The Fruitful Place of ‘I Don’t Know’

By Aubrey Coleman
Staff Writer for The Daily Grace Co. 

How often do you come across a passage in the Bible that confuses you or leaves you with more questions than answers? When studying the Bible with others, how do you respond to difficult questions? It can be tempting to run to commentaries or google searches for quick solutions. We might feel an obligation to have an answer for everything. How do we remedy our search? Sometimes the answers come with ease, but other times we are left in a state of “I don’t know.” How can we take advantage of the moments when we aren’t sure of the answer? 

In the age of instant gratification, we have answers right at our fingertips. You don’t remember how long the Civil War lasted? No problem, you can ask Alexa! You don’t know how many ounces are in a cup? No worries, you can ask Siri! You don’t know what an obelus is? Google is the guy for the job. The pursuit of answers to our inquiries can be quick and painless. So when we stumble upon the difficult, unclear, or mysterious parts of the Bible, we’re not sure what to do with them. We might not like the uncomfortable place of “I don’t know.”  

God in His wisdom, gives us great understanding through His Word. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” There is glaring wisdom found in giving ourselves to the Scriptures. The wealth of knowledge held in its pages knows no bounds. But we are human and our perspective and understanding are limited. Commentaries and resources are a wonderful gift to us, but we must not treat them as the ultimate source of wisdom. We may be surrounded by wonderfully wise  Christians, but we must not hold their words higher than God’s Word. Studying the Bible will undoubtedly come with questions and an opportunity presents itself when we find ourselves confused, to press into the knowledge of God. Our first response may be to run to something outside of Scripture that can give us quick answers, but God’s strength is shown in our weakness. Confessing that we don’t understand something opens the door for humble learning and curates an understanding of the intricacies and complexities of God. Acknowledging our inability to know and understand all things does two things: deflates our pride and exalts the wisdom that comes from above. 

The pursuit of knowledge in God’s Word must continually be considered with humility. The study of the Bible is not something to be accomplished, but something to savor and be blessed and instructed by. Our pursuit of understanding must continually be reoriented from self-glorifying to God-glorifying. Even among the most brilliant Bible scholars and history’s most prominent theologians, mysteries and questions remain. We are privileged as children of God to have softened hearts towards the Scriptures. Our eyes have been opened to the beauty and knowledge of God’s Word by the unveiling work of Jesus Christ. God has given us the grace to understand and He has given us truth to never lead us astray. But God makes it clear that there is a knowledge only He can possess. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” God makes known to us what He desires to make known to us for our good and His glory.  

When we can honestly and humbly confess to ourselves and one another that we don’t know the answers, we extend an invitation to lean into the wisdom and knowledge of God.  When preparing for our time in God’s Word, let’s always pray for His help to discern and understand His words. In times of studying the Bible with others, let’s be quick to confess our lack of understanding and point one another to dig deeper into the Scriptures for answers. When we leave our time of study without a tangible application or with questions still looming, let it draw us back to the Scriptures time and time again. Our questions should never cripple us but instead, lead us back to our Support. Claiming “I don’t know” should never leave us dry but should produce a glorious and continuous dependence on our glorious God for greater understanding. 

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