Hope That Does Not Disappoint

Questioning moments – times when life raises questions about the unquestioned presence of God.

Sara Maitland, in her book A Big Enough God tells the following story about a questioning moment.  “A few years ago, just a day or so after York Minster was struck by lightning, I was on my way to the local post office near my home, which is in a wretchedly poor part of Hackney, when I met an elderly woman.  She was most distressed by this bolt from the heavens, this ‘act of God’ as the insurance people call it (which alone gives you pause for thought).  She was very upset.  Did I think, she asked, that God had done it on purpose, as some newspapers were speculating?  The post was about to leave, and I was in a hurry, but how can anyone resist such a subject?   No, I said, I didn’t really think so, did she?  No, she said, she didn’t really think that God was like that.  There was a pause, and I was poised to escape.  Then she added, in what I can only describe as a tone of affectionate criticism, “But God should have been more careful; God should have known there’d be talk.”  (pp. 131-132)

One day people were talking with Jesus about a questioning moment when Pontus Pilate mingled the blood of sacrifices with the blood of some Galileans who had come to the Temple in Jerusalem.  This questioning moment of life likely was the result of Pilate’s decision to siphon money away from the Jewish temple treasury for an aqueduct project that would convey water from a spring some 30 miles away from Jerusalem directly into the city.  After taking the money from the treasury, Pilate was greeted at a religious festival by huge demonstrations of angry Jewish citizens.  To assist with crowd control, Pilate disguised his personal troops and sent them into the crowds to kill the Jewish ringleaders and greatest troublemakers.  It was an act of violence that generated questioning moments about why God would allow something so horrible and so unjust to happen.

Responding to the questioning moment of Pilate’s inhumanity, Jesus cited another questioning moment that had nothing to do with political intrigue.  It was the questioning moment of the Tower of Siloam unexpectedly collapsing and resulting in the deaths of 18 people.

Responding to both of these questioning moments, Jesus stated two facts about questioning moments:

Fact #1: Persons who are victims of the questioning moments of life are no worse sinners than anyone else.

Fact #2: Unless we repent, we also will perish

As you hear these two facts about questioning moments, you may find yourself asking what is Jesus talking about.  If persons who are victims of questioning moments are no worse sinners than anyone else, then why is there a need to repent so we will not perish?  It does not make sense until you realize that Jesus is stating that there is a deeper question to life than the question of questioning moments.  This deeper question is not our questioning of other people’s relationships with God.  The deeper question of life is the question of our relationship with God.  This is why Jesus tells us to repent so we will not perish.  Jesus is inviting us to live in a relationship with God that will sustain us even when we face the questioning moments of life.

Dr. Matt Skinner writes that in the Gospel of Luke and in many other places in the Bible, repentance “refers to a changed mind, to a new way of seeing things, to being persuaded to adopt a different perspective.”


When Jesus responded to the questioning moments caused by Pilate’s brutality and the crumbling Tower of Siloam by talking about repentance, he was inviting the people with whom he spoke to see life in a new way through the unquestioned presence of God.

As we live in questioning moments of our time – Vladimir Putin’s brutality in Russia’s war on Ukraine, the potential of a global shortage of grain because of this war, inflation increasing at a rate not seen since 1980, soaring gasoline prices, the escalating level of mass shootings in our country, political gridlock – Jesus invites us to do the same as we live with faith in the unquestioned presence of God in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Questioning Moments
by Pastor Marc Brown
June 26, 2022

Accompanying Scriptures: Luke 13:1-5

Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for June 12, 2021

Scripture Lesson     Luke 13:1-5

The Good News        “Questioning Moments”

Music                            “The Church’s One Foundation”



Closing Music       “Lord, I want to be a Christian” by Robert Thygerson

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