials, that God works all things together for good for those who love him and he will use everything for my good; my trials, my battles, what the enemy throws at me and even my own stupidity, sin and mistakes but the fact that he does that is a testimony of his amazing love for me not evidence that it is Gods will for me. Our mission is clear : As in Heaven so on Earth. I see no sickness in either Eden or Heaven but it is here now. My job is to push in to undo the fruit of the fall not to accept it. Healing is the children’s bread, my child and every child. No, I won’t take that deal, it doesn’t give me peace. I prefer Mr. Churchill’s approach

For the Churchill purists-forgive the pastoral licence 😉

We shall fight (for healing) in the cities and nations,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in prayer, we shall defend our birthright, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight in our homes,
we shall fight in our churches,
we shall fight in the ever ripening fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the heavens;
we shall never surrender. 😉

So, how to deal with those tough questions? Hebrews 11:3 ”  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” With my head there are some things I don’t understand, some things perhaps that I can’t understand but by faith I learn to look past those things to an unseen rhelm, the rhelm of the spirit, of Mystery and there I see my daughter healed, whole, complete and I choose to fight on those terms. The questions -Why?, Why me? and their odious friends have made my head spin, temporarily, and to be honest I don’t have good answers at this time . I don’t understand but it is okay because by faith I understand my world is framed by God’s word,

  • God is good-all the time!
  • Healing is my inheritance!
  • All things are mine!

The invisible is greater than the visible and with Gods grace and strength I’ll spend the rest of my life, if need be, contending to bring that reality into this one. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen and so I will not give up any of my hope – it is my beach head into the unseen rhelm releasing miracles into this one.

So I choose to look the questions in the eye and say, “Go ahead I can’t answer now BUT the truth  is…. I am still right and you are still wrong”

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