Asking Questions about Faith

Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY

I often find myself having conversations with people who are asking questions about faith. Full disclosure: there are even times that conversation is in the mirror. We all wonder about the nature of God. We marvel at creation. We wrestle with the purpose of life around us. But we also ask more difficult questions as well. Questions like if there is a God how can there be so much evil, sin, and brokenness in creation? How indeed?

I don’t know about you, but that question tends to open up a floodgate for me. Suddenly I’m asking how an all-powerful God can let hurricanes flood entire cities, tyrannical rulers use chemical weapons on their own people, or millions of children starve in the developing world. How does God let those things happen? How can God be so content to do nothing? Right?

Then again, who said God was doing nothing? That’s the problem with those questions. They lead us down the wrong path. They lead us to focus on what we perceive God is not doing, rather than all that God does.

Watch what happens when we put it in terms of people. When I meet someone new I always try to hear their story. I ask where they were and are from, what they are passionate about, the most important people in their lives, and what they spend their time and energy doing both for work and in their free time. Their answers tell me a lot about who they are. But what if instead of asking those questions, I only focused on what I perceived they didn’t do. If I did that I would walk away not knowing any more about that person than when I started.

So why do we do that with God? The next time you are tempted to believe God is sitting back while people go hungry remember the billions of people God feeds every day. Look at your plate and the food that God has provided for you. Consider the fertile earth that yields crops while we sleep. Maybe when it comes to hunger, God isn’t the one doing nothing.

It’s tempting to ask questions about where we perceive God is absent, but it’s a trap. It’s a trap that meant to distract us from seeing all of the places God continues to be hard at work in his world. So the next time you wonder where God was in the natural disaster or war or poverty, step back and look again. You’ll see him. You’ll see God in the relief efforts, working for justice and peace, and providing for all his children despite our own negligent ways.

For more inspiration and insights from past columns, please visit and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Shawn is a 2010 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, and he began his call at Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade NY that summer. While he spent four years learning and serving churches in South and North Carolina, as a Jamestown, NY native, Western New York has always been home. He is glad to be here. Pastor Shawn and his wife Carol Hannon met while attending SUNY Geneseo in the mid-2000s. They have enjoyed making their home together in Arcade with their daughters Quinn and Perry.   Pastor Shawn has a background in youth and outdoor ministry. He is a former camper and staff person at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point, NY. He has also served camps in urban settings and oversees in Madagascar. In seminary he was recognized for gifts in Greek and New Testament, and in his senior year was recognized with awards in both Preaching and Biblical Studies. Pastor Shawn continues to emphasize the youth in his ministry, but not simply because they are the future church, but because they are the church of today.  He also enjoys working on service projects, and takes the role of planning meaningful and engaging worship seriously.  He loves helping people find ways to put their passion and energy to work making their community and other people’s worlds a better place. When he is not working at church, Shawn enjoys remodeling and construction projects around his family’s home.  But as busy as he gets, PS always has time for a quick nine (okay, 18) on the golf course. He enjoys playing sports of all kinds and fiddling with his guitar.