First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church

When Answers aren't the Answer


When Answers Aren’t the Answer

When tragedies such as the terror attacks in Sri Lanka target Christians, I wonder what we think the ‘right’ response should be.

Do we think it’s wrong to rage at God, to question and petition him? Are we afraid of confronting God with our questions?

Because in a society which is increasingly valuing authenticity, I think the way we respond to atrocities like these attacks which killed Christians celebrating Easter can be a vital point of connection, the beginning of profound conversations about the God we worship.

Often, we can feel like putting anything other than a positive spin on pain is bad evangelism. We want a sermon illustration before we’ve grieved our losses. We want to be able to offer answers and solutions to the question of where God is when life hurts before we’ve tended our wounds.

But what if answers aren’t the answer?

When I heard the news of the attacks, my first thought was for family members in Sri Lanka. I felt keenly the pain of Sri Lanka’s history – a place ravaged by years of civil wars, corruption, and the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami – and my question was simply:

‘How long, O Lord?’

The words echo down the millennia, borrowed from the Psalmists. Churches across the world found themselves both rejoicing in the victory of Easter and grieving the unfolding events.

It is understandable that many people want to find meaning in meaninglessness, to be able to make sense of tragedy and find a reason to hope. But perhaps there is something more prophetic, more powerful, about voicing our unanswered questions and lamenting before God that this was not how it was ‘meant to be’.

The ability we have to lament, to be honest with God in the face of life’s pain, and be met in our questions by his presence is central to our faith. It’s writ large throughout Scripture, all gathered together in the cry of Jesus from the cross: ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

There are no easy answers, but there is lament. We can pour out our pain to Jesus knowing that he experienced the agony of the cross. We can lament to our God who defeated the grave, knowing that his son still carries the scars of crucifixion. It may not feel like the ‘right’ response, but perhaps it is the best one we have.

Rachael Newham

Rachael (@RachaelNewham90) is the Founder of ThinkTwice (@thinktwiceinfo) and the author of Learning to Breathe. She blogs at