Why do we keep asking the same dumb questions, over and over again?
When something bad happens, we ask ‘why?’ When a love interest rejects us, we ask ‘what did I do?’ When someone dies, we ask ‘what did he ever do to deserve that?’
Has anyone, ever, in this entire world, found and answer to any of those questions, at least as they pertain to such situations? Someone once said that madness is defined by ‘doing the same thing again and again, while always expecting a different result’.
Could folly – the state through which the otherwise sane man feigns madness – be described thus: repeatedly asking the same pointless question, all the while hoping that said question will miraculously lead to a point?
I suspect that it could indeed be defined thus. So why do we do it, this asking of the unanswerable questions?
I have always held it to be a self-evident truth that wisdom lies not in the answer, but rather in the question. Happiness lies not in the perfection of one’s life, but in one’s perfect ability to accept life it as it given. Truth lies not in completeness of knowledge, but in the humility to accept that one does not always understand.
Wisdom, happiness, and truth lie in letting go of one’s cognitive need to understand and control everything. Misery lies in clinging to that need – and it is from misery, I think, that all of those silly questions stem.
When something bad, something unforeseen happens, we ask ‘why?’ My car broke. Why? My dog died. Why? My siblings hate my guts. Why?
No answers. Never will be, not really. One could answer, ‘your car broke because it was old, and your dog died because she had cancer, and your siblings hate your guts because you were always a @$&!…’
But those answers are insufficient, because while they are literal and in that sense ‘correct’, they lack any real power to help us come to terms with our world – and so we look for answers even beyond these, hoping for solace.
We don’t find ’em, of course.
But try these… My car broke. How much patience can I summon, lest this ultimately trivial event damage my peace of mind? My dog died. Can I discover the courage to love another animal just as deeply, rather than becoming permanently saddened by the loss of this one? My siblings hate my guts. Can I now manage my other relationships better, so that they won’t turn out badly?
Those questions all lead to answers. Those questions will challenge you, molding you into the person you never dared hope to become. Those questions will pull out your innermost strengths while pushing your weaknesses into the abyss in which they belong. Someone who romantically interested you spurns your attempts at getting to know him/her. Why?
Why?… or, am I decent enough person to treat him/her with the respect that he/she deserves, regardless? That question has an answer. What’s more, it will eventually land you the mate you seek, because everyone respects integrity.
I had a chat recently with a friend, someone whose company I enjoy a great deal. She brought up the Book of Revelation, with its ‘doom and gloom’ prophecies of the Apocalypse.
Entire cults have been built around trying to figure out what the Book of Revelation is talking about. Is it referring to the end of the world? The fall of Rome? Which parts are figurative, exactly, and which parts are meant to be taken literally?
Impossible to figure out. No one can. Anyone who says he can is a liar. What does it all mean, this grandiose, apocalyptic final chapter of God’s Word?
I thought not.
Try this one: what can I learn from it?
Ah, there we find answers in abundance! Revelation, written during the most brutal persecution that the Lord’s church has ever suffered, contains a touching message of hope and love unending for the believer. You will suffer hideously, God seems to say, but only for a while… and in the end, I will be waiting for you.
Often overlooked is the obvious fact that Revelation is the sequel to the Gospel of John. John’s Gospel is an epic of ‘Braveheart’-like proportions, boldly unveiling Christ as the Son of God.
But John’s Gospel is incomplete, for only in Revelation does he unveil Jesus of Nazareth not only as the Son of God, but as God Himself.
Earlier scriptural passages say such things as, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ Then it says ‘the Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us’.
Then, at the very end of the scripture, this selfsame Jesus-Word stands up and declares ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End!’ And then… that is the end. While Genesis paints a sordid portrait of Paradise Lost, Revelation reveals a future in which Paradise is regained.
All this is obvious and very, very comforting, as well as edifying to those whom God has called as His own. But asking why? will only blind your eyes to all of it, and you’ll wind up like those half-baked Pentecostals, spewing a bunch of ‘prophecies’ and ranting about some imaginary, miraculous ‘rapture’.
Perhaps this is the problem with Christianity – even the tiny remnant that really is Christ’s, not the ‘whitewashed tombs’ found on every street corner, under a host of denominational names. We keep asking the wrong questions.
Many ask, internally at least, where are the miracles around me, the ones that will prove my faith for me?
No answer. Try this one: Now that God has opened my eyes, where do I see the miracles that have always been? Salvation lies not so much in God proving Himself, so much as in revealing to you that which He has already proven. I know one particular self-appointed philosopher, whose philosophy is defined by his rants attacking the idea of God. Goodness and peace lie ‘within oneself’, he insists. Sure they do, man. Sure they do.
I see. He does not. It’s not because I am wise or particularly enlightened, but simply because I was taught the right questions. He, however, is gonna keep right on ranting and not making any sense, until he learns to ask the right questions.
Why? is seldom right. Neither is what does it mean?, usually. Learning something new is not about seeking until one finds the right answer. It’s about letting your questions evolve, until they begin pointing toward the answers that were always there. There is no such thing as a wrong answer; there are only answers preceded by a wrong question.
What does it mean? And Why? should only ever be answered one way…
Who cares?Now go find another question!