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Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
(Isaiah 50:10)

Remember how your maths teachers used to insist that the working out was as important as the answer? Long ago, in the golden age of Greek philosophy, Socrates recognized that people learn best by finding out things for themselves. The ‘Socratic’ style of teaching asks questions in such a way as to help people see truth for themselves. The Lord often does something similar.

Much of our hearing comes when we ask God questions. It sometimes feels, however, as though He answers our questions at a tangent – or even sidesteps them altogether.

When Jesus told His country-dwelling disciples that not one stone of Herod’s great Temple would be left on top of each other, the disciples were puzzled and asked Him what He meant.[1] Jesus embarked on a wide-ranging overview of the end times. This was no politician ducking an awkward question: this was the Lord introducing His future leaders to themes that would be crucial for the Body of Christ to incorporate into their worldview, both for themselves and for the generations to come.

In the course of his intense suffering, Job asked God many hard questions. The Lord made no attempt to “justify” Himself: instead, when He shows up at the end of the book, He asked Job a harder set of questions. I find it particularly striking how many times He refers to animals that can be of no possible use to mankind – indeed, which are often hostile to us.

It is as though the Lord was saying through the questions He asked, ‘Look Job, I made these creatures. You cannot tame or harness them. You know next to nothing about them, and can’t begin to imagine where how they fit in, but they still have a place in My scheme of things.’[2]

Have you noticed how the Lord often chooses to draw out our understanding rather than telling us too quickly or too directly how to proceed or what to believe – just as He set Philip a seemingly impossible task in John 6:5-6 in order to test him: ‘Where shall we buy bread for these [huge numbers of] people to eat?

For Reflection and Prayer

When we feel as though circumstances are crowding in and besetting us on all sides, we should by all means seek the Lord as to what is going on. He loves it when we ask Him questions – especially when they stem from a desire to be prophetic in our outlook rather than from anxiety or fretfulness. But we must always be prepared for Him to ask us questions in return, just as His answer to Philip stretched and tested his faith!

Lord, help me not to become discouraged
when You appear to be slow – reluctant even –
to give straightforward answers to the questions I bombard You with.
Thank You that You know exactly what steps to take,
and the right order in which to do them.
Teach me more to trust Your character,
even when I cannot discern Your leading.

Refs

1  Mark 13:2
2 Job 38-42.