Answering tough questions

I Peter 3:15
image from KCIS radio

It’s always so much easier to respond to a tough question when you feel like you have words to use. I mean, obviously, right? But beyond words, cohesive thoughts and full sentences so that you can feel confident when someone actually asks you “said” theoretical question. Some people can think quickly on their feet and have an awesome response right off the cuff. I think that’s happened to me, personally, maybe 5 times in my life. Not even kidding. But 159,432 times in my life, I’m the one who always thinks of these awesome comebacks and responses after I’ve stewed about it for a while. Does anyone else feel my pain?

There really is something to be said about not being quick on your feet, but I’ll get back to that. More importantly there’s something to be said about thinking things through BEFORE you have to deal with it. Peter spoke about this: “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” (1 Peter 3:15). I don’t think we can ever be prepared absolutely for questions and situations that will be thrown at us, but we can prepare the best we can with what we have. Being in God’s Word daily, praying, being in fellowship with other believers are just a few ideas on how we can potentially prepare ourselves.

As for all the holes in our preparation (because there will always be at least one hole or two) that’s part of what the Holy Spirit teaches us in the moment:

“When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Luke 12:11-12

It’s funny how we may be thinking of the big stuff – at least I am. For example, some random person asking me an extremely tough question about my faith. Like, why is there so much pain and suffering? Why should I live my life according to your God? And a million other things. But in reality, no one yet has approached me with these questions (I’m ready though! Ha! Sort of. I have deer in headlight syndrome when I’m put on the spot!). But more often questions will come in the form of little people asking something as simple as, “Why is it bad to say, “Oh my God”?” Or “Why are those kids mean?” Or “Why does that person only have one leg or walks funny or act weird?” Or better yet, “Why do I have to fill-in-the-blank??” If you really want to answer those questions with honesty, transparency, and a reverence to Jesus, there’s some preparation that we all need to do as parents.

Thinking through our answers so that we have a clear and concise response is so incredibly important. There are many different angles we could take on any of the examples above. But what are we actually trying to teach our children? I try to remind my kids frequently of the only catechism (Westminster Shorter Catechism) I have memorized (which is very much paraphrased): “What is our job here on earth? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And one way to do that is to bring joy to others.” So if we have that as our foundation for responding to life and all its messiness, it helps form a God-edifying answer to those unexpected questions that are asked of us.

As for not being quick on your feet, I really think it CAN be a blessing. If we can’t think of a quick, witty response, maybe that’s God’s way of stopping us from saying something we will regret. It also helps us to stay humble and even respond with an “I don’t know” when necessary. I said above that I’ve answered right off the cuff beautifully about 5 times in my life, but to expand on that, I’ve also answered in a knee jerk way much more often than I’d like to think about, which has caused me a lot of regret and grief. So not worth it. Covering our mouths, if need be, is “oh so wise” sometimes. In the heat of the moment, something brilliant may come out, but more often something cutting, hurtful, unnecessary or just simply “not thought through” spews out which only has the potential to minimally make matters uglier or worse, give a warped or twisted picture of the God we love, worship, and are here to honor.

Knowing when to say something and when not to can be so hard to gauge. But when we are prayerfully asking God for wisdom, it’s nice to know that He will prompt us to speak up or shut our mouths when we place ourselves in a spirit of submission to Him. And that goes for little or big people.

And as a side note, walking boldly, together should not be a license to speak Truth without thoughtfully thinking things through, but instead to compassionately, lovingly, and honestly share convictions considering how, at any given moment or situation, we can best glorify God and ultimately bring others joy. Can I hear an Amen?

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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