There is something odd about questions. The simple act of forming a question causes us to rethink the world. It forces us to put into words that which doesn’t seem right to us. Asking a question is giving life to that nagging feeling in the back of your head. Once it has been ask – whether verbally or silently in one’s own mind – that question takes on a life of its own. No longer is it a silent concept bouncing around in the background of one’s life. Now it is a fly buzzing around in front of you, causing you to stop what you are doing and pay attention to the issue of its choice.
Answers, on the other hand, are things of finality. Once an answer has been given, the question is laid to rest, no longer able to move around like it once did. You might even say that answers are made of lead as they tend to crush all that they touch. It doesn’t really matter what the answer is, whether it is a “right” or a “wrong” answer. Truth really doesn’t matter to an answer. No, the only thing that matters to an answer is that the question fly has been swatted and thrown into the trash as if it never was there.
The problem is that some flies are hard to kill. Rather than going softly into the night beyond, they arise from the darkness when least expected. Those questions are the hard ones. They are the ones that force the world to dance to their tune. They are the questions of questions. The ones that have no answer and, as such, become an answer in and of themselves.
When this happens, you know that you have stumbled upon something worthy of pursuing. It may sound strange in a society of answers, but not knowing can actually do more to free your soul than all the answers in the world. Learning to be conformable with unanswered questions means living a life of trust. We trust Jesus with our concerns and questions. We trust the Holy Spirit to guide and direct ourselves and those around us. We trust the Father with the future and what might or might not happen.
I understand that this might scare some of you as you are unsure if you can trust Jesus, the Spirit or God the Father. You have been hurt one too many times. I hear you as I’ve been there myself. Sometimes it is hard to trust the Creator. And that is okay. Part of being conformable with questions is embracing the doubt that comes with unanswered questions. Though I’ve heard otherwise, I firmly believe that God isn’t afraid of our doubts or questions. I can see Joseph the son of Jacob sitting in prison wondering if he really had a vision of folks bowing down to him (Genesis 37-40). I can see the prophet Jeremiah sitting in the mud at the bottom of the well with his knees up to his chest while waves of emotions swept over him (Jeremiah 38:1-13).
Doubt and questions are common to all humans. Rather than denying that we have such emotions, I believe we should embrace them. Let’s own them and be real with ourselves and those around us. When we do that, when we speak them out…well, that is when we find freedom as we find that there are others around us with the same questions and doubts. We are not alone; there are others walking this path with us, before us, and after us. Together we can follow the words of Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, in being “merciful to those who doubt” while building ourselves up in our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit and remembering the stories of old (Jude 20-23, NIV).
Joseph, for example, eventually was released from prison with his dream coming true. Jeremiah was pulled out from the well by those who believed and trusted him. Perhaps this is why the Scriptures tell us to continue in our fellowship with others even though it may be painful (Hebrews 10:23-25). We need each other to remind ourselves of the faithfulness of Jesus throughout the ages. We need to tell the stories of how Jesus moved through his people in spite of their doubts and unanswered questions.