Questions

Someone recently asked me what I want. That question is so much bigger than it seems at first glance. What would make me happy right now? What would make me happy long-term? What would really be good for me? Or what would help me be good for someone else? Questions always seem to lead not to answers, but to more questions, at least for me.

When my son Jonathan was a child, it seemed he had nothing but questions. When I would clean his room, I’d find numerous tiny scraps of paper torn from the edges of school papers, each scrap with a question scribbled on it. In pencil, of course; ink is too definite. I gave him a small notebook. He filled it with questions. No answers, just page after page of questions.

When Jonathan was younger, the questions were relatively easy to answer: “Why is the sky blue?” “How hot is the sun?” “Why is today Friday?” As he got older the questions became more challenging, and I after a while I began to dread it when he’d come to me and ask, “Mommy, can we talk about questions?” Of course I would say yes, and we would discuss a page or two of his questions. I very rarely had answers that were deeply satisfying, but discussing his questions seemed to help.

I, too, have had both difficult and unanswerable questions. “Why do children get abused?” “How can I deal with the hurt of rejection?” “Why does a good God allow evil in the world?”

Oh, there are answers out there to all these questions, but none of those answers really gets at the deepest level of the questions. A few years ago a wise friend suggested that perhaps I could learn to make friends with unanswered questions, to see them as part of wonder and mystery, of not being God.

The story of Job is one of the “Wisdom Books” of the Bible. Interestingly, it contains more questions than answers. After he lost his children, his health, his wealth, and the respect of his friends, Job flung his very understandable questions at God. In reply he receives not answers, but a barrage of questions. But somehow those questions, all beyond Job’s ability to answer, were the answer he needed, and he responded with, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3) If the book of Job is indeed a Wisdom book, perhaps there is more wisdom in befriending questions than in demanding answers.

A page from Jonathan’s Question Book

A to Z April Blogging Q

2 Replies to “Questions”

    • Thank you, Katherine! I was thinking I might consider pulling some of this and some other pieces together into a book at some point. I could see you doing something like this A to Z challenge some year.

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