In the hilarious first book of “The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy,” (spoiler alert!) Arthur Dent, an earthman now traveling the stars with his friends, hears the story of an ultimate computer: “Deep Thought.” It is given the task of solving the answer to the question of life, the Universe, and everything. After 5 million years of computation it gives the answer: 42.
Everyone is upset until the computer points out that the answer doesn’t make sense only because the people don’t know what the ultimate question is. Figure out the question and the answer will make sense.
Through comedy, the author has made a good point. What is the question? What is the ultimate question that keeps us up at night and nags at our heart? There are several and I want to quickly suggest three.
The first, “Is there a God?” That answer will answer many others: Does my life have meaning? Is there purpose to the universe?
The second question is, “Can I find love and forgiveness?” That answer will answer other questions: Is there hope? How should I live?
These two are answered joyfully in the Bible. There is a loving God who has created us and his son, Jesus, came to this earth to give his life for us and allow us to be completely and totally forgiven.
But there is yet another question, answered in the Bible, but the answer is harder to see with our physical eyes. Despite God, love, and forgiveness, we now see a world where evil things happen. Indeed, sometimes evil people do evil things for evil purposes. That brings hostility and anger, pain received and pain given. So what is the third question?
It is this: “Is everything alright, ultimately?” To ask that is to ask if good will eventually win out over evil. It is to ask if we can hope. Asking that question is simply asking if we have been right to place our faith in God.
The overwhelming witness of scripture and those who have gone before us is: Yes! Yes we can put our faith in God.
Consider the story of Joseph, the man with the coat of many colors. After his brothers have sold him into slavery, God works with Joseph to bring about good things. Joseph later speaks to his brothers and says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” — Genesis 50:20
Joseph’s answer is that even when evil people do evil things with evil purposes, God can and will turn those things into good.
It is the marvelous witness of faith. Ultimately, God will bring good out of every evil thing. Suffering is temporary and a loving God waits for us all to come home, even when we don’t see it.
Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark.” And with the three answers the Bible gives to our ultimate questions, that is enough for me.
Rick Cupp is minister at Kenai Fellowship. Worship is livestreamed on Facebook at 11 a.m. Sunday mornings. Look up “Rick Cupp” and go to the page with the Kenai Fellowship sign as the backdrop picture to join us. We hope to be meeting again at the building — soon!