I grew up in a highly conformist culture. Asking questions was not encouraged. I remembered once in high school; I asked my chemistry teacher a why question, “ Why do we need to memorize the periodic table of elements?” She was surprised and vexed about that question and said, “We just memorize it! ” You guessed right, no more questions afterward. You would fit in the environment better if you simply did what you were told.
However, I found my Christian faith in the university by asking questions.“Is atheism believed by the majority around me superior to the belief of Christianity? Why did most developed countries claim to call their history Christian history? ” These questions eventually led me to Christ. Without them, I would never be where I am today.
One thing about this newfound faith thrilled me deeply was that “God isn’t afraid of questions; He encourages it,” they said. I loved it. I may not have a lot at the age of 19, but I never ran out of questions. For the first time, I felt the sense of validation for holding much space for questions, in God.
Later, I learned, to ask a good question is to grow. Irving E. Sigel, a pioneer in the study of children’s intellectual development, believed that our brain responds to questions in ways that we now describe as social, emotional, and cognitive development. Questions create the challenges that make us learn.
Sometimes, complacency creeps in when we stay in an environment for a long time. Our human nature tends to avoid asking questions even we feel something’s off, mainly for fearing of an unpleasant answer. We don’t like changes. We prefer things remain the same. Unfortunately, we often forget the only thing that remains unchanged is the change itself. Life is never stagnant.
When I transitioned from a charismatic international mission non-profit environment to a Chinese Biblical seminary, the only things I found in common was that they both call themselves Christians and read the same bible (with different translations though). The drastic contrast of the two environments raised so many questions in me about the church, God, the interpretation of the scriptures, and doctrines. Those were very challenging questions and widely stretched my brain and my spiritual muscles. Though hard, I was glad I went through it. Because if I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be able to question what I once firmly believed and found a new perspective. There are many different possibilities and expressions in living out the life pleasing to God. Being a missionary or a pastor isn’t the ultimate route of loving God.
Today, the world is reshaping in many ways because of Covid-19. And many of us were forced into reimagining our work and lifestyle. It’s never been a better time than this to use the birthright of asking questions.
What is most important to my family and me? Is what I pursue and believe in sustainable in the face of crisis? Is my marriage strong enough for the uncertain future and financial strain? How can I improve it? If today is the last day to live, how would I live in it? Are my decisions made out of fear or love? Can I work fewer hours and spend more time taking care of myself and being with my family? Could there be a new way of working, providing for the family other than feeling burnout all the time?
Jesus once asked a blind man who boldly called on him for mercy, “What do you want me to do for you?” It was a question that brought him to the edge of the painful reality and leaped for the possible miracle, a new way of seeing and living, with utter vulnerability.
Sometimes, we receive not is because we ask not. What if the life you desire to live is just a question away?
Are you happy about where you are today? Could there be more life for you? Would you be open and ask yourself some questions? One question may lead to more questions, but it may also lead to a better storyline that you didn’t even know possible.