There comes a time in every person's life when the tough questions must be answered.
My time came when I was 6 years old. With firm resolve and unwavering determination, I trekked down to the garage where Dad was working on his car and presented the challenge. It was time I got some answers—and they had better be good.
“Dad ...” I paused for dramatic effect. “Where did I come from?”
Without lifting his head from beneath the hood of the car, he dished out my first setback. “Go ask your mother.”
Not quite what I was expecting—nor something I had a comeback for, at that age anyway.
At least I knew where to refocus my attention—back up the stairs and into the kitchen.
“Mum ...” dramatic pause number two. “Where did I come from?”
Mum turned away from her flurry of kitchen activity and looked into my eyes. Bingo. The quest for truth would be accomplished. “Go ask your dad.”
This was all too much for the processor in my 6-year-old head. I had just been sent on an infinite loop and I didn't know how to handle such complexities.
This was far more than I could deal with so I sadly postponed my quest until later.
Of course, later was only five minutes away when I bumped into my older sister.
At 7 and a half, she was bound to have all of life's answers. I quickly fired my question—no more dramatic pauses.
“Where did I come from?”
“The birds and the bees,” she answered with confidence and a touch of self-importance. Of course—the birds and the bees. So simple! Why hadn't I thought of that?
With my questions answered, it was time to get back to work—my matchbox cars were in need of a long-overdue maintenance round.
The “why” questions
We chuckle at recollections of childhood memories but are grateful for the many sensible answers we find along life's journey. But while many questions are answered, the passage of time seems to bring even more queries.
While children ask questions relating to the “how,” “when” and “where,” as adults, we begin to ask questions in the “why” sector.
Why did I end up who I am, as I am, where I am? Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Why do bad people prosper? Why is there so much suffering? Why, why, why?
Yet as adults, who can we turn to with our myriad of questions?
Science cannot answer these “why” questions. Philosophy only confuses the issue.
Psychology sends us into ourselves and our past. All too often, we come up empty.
The Bible offers hope. Yet it does not always answer all our questions. It tells us who we are—children of God (see 1 John 3:1), where we came from— created by God (see Genesis 1:27) and where we are going—to be with God (see John 14:1-3). But some of the “why” questions—especially relating to our individual lives—remain undisturbed.
For such questions, the Bible simply tells us to trust in God because He has all the answers. And just as parents might not go into the “birds and the bees” story with a 4 year old, so, too, God does not give us all the answers in this lifetime.
So will we ever find answers to our questions? Will we ever understand why?
The Bible responds with a resounding “yes.” God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has designated ample questionand- answer time where each and every question you might have will receive a fair hearing and an honest answer.
The Bible's answer
The Bible clearly reveals that when Jesus comes back the second time to put an end to sin and suffering, He will take those that know, love and obey Him to heaven (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). But what will they do there?
We read about this in the last book of the Bible, “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge” (Revelation 20:4).
Who are those allowed to judge?
The verse continues: “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.
They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
Those who judge are they who have been faithful to Jesus. They are those who have trusted in Him despite not having all the answers—and often in the face of serious suffering and tragedy. Now, in heaven, “judgment” is entrusted to them. But “who” and “what” are they judging? Doesn't God already know everything? Does He need humans to judge anything or anyone?
Who does the judging?
The truth is, God does know everything.
He doesn't need any help on the judge's panel. However, the judgment referred to here is not a time for us to sentence or condemn humans. The judgment God grants is a time when we can investigate God's dealings with humanity—His fairness, His justice, His methods. It is a time when God opens the books and we can ask any and every “why” question we have ever had. Why did I get cancer in the prime of life? Why did you let my child die?
Why didn't you make me a millionaire?
Why did all those children in Africa die? Why was there so much pain and devastation, and where were you amid all that? For an entire millennium, God will tenderly provide answers until all our questions are exhausted. And His answers will satisfy. He will not send us elsewhere with our questions but will lovingly show us His marvellous work in our lives, and His overwhelming effort to get us home to heaven with Him. Only then will we begin to understand His patience, love, mercy and grace toward us.
I can further imagine that as our list of questions is answered, a few new ones will arise. As we behold the joy and wonders of heaven, we will begin to look for loved ones—for acquaintances, family and friends. With some, we will be reunited for eternity but as we search for others, we will sadly discover they are not present.
Where are they? Why aren't they here? Tears will be shed at the thought of loved ones who are missing. But God will wipe away the tears and continue this process of investigation with us. The Bible tells us we will be given the option to judge the world—to investigate the way in which God has mercifully dealt with those who are lost.
God will reveal to us the countless appeals He has offered to every human being who has ever lived. We will see the many times He knocked on the heart's door— and witness the repeated rejections received by God. We will behold how those who are lost for eternity spurned each and every invitation for salvation. We will begin to understand why they are missing from heaven— not because God didn't want them or because God didn't do enough to save them—but because they refused to grab hold of Jesus, the lifeline.
Though at times it will be a painful investigation, it will bring healing to know that everything possible has been done for the salvation and happiness of all. As our questions are answered one by one, a single question will loom large in the hearts of all present in heaven: “How did we get into that terrible mess of sin and death anyway?
Who started it and why didn't God prevent it?”
The origin of evil
And again, with patience and love, God will let us investigate the great controversy between good and evil. We will investigate Lucifer-turned-Satan and his supporters (see 1 Corinthians 6:3), who willfully rebelled against God and brought pain and misery to our planet. We will investigate the way in which God strived to encourage Lucifer and his army to repent and leave their evil ways behind. We will witness the full extent of where selfishness leads, and the evil and pain such sin has caused through the millennia.
Only then will we begin to fully understand why God must put a final end to Satan, sin and unrepentant sinners.
Only then will we completely comprehend the need to exterminate this cancer of sin, before it destroys all life. Only then will all our questions be answered and we will rest content, knowing that God is love and God is fair—every time, all the time.
And with one voice we will sing: “Just and true are your ways, King of the ages” (Revelation 15:3).