Are you looking to encourage someone in their faith right now? Sometimes it is more helpful to ask simple questions that encourage a thoughtful response, than it is to offer pat answers. That is how Jesus ministered to countless people from every imaginable background–He asked questions to start a conversation, to respond to those questioning His authority or to help individuals think more broadly.* Here are a few examples:
- He opened up a conversation with the socially rejected Samaritan woman at the well with, “Will you give me drink?” before delivering insights on the necessity of worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth.(John 4:7b-26)
- Speaking to a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6b)
- When He saw a great crowd coming toward Him, Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” before feeding the five thousand. (John 6:5b)
- In Matthew 16 Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Verses 15, 16)
All were ordinary questions that led to powerful, one-on-one shepherding opportunities. What is amazing is that those same questions continue to challenge hearts and minds in a multitude of ways. It is at the feet of Jesus that we learn that,
A thoughtfully crafted question can make far greater mileage toward helping others than a pat answer.
Be you a caring friend, a neighbor or a family member, to ask simple questions can be an important part of building courage and character in others. Well put questions not only provide helpful information and understanding for the listener, but often can help the one in need to examine their heart.
But what about when we are the ones asking God questions? Do our questions impact how God responds to us? ABSOLUTELY! Personal experience has taught me,
- When we ask God, “Why?” because we doubt His goodness, very often His response is to ask another rather disconcerting question: “Will you trust Me in this?”
- During those times when He calls us to forgive, but we are fearful (or just plain resistant) and ask Him, “What if it happens again?” We may feel stonewalled when things get quiet, or be tempted to think He has not heard us or does not care as that same disconcerting question hangs in the air--“Will you trust Me in this?”
Several years ago I found myself in turmoil over God’s call to trust Him after experiencing deep hurt. For weeks I begged for answers to my, “Why did you allow this to happen?” I dug my heels into the ground when called to forgive as I demanded, “What if it happens again?” The silence from the Throne was deafening . . . .
Yet, I can still remember the day everything changed . . . the moment when I let go of my demanding “whys” and “what ifs” and instead asked the simple question, “HOW” was I to trust again? The answer was delivered to me so quickly when I opened my Bible, that it took my breath away! Here is what I read,
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 4:31-5:2)
That day I learned that the attitude of the heart very much determines God’s answer to us. Indeed, simple questions asked in the love and humility of Christ Jesus, can open up fresh insights that are not of this world.
All to His Glory!
* Check out 135 Questions Jesus Asked for an interesting list of His questions.