By Anthony Casperson
Answerman gained his powers slowly. Throughout years of my peers looking to me for the answers to biblical questions they forgot or didn’t know, that look of “Anthony has the answer” became the big question mark in the sky signaling for Answerman to save the day.
It’s not that the people who grew up with me in the church I went to were uninformed. They heard the same Sunday school lessons that I did. They went through AWANA just like I did. But there came those moments when it was just easier to look to me for the answer rather than answer it themselves.
All the way up through high school, Answerman could bust through any churchy question with ease. But then came the day when Answerman finally met his match. I was about to begin bible college and there were some entrance tests to see where everybody stood as they entered the school.
One test in particular was the kryptonite of Answerman: the bible knowledge test. Confidently entering the exam, what was supposed to be Answerman’s forte, was the beginning of his first defeat. Question after question asked about things that no Sunday school curriculum had ever trained Answerman.
Fist after fist, blow after blow, Answerman succumbed to questions about chronology of biblical characters and questions about strangely named people he’d never heard of and so many other questions. It was the very first time Answerman failed his job. If those people who had looked to him for the answers could see him then, they would be ashamed of their hero.
Though I’ve eventually grown some in humility through the fall of Answerman, his failure did leave me depressed for a while. This was what I was supposed to be good at, and I’d failed.
Now, why do I bring up a story from almost half of my life ago? The reason is that I was reminded, this past week, of the fall of Answerman. Or rather, I should say, I was reminded of that feeling of depressing failure for not having the answer.
I was waiting for inspiration for what to write this week and nothing was coming. I had a couple of ideas, but merely embryonic. Nothing fully-formed enough to write about.
Then I started thinking about loneliness, about the feeling of being surrounded by people, yet still being alone. I thought about how in several months time I had changed nearly my whole life. New job. New church. New ministry (this here). Surrounding myself with so many new people in new places and not maintaining those old relationships well.
Being an introvert’s introvert made those changes difficult and lonely. The people I could open myself up to easily without worry of rejection were no longer within easy access. Establishing new relationships in one area of my life takes me a long time normally. Let alone having to establish them in nearly every area.
And even though those changes are nearing their anniversary, I still find my connections with these new people to be found wanting. I still feel alone in their midst. It’s a loneliness I want to be over with already.
So, I began thinking about what to write in that regard. What is it I’ve learned that can help other people overcome similar issues? Day after day, no answer came. I thought to myself “I can’t just write about the problem without an answer. That won’t be helpful for anyone.”
I wanted the answer, an answer, anything that wouldn’t make me fail in writing something that could help others. Nothing came but that depression of the fallen Answerman. He’d crept back up in my life, pridefully thinking that only I could help other people with the right answer. But he’d failed again and the depression of his defeat came swiftly along with.
Not having an answer SUCKS. Whatever we’re dealing with: loneliness, depression, anxiety, self-loathing, physical illnesses, various sins, the list could go on and on. Not having an answer, to either alleviate it or show us the reason for it, leaves us in a difficult place. We feel powerless, unable, inept.
I was reminded that just because I don’t have the answer, it doesn’t mean the answer doesn’t exist. God has the answer. Yeah, I scoffed too when that thought came to my mind. It’s too simple. Too easy. Too “Sunday school” of an answer. But the truth of it is more powerful than I originally thought.
Faith that God has the answer and knows what he’s doing with it is greater than any superhero. It’s a freedom in knowing that everything doesn’t fall on us. Sure, it’s difficult to live in this type of faith, but sometimes it’s all that we have.
And we’re not alone. I’ve been reading through the Psalms for my morning time with God. Do you know how many Psalms have the author wrestle with their problems without an answer and then just resolve to trust that God knows what he’s doing? How many come to an end without an answer given? I haven’t kept count, but I know it’s a lot.
The Psalmists struggle with enemies, family, depression, worry, fear, and even their own sins. Yet psalm after psalm they write that even though they don’t have the answer, they will still rely on God who has proven himself over and over again in their lives.
It’s not important to always have an answer. It’s important to grow in relationship with the one who has them all. He proves that he knows just what we need even if it’s not the answer that we seek.
So, if you’re like me and struggling with something without a clue as to the answer, be willing to accept that the answer might not come. It’s not because there isn’t an answer or that God doesn’t care to give you the answer. It might just be part of growth in relationship with God to trust that he knows what he’s doing.
Always having the right answer isn’t our job, even if you are Answerman.