Why ask why?

Picture this.

A one and a half-year-old standing on a chair at the head of a dining table. Sticky bare chest. Little belly. Runny nose. Staring frankly into the faces of his confused family, fully expecting an answer to his one-word question, “WHY?” Well it sounded more like, “Vvvv-why!?” After all, he wasn’t quite two.

You see, he only knew a few other words aside from the word of choice that evening, Vvv-why?!”

 

It is important to understand that this one word equated to an entire complex sentence, a loaded inquiry, a question we could not understand but were fully expected to answer, “Vvv-why?”

 

As he belted out his new word, my baby brother leaned over, dumped a box of coupons on the table, and scattered them with his hands and, inadvertently, his sticky bare chest, all while screeching “Vvv-why? He lifted his tiny hands and shoulders in a dramatic demonstration of the word and with a little baby shrug again asked, “Vvv-why?!”

 

Finally, once he completed his award-winning Shakespearean re-enactment, my mom responded, “Yes! Why?!” As if to say, “I have the same question. Why are you sliding across my dinner table? Why did you dump out a box of freshly clipped coupons? And why are you yelling at the top of your lungs? “WHY?”

 

Silence.

Dramatic silence.

Amused silence.

Comical silence.

 

.50 cent off a box of Malt-O-Meal coupon adhered to his sticky belly, he has our undivided attention.

Fully satisfied that he received a response, any response, he stopped and without further dialogue we returned to our regularly scheduled program.  

 

 

Let’s not pretend that toddlers are the only ones who bellow out incomprehensible questions for which no answer would truly ever suffice. They pose questions that they hardly understand themselves but fully expect others to answer.

 Like this professional inquirer, we too catapult questions in God’s direction. Questions that we don’t quite understand but to which we fully expect a response. Preferably a response in our favor.

It has been my observation that our questions to God reveal so much more about God than they reveal about us and our own circumstance.

 

We ask existential questions like…

Why me? Why not them? Why now? Why not then? Why this? Why that? Why hurt? Why pain? Why distance? Why loss? Why suffering?

 

And as we lean in, intently waiting for an acceptable response, we are reminded of the things that we are gifted with and gleefully receive without question. Like…

Our health. Our child. Our spouse. Our peace. Our laughter. That breath. That other breath. That sound. That taste. That feeling. That memory. That insight. That home. That answered prayer. That unexpected miracle. That moment.

 

Suddenly our reflections begin to reveal God’s character, like…

God is taller than our highest mountain and deeper than our lowest valley. God shines brightest in our darkness. God’s love is eternal. God’s grace is sufficient. God is not afraid of your anger and can handle our disappointment. God’s is beyond time, space and age. I am God’s beloved.

 

As we use our questions to dig deeper for life’s meaning, may God’s goodness be revealed, our memories be refreshed and our joy be renewed.

Dr. Monique Williams