When I renamed this blog to its current title, the idea was to exalt and recognize the value of questions. In a typical week, I’m processing almost everything I experience through a filter of who-what-when-where-why questions. I can’t turn it off. I question everything.
Unfortunately, sometimes questions are misused. You may have heard a friend, a spouse, or a parent ask in frustration, “Why did you do that?” Chances are, they aren’t really looking for an answer if you just did something stupid. At it’s worst, these kinds of questions mask condemnation toward the beliefs or actions of others. Instead of being a means to seek greater understanding, they become barbs––cheap replacements for good communication.
Other times, we avoid questions completely. Difficult questions about life and God leave us unsettled, and it’s much easier to accept simple answers that only soothe our fear of not having an answer. (If the thing we fear most is not having all the right answers, I’ve got bad news: our greatest fears have been realized.)
The ability to ask good questions is a strength. Good questions move us forward in our desire to discover new knowledge and rediscover old truths.
Even for the most utilitarian needs, asking the right question is vital. If your car breaks down and you are mechanically-inclined, you ask, “What tools do I need to fix this myself?”
The same applies for matters closest to the heart. If you are having trouble with a rebellious teenager, you ask, “How can I relate to her and still be a good parent through this?” If you are experiencing difficult times and feel distant from God, but can’t shake the idea that God exists, you may start by asking “Where is God?” as a way to open the door to honest prayer and introspection.
Questions appear throughout the Psalms. Their honesty is raw and unfiltered:
Why, O LORD, do you stand afar off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
(The same question Jesus uttered in his darkest suffering)
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
Many of these kinds of questions appear at the beginning of a psalm. They seem to serve as a beginning place not for disbelief, but for seeking God. It’s the question, the painful cry of a searching heart, that opens the heart of the seeker to receive from God what God offers.
At times, questions are difficult and cause temporary dissension with those we are close to, but ultimately, our minds and hearts can open up more freely to God and to others when we ask.
“…the door shall be opened.”