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What to Do with Unanswerable Questions About an Unknown Future

By Barbara Rainey

Corrie felt more grown up sitting next to her father on the train into the city. As she watched farms and fields fly by out the window she decided to ask her papa a question. After rehearsing the words this way and that, she bravely turned her face toward him and asked, “What is sex?”

Like most parents caught off guard by this intimate topic, he was silent for what seemed a very long time. As the train pulled into the station he stood up, retrieved his suitcase from the overhead rack and set it on the floor. Looking at his little girl he asked, “Will you carry this suitcase for me?” 

She reached for the handle and tried to lift it, but it was much too heavy. Father smiled and said, “Yes, it is. I would be a poor father to ask my little girl to carry such a heavy load. It’s the same way with knowledge, Corrie. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

Corrie was satisfied with his answer, knowing she could leave this unanswered question about the unknown in her father’s keeping.

This year I have been asking God to carry many heavy suitcases, many unanswered questions I can’t carry. The weight of so much unknown in relationships, the future, my plans … it’s a burden He wants to take from me, if I will give it to Him. 

Decades later Corrie ten Boom was a prisoner at Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. She remembered the story of trusting her earthly father with knowledge too heavy to bear and there in prison she had to choose to trust her Heavenly Father again, this time with endless unanswered questions arising from the horrors of abuse and trauma and constant fear. 

The unanswered questions and gnawing fears of 2020 are not the magnitude of a Nazi concentration camp, but are traumatic nonetheless. The end of the pandemic is not yet in sight here in America, and daily we are reminded to be very afraid. The great unknowns include school openings, church attendance, singing, air travel, sporting events at all levels, and the ever-changing information about Covid-19 transmission and its effects. 

And then there is the election. Dire warnings of life as we have known it ending forever, no matter who wins in November. It’s unsettling at the least and terrifying at the worst.

Who do we believe? Who can be trusted? Where is stability to be found?

In early 1944 Corrie and her family feared they would eventually be arrested for hiding Jews in their home. But they hoped and prayed it wouldn’t happen. Corrie even packed a little prison bag in preparation, but when the sudden brutal arrest came she wasn’t able to grab it. She learned how little she could do to prepare for future unknowns.

In the summer of 2020 we know now what we didn’t know in March: life is changing rapidly and permanently. But there is so much we still can’t know or see

It’s as if we are still on a train, watching scenes out the window rapidly appear and disappear, with black tunnels in between. We are not yet at our destination. There is no map in the seat pocket. Our arrival time is very uncertain. What will life be like once we arrive? No one knows and there is little we can do to prepare.

But God.

All our unknowns are known to Him.

All our questions have answers He will reveal one day … if not here, then when we see Him face to face. As 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

God knows our destination and the number of our days. Psalm 139:16 says, “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”