Sunday, May 18 was a great day in the life of the two churches I serve. We had six young people make professions of faith in Christ through baptism and confirmation! That day was the culmination of a two month process called confirmation. Confirmation literally means “with firmness” and it is the culmination of the process began in our baptism as an infant. It is an opportunity for each young person to make their own decision to follow Jesus and to join the church.
I met with these young people six times over a two month period on a Sunday night. I really enjoyed getting to know them and sharing with them the story of Jesus and the church. One of the things that we talked about on the very first night was that confirmation was not only a time for them to listen but to ask questions. And they did! They asked me about the differences between Methodists and other churches. They asked me about what happens after death. They asked me about the Bible and how we got it. I tried to answer their questions as best as I could, but there were some questions that I had to honestly answer “I don’t know but this is what I think.” Even while they asked me these hard questions, I was struck by their sincere desire to know more about God and the church. I was struck that they were not afraid to ask the hard questions.
As a pastor, I face many hard questions. Why did my loved one die? Why did I get sick? Why does the one I love no longer love me? Where is God in the midst of my pain? And these are only a few of life’s hard questions that you and I face. I would be lying if I told you that I knew the answers to these hard questions. Truthfully, I have a long list of hard questions to ask God when I get there. My guess is that you have hard questions for God also.
But I love that I serve a God that is big enough to handle our hard questions. That doesn’t mean that we will always understand or that life will always be easy. Psalm 23:4 says that “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.” I wish that it said we would not have to go through the dark valley. But that is not the truth. Even Jesus, God’s own son, had dark days and terrible times. The good news is that even in the darkest valley, God is with us, providing comfort and hope.
I hope that you and I will follow the example of these young people who were hungry to know more about God and the church. I hope and pray that you and I will ask the hard questions. That doesn’t mean that there are easy answers (they are hard questions after all) but it does mean that we follow a God who is big enough to handle our questions, even the hard ones.