On the door of a Boston University professor hangs a cartoon of two turtles in discussion about God. One says, “I’d like to ask why he allows poverty, famine and injustice when he could quite obviously do something about it.” The other turtle responds, “I’m afraid God might ask me the same question!” Study the Scriptures and you will discover that God is always asking questions. Consider all the questions asked of Job by God. Job was wondering if God was the cosmic sadist he appeared to be. It’s not until the end of the book that God finally shows up with the answer – in the form of a series of questions. He asks Job, “Who are you?” “Are you God?” Did you write the script of the story?” “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

Jesus had a question-wielding habit as well. One of the most surprising things I discovered in reading the Gospels is that they report Jesus as asking questions more often than not. The Gospel of Mark is the first of the gospels to be written. There are 67 narratives in which there is any sort of conversation at all. Within those 67 narratives we have 50 questions asked by Jesus. And that pattern holds up in the rest of the Gospels. Another way to think of it is this: if you met Jesus on the street, he was more likely to ask you something than to tell you something.

What I love most about the story of Job is that when Job realizes the answers to all that God asked him was no, he was satisfied. What? Job was satisfied with questions instead of answers? Yes, because in those questions God showed himself to Job. If God had responded to each of Job’s questions with an answer, that would mean that Job could dialogue and ask God another question. God would give him another good answer and Job would ask another question the next day and the day after that and the day following that. This would go on and on and potentially never end. What made it end? God’s presence. To quote Lee Stobel, “God didn’t let Job suffer because he lacked love but because he did love . In order to bring Job to the point of encountering God face to face, which is humanity’s supreme happiness, Job’s suffering hollowed out a big space in him so that God and joy could fill it.”

One of my favorite Christian books as a young adult was Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. I recently came across a well-worn paperback copy while emptying my Mom’s place in rural New York. From the depths of despair in a Nazi prison camp at the height of the Holocaust, she penned these words: “No matter how deep our darkness, he is deeper still.” Selah.

 

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