a different way to learn...
I've been thinking a lot about how the way of Jesus and His Kingdom is often completely opposite to that of the world. Just when I think that I have figured out the way that God is going to do something or show up a certain way or answer that question, He flips the script. He does a new thing, a different thing. It says that God uses the weak to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27). The Jews begged for a Rescuing King and they got a crucified and beaten man. All throughout the Scriptures we can see how God tends to move differently than we anticipate and most of the time, we love it. Or at least, maybe we just love it in the Bible because we know the end of the story. We know that the crucified man rose again three days later. But it just makes me wonder how if that is the way God was in the Bible, then why don't I assume that will be the way He is with me today?
Let me explain. I was talking with some classmates earlier this semester in my group counseling class about how hard it is to be in the position of asking God for something over and over again. We talked about how often our intent of asking can easily slip from question to demand when God doesn't give us what we want. And then I read this quote --
“It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he’ll look for his own answers. That way, when he finds the answers, they’ll be precious to him. The harder the question, the harder we hunt. The harder we hunt, the more we learn.”
And I realized... Sure, God's ways are higher than my ways, and He might respond in a way that I didn't expect (or pray for). And yes, God works in a backward way to the world and uses a prostitute to rescue the leaders of Israel (Joshua 2). But I wonder how often God's intent when we are asking questions, is not to answer because sometimes the lack of answer is the real thing that we needed.
I've been reading this wonderful book called Meant for Good that talks about how Jesus asked 307 questions Himself, and He was asked 183 questions and of those, He only answered three questions directly. The author says, "The One who had the answer to every single question was less interested in giving the answers and more interested in getting people to engage with Him, listen, think, and respond. He was far more interested in relationship than dishing out answers" (p. 11).
If the One who is our example lived His life in this way, isn't that how we should be living too? Rather than feeling the pressure to answer every question or have every questioned answered, maybe we can embrace this way of Jesus and make our home in the realm of unknown.
Just this past week, I was teaching the first and second graders in Sunday school and they started asking me questions about how God is the Trinity. I was just finishing up a whole semester of studying the doctrine of the Trinity and yet, when a couple second graders kept asking me "But how? How is He three?" I was stumped. I ended up affirming again and again that this is where faith comes in and that the fact that we can't understand God is only more reason to trust Him. But it felt like not enough. I felt like I was letting them down and surely I should've understood this concept better to be able to explain it. Until I re-read my words that I'd written a couple weeks ago.
For some reason, when it comes to my own questions and answers between me and God, it is frustrating but it is manageable. Whenever it is with someone else and I can't answer their questions or help them find the answers, I feel like I have failed. But God never said that was my job. God never said that I was meant to have all the answers to all the questions. In fact, God gave me the example of how to answer questions through Jesus... that is, to not. If there were 307 questions asked of Jesus, and He answered 3 directly and 183 with another question, that still leaves 121 questions without any answer at all.
So when we cannot get the answer, we make our peace with the reminder of who He is. He's the God of an upside-down kingdom who likes to do things His own way. And this is one way that we get to partner with Him. And maybe, the search for the answer is the answer in itself.
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Hi there! My name is Alicia and I am the Children's ministry intern. I'm currently studying biblical counseling at Dallas Theological Seminary and I am so passionate about helping to bridge the gap between theology and psychology! I love writing and tend to think in pictures and I'm praying that this can be a space where you can find grace and experience Jesus and feel less alone. Much love!! Xoxo, Alicia