What to Do with Unanswerable Questions About an Unknown Future

Corrie felt more grown up sitting next to her father on the train into the city. As she watched farms and fields fly by out the window she decided to ask her papa a question. After rehearsing the words this way and that, she bravely turned her face toward him and asked, “What is sex?”

Like most parents caught off guard by this intimate topic, he was silent for what seemed a very long time. As the train pulled into the station he stood up, retrieved his suitcase from the overhead rack and set it on the floor. Looking at his little girl he asked, “Will you carry this suitcase for me?” 

She reached for the handle and tried to lift it, but it was much too heavy. Father smiled and said, “Yes, it is. I would be a poor father to ask my little girl to carry such a heavy load. It’s the same way with knowledge, Corrie. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

Corrie was satisfied with his answer, knowing she could leave this unanswered question about the unknown in her father’s keeping.

This year I have been asking God to carry many heavy suitcases, many unanswered questions I can’t carry. The weight of so much unknown in relationships, the future, my plans … it’s a burden He wants to take from me, if I will give it to Him. 

Decades later Corrie ten Boom was a prisoner at Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. She remembered the story of trusting her earthly father with knowledge too heavy to bear and there in prison she had to choose to trust her Heavenly Father again, this time with endless unanswered questions arising from the horrors of abuse and trauma and constant fear. 

The unanswered questions and gnawing fears of 2020 are not the magnitude of a Nazi concentration camp, but are traumatic nonetheless. The end of the pandemic is not yet in sight here in America, and daily we are reminded to be very afraid. The great unknowns include school openings, church attendance, singing, air travel, sporting events at all levels, and the ever-changing information about Covid-19 transmission and its effects. 

And then there is the election. Dire warnings of life as we have known it ending forever, no matter who wins in November. It’s unsettling at the least and terrifying at the worst.

Who do we believe? Who can be trusted? Where is stability to be found?

In early 1944 Corrie and her family feared they would eventually be arrested for hiding Jews in their home. But they hoped and prayed it wouldn’t happen. Corrie even packed a little prison bag in preparation, but when the sudden brutal arrest came she wasn’t able to grab it. She learned how little she could do to prepare for future unknowns.

In the summer of 2020 we know now what we didn’t know in March: life is changing rapidly and permanently. But there is so much we still can’t know or see

It’s as if we are still on a train, watching scenes out the window rapidly appear and disappear, with black tunnels in between. We are not yet at our destination. There is no map in the seat pocket. Our arrival time is very uncertain. What will life be like once we arrive? No one knows and there is little we can do to prepare.

But God.

All our unknowns are known to Him.

All our questions have answers He will reveal one day … if not here, then when we see Him face to face. As 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

God knows our destination and the number of our days. Psalm 139:16 says, “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

I am not the first to recognize my hope has been placed in circumstances and a way of life I have trusted for decades. Is God reminding me … pressing me to trust more in Christ alone? Always He calls me to Himself. 

Corrie ten Boom and her family listened to the radio daily eagerly hoping for news that the Allies had landed and were about to set them free. In prison hopeful rumors abounded about expected release. But even faith heroes faltered in faith. 

Do you find yourself listening to news or reading the latest online, looking for reasons to hope for tomorrow? 

Waiting for some promise, some new revelation on which to stand that is stable and solid?

Is the promise of a vaccine raising your expectations for tomorrow?

Are you hoping the elections will resolve much of our present tension, division and personal panic? 

Will a sense of normal return when schools start? 

God … is … calling … me … and you … to … Himself.

He is always calling our names. 

We are now … finally … less distracted, less driven than we have been in a long, long time.

Will you listen?

Will you let Him carry those suitcases that are too heavy in your life, too?

Ask Him to give you ears to hear His kind offers to help? 

Use these days of unknowns and instability to sink roots deeper and deeper into Him. 

I am praying for you and for personal individual revival in our world.

May it be so, Lord God.


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11 thoughts on “What to Do with Unanswerable Questions About an Unknown Future”

  1. I love Ps 139:16! It reminds me He sees all my days and is here to be beside me as I walk thru them. Corrie Ten Boom has always been a mentor to me because I was able to see how God had taught her to trust Him from a child. I had an opportunity to hear her speak when I was in high school. What a blessing it was. Thank you for sharing her story again. It ministered to me as I am carrying for my elderly mother who also has dementia. I remember He sees it all and will help me every step of the way. Thank you for the encouragement Barbara.

  2. It’s amazing that my thoughts were like yours last week as I finalized a poem with a couple of lines that mirrored what you said about the heavy suitcase, except mine was a backpack.
    “On my journey of life, I travelled to find peace and rest.
    I stumbled through the undergrowth of fears and doubt.
    My backpack weighed me down, filled with worries and pain.
    The rocky road held only lonliness as I had no companion.”
    There are more stanzas, but I identified with the heavy suitcase as I know my heavenly Father will carry my burdens as I trust Him on this journey of life with all the unknowns.

    1. Kathy,
      Glad you are writing. I think God likes it when we write for Him like parents who hang scribble pictures on their refrigerators!
      Thanks for commenting. Suitcases and backpacks are all the same in the end!

  3. I read The Hiding Place last month and I loved the heavy suitcase analogy for its truthful simplicity. Letting go of those heavy suitcases is my daily choice now. Thank you Barbara for sharing with a larger audience than I have

  4. Barbara that was exactly what I needed to hear today! Truly, our days, my days are in His hands! Thank you the sweet reminder to lean in to our Father and let Him carry the heavy loads!

  5. I enjoyed your post and your suitcase analogy. Every time I feel the swell of panic, I remember who is indeed in control.

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