The Gift of a Quandary?

The Gift of a Quandary? February 12, 2024

Is it okay to question scripture when you do not know what to do?


Life is a quandary.

Life can be a mess. 

There are days when you feel that all you can do is just catch a smidgen of rest. 

The day feels like you are trudging up a hill.

The mud and muck make it so difficult to even make it a few steps up that hill.

You see the mountain of debt that life has accumulated. 

Funds are low, you are not sure that you can make it. 

You just want to quit. 

You just can’t take it. 

When life hits you with those merciless blows. 

Remember dear readers, to stop, pray, and come to know.

That there are times when life hits us with all that it has. 

Keep going, keep trudging. 


Even when peace seems slow, keep looking up.

Success and failure, those words encompass quite a lot. One little twist, or an attitude that turns.

Could make all the difference between those two words. When you fall, sometimes you have to get up. 

Dust off those knees and learn to never give up. That success may be closer than it seems. 

Keep walking on, dare to dream. 

It was once said by the poet, John Whittier:

“Success is failure turned inside out-The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell just how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit- It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

For all the sad words of tongue or pen. The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

Listen, keep going, dear readers and friends.  

We’ve often been told that things are darkest before the dawn.

If that is true dear readers, we must carry on.

What is a Quandary? 

A quandary is a state of perplexity. It is uncertainty in a given situation. How often do we walk through life in a quandary? I know that I do a good bit. When I read the entire poem by John Whittier I had to take a moment and pause. He wrote about how life is strange with its twists and turns. But the words that really caught my attention were: “Life is strange with its twists and turns. As every one of us sometimes learns. And many a failure comes about. When he might  have had he stuck it out; Don’t give up though the pace seems slow- You may succeed with another blow.” 

This poem sums up life in so many words.

John Whittier was a Quaker by faith and quite dedicated to the precepts of the Bible. No doubt when he wrote this poem he took into account the scriptures that are written when we are in a quandary. Most notably:

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap the harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

You’ve prayed, you’ve asked, you have pleaded and there is still no answer. Nothing but more of the same. Understandably it is quite easy to give up when there is no answer to be found. In that time we must continue to be about hard work, meaningful work,  the work that causes change. Even when we feel like we are in a state of waiting and questioning. Our journey of how we believe things can happen is what we aim for in a perfect world. But how often do situations turn out to our specific longings? It is understandable to want to stop asking, to stop the quandary. Life seems so easy when we have a little computer in our hands. We have instant access to all the information that we could ever want. We can order things with a click of a button. Leave the house? Why? All necessities are right within our grasp. While those conveniences are wonderful. Are they meaningful? That is a quandary indeed, is it not?

When reading the life of John Whittier I was truly in awe. Whittier was a Quaker, a poet, a politician and an abolitionist. He suffered not one, but two mental breakdowns. Yet he did not give up.  His beliefs were so solid that he supported women writers when that was not an encouraged vocation. Mostly he was committed to being a good human to all. It is worth pondering if we as a society need to return to these ideas. Even when we have questions, continue to pray, continue to work and continue to ask.

The words Jesus often come to mind:

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to everyone who knocks the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NLT

While the quandary persists, our actions and ideas need not be momentous or full of pomp and splendor. But rather quite small. 

Most notably this particular poem shows that this soul, despite his physical ailments did not give up. He did not stop writing. He did not stop trying to be a good human. Life is a quandary for sure. But that quandary is very much a decision to keep going when we can hardly walk. I am reminded of the words of Epictetus: “No great thing is created suddenly.” Keep going through the quandary dear readers.   

If you want to read more of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poems they can be found here:

About Kathy King
Kathy is the mother of six grown children. Five of which serve in the military. She is a trained pianist and opera singer who absolutely loves any old musical from the golden era. Kathy has written six children’s books and is currently finishing her first novel. Born and raised in the South, she is very familiar with life in the church each and every time the doors opened. Covered dish dinners were plentiful, the music was the old hymns passed down for generations, and “Bless your heart” was uttered quite a lot. Kathy has served as a church pianist, music minister, orchestra director, and an occasional scripture teacher for her churches. You can read more about the author here.

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