Naming the Question
___ posted June 12, 2012 by Ben Burkholder
A couple of weekends ago, I was with some acquaintances talking theology over dinner. During the course of the conversation, I shared a list of theological questions with which I had been wrestling for quite some time. While my conversation partners did not offer any silver bullet answers to my quandaries, I walked away feeling a sense of relief. At first, I was not sure why I had this sense of relief, but upon further reflection it became apparent that how we live with and ask our questions makes all the difference in the world.
For months I had stewed over my questions, mulled them over in my head hoping that I would be able to answer them on my own. However, the longer I kept these questions inside of me, the more burdensome they became. Gradually, these questions made me cynical because, if I could not answer these questions through rigorous study, then no one else could either. Without my noticing, I found myself imploding under the weight of the questions, unable to reach out for help because I did not believe anyone could help me.
Something broke loose within my heart that night I started sharing my questions with my friends. I realized that I had been keeping my questions to myself and I had actually been using them as security to insulate the skeptical stance of my own heart. In fact, I had stopped searching for the answer since my questions had turned into props for my doubt. However, when I was able to name the questions that I had, my heart began a different movement. Instead of being ensconced in a haughty air of skepticism, it was actually grasping out to others. More importantly it was moving toward the one who offers the healing for which our hearts long. By naming the question, I was moving toward Jesus. In doing so, I was making the words of a former follower of Jesus my own: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Faith can coexist with questions and doubt. It is ultimately a matter of how we are using these questions and whether we reach out to God because of them or push Him away.
At various points in our journeys with God we are going to confront questions that challenge our faith. For some it may be a question about why God allowed a particularly painful event to rock their world. For others it might be an intellectual question where one tries to establish the reliability of Scripture or any other key affirmation of the Christian faith. While we might wish we could tread this journey without facing such questions, having faith does not mean there are no questions; it means that we trust in the midst of the questions and contingencies of life.