Why do we ask questions?
A number of reasons. We ask questions because we are seeking information – we don’t know an answer, and we think that the person we are asking does, so we ask. We also ask questions as a means of intimacy – we aren’t particularly interested in information, we are interested in a person, and so we ask them questions about themselves. We also ask questions as a means of understanding. We know the information, but we don’t understand someone’s perspective or thought process or feelings, so we are seeking further clarity. There are more reasons, of course, but all of those reasons seem to have at least one thing in common:
We ask because we are lacking.
We need something. Be it information, perspective, understanding, or whatever, there is something that we don’t currently have that we need. That’s why we ask. But what about God?
He asks questions, too. In fact, we see God asking questions over and over again in Scripture. But what is His intent in making these queries?
Well, we know first of all what His intent is not. We know that these questions is not out of lack. God already knows all the answers. He already understands perfectly. He already has every perspective. In fact, God actually knows the facts of every situation better than the people involved in the situation. So why does He still ask?
God uses questions to force us to confront our own hearts. He questions us not because He needs to know and understand something about what’s going on, but because He wants us to know and understand the truth of what’s going on. Through questions, God forces us to turn our gaze on ourselves, our hearts, and our motivations. He makes us look deeply into ourselves, knowing that He already knows, and then own up to that which we have either been unable or unwilling to see previously. In light of that, here are three questions God is still asking:
1. “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9).
God first asked Adam and Eve this question after they sinned in the garden. He wasn’t really asking for a location, as if He did not know where the first humans were. These people were created to live in fellowship with their Creator, and now they were hiding from Him. God wanted these people to own what had happened; to confess; to return to Him in faith. As He did in the garden, God might ask us, “Where are you?” not because He doesn’t know, but because He wants us to bring into the light the fear and shame that keeps us in hiding.
2. “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6).
Jesus asked this question to a man who had been sick for 38 years. For almost 4 decades, he had been lying by this pool, putting his hope in some old superstition about its magical qualities when it started to bubble. You would think the answer was an unequivocal “Yes! Of course I do!” But maybe not, because you can get accustomed to a lot of things in 38 years. Perhaps to accustomed to those circumstances that you development an attachment to them. Maybe, like the man, healing is available to us, but healing means letting go of what is familiar and comfortable. It means releasing ourselves totally to His care. It means trusting that He is better than whatever lifestyle we are currently clinging to.
3. “Why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31).
Peter got out of the boat. Despite the wind and waves, he walked on the water. But then he took his eyes of Jesus; he began to focus on what was around him, and when he did, he began to sink. But Jesus was there; he took Peter by the hand, lifted him up, and then asked this question. I suppose you might read this question as a chastisement, as if Jesus was shaking his head in disappointment out there in the middle of the sea. But I don’t think so. I think He asked this with more of a smile on his face, the same kind of look a father has for a child who is jumping out of a tree into his arms. The father securely grabs the nervous child, holds him tight, and says, “Did you really think I would drop you?”
Yes, Jesus is still asking this question. He’s asking us every time we are stuck in anxiety. Every time we fret about tomorrow. Every time we worry about the future. He smiles and reminds us that our Father knows how to give good gifts and take care of us. And that same Father gave the life of His Son on our behalf – how will He also not also along with Him give us all things? Why, in light of the cross and resurrection, would we doubt?
The Lord is still asking questions. Questions that bring us in line with His will. Questions that move us deeper into intimacy with Him. Let us embrace them. Answer them. And know that the Father asking them is only waiting for us to acknowledge what He already knows.