Friday, May 8, 2009

I'm Just Asking a Question

“Jim, what are you doing?”
“I’m asking a question.”
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, on meeting “God”

“God may well slay me; I may have no hope. Yet I will argue my case before God.”
—Job 13:15

I’ve heard two people recently point to something good in their lives and give God thanks for it, along the lines of “God knew I needed this.” And while I am happy for their good fortune, I wonder if they have taken time to go the next step: if God knew they needed it, what does mean when someone else, someone equally loved and valued by God, does not receive the thing that is needed? God knew you needed it. Does God not know that she needs it too?

Even though I wish it were otherwise, a large part of me still believes the lie that God’s love is equal to God’s provision for me. God loves me, therefore good things happen to me. Bad things happen and I am thrown into doubt. God has not provided. I know the key to what we are promised is God’s presence with us, not abundance or smooth sailing or anything of the sort. “In this world you will have trouble.” That is what we are told.

But I want to ask God a question. I want to know how we are supposed to believe he is with us, trust that he has not forgotten us when all the evidence points to the contrary. I want to ask God: “Where are you? Where are you for all the voices that even this night are crying out for relief from sickness, sorrow, and suffering? Where are you? And why don’t you do something?”

I’m just asking a question. I am made bold by biblical companions like Job, the Talmudic tradition of arguing with God, and even the modern-day example of Captain Kirk. What am I doing? I am asking God a question. I don’t expect an answer. Just, for a while, to burn with the words I need to ask. And to hope, as a friend reminded me with a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, that I am able to “love the questions themselves” and trust that one day I will “gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”


Angela said...

i've recently had some amazing things come my way after some years of pretty tough times and what has been surprisingly difficult is the "how" of receiving them. i've spent a long time trying to make peace with god sending me grief; trying to make peace with joy again has got me all turned around.
i've held onto that rilke quote for awhile now. the idea of answers emerging as our lives emerge is so much kinder than the idea of an answer just sitting there, smugly waiting for me to find it.

(natalie cook sent me here. this is a good place to be. thanks.)

Rebecca Warren said...

Thanks, Angela. I can definitely relate to what you say. Smug answers do not interest me either!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts...

Radical Believer said...

Exactly this question came up in our Alpha group this evening. We were thinking about prayer and the different ways that God answers. we also got to considering what prayer achieves. For me, prayer is an expression of trust in God and I trust that he can handle me asking "Why?" and "Why not?" questions. I also trust him to listen as I pour out my pain, my angst and my grievances. Sometimes he says, "You know, that's how I feel about it too." Even then, he doesn't always do what I think he should.

Rebecca Warren said...

This post has been removed by the author.

Rebecca Warren said...

I agree that we should not be afraid to ask "why?" and that God can definitely handle it, whether we are asking from grief or joy. Sometimes joy is harder in a strange way, but I understand that.

Thank you, Angela and Tony. Your comments came as not only encouragement to me that someone actually reads what I write here but also an "answer" of sorts. Bless you both.

Rain said...

this reminds me of the Sara Groves song, "What I thought I wanted", among other things . . .

maybe I'm too tired right now to ponder/share further, but please. people ARE reading.

Anonymous said...

Our questions are holy. Some of them we'll live with until the grave.


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