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Questions are found all through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, highlighting a variety of people asking them, including the Son of God and a snake! Those who answer the questions often bring unexpected responses. Of course, some are rhetorical; the answer is already known and merely requires remembering. When the snake asked Eve questions, he was testing her belief in God’s veracity and her faith in God’s words. She remembered God’s command but failed to obey, suffering consequences. We all know the story, probably from childhood. We listened and were left wondering why she couldn’t do the right thing since she had a plethora of fruit trees to choose from. Anyone identifying with this? Do excuses make the sin go away?

As we continue to read through the chapters and books, we can observe ways questions so poignant could stop those being questioned in their path. Questions such as God’s to Adam are still relevant today: “Where art thou?” Well, to answer that correctly, we have to examine our detour and recognize that we, too, try to hide when we’ve done wrong. Jesus’ first recorded words in the New Testament—also a question—pinpoint his parents’ lack of understanding that He (Jesus) was someone much more than an average child.

Returning to the book of Genesis, we see God questions Cain in chapter 4 verse 6. “Why are you angry? Why is your countenance fallen? … If you do well, will you not be accepted?” God then warns Cain of sin in his life. We know that the consequence was death! Cain kills his brother Abel. Questions can notify us that we’re in trouble and can cause us to stop long enough to change our ways.

Years ago, as I taught elementary grades, I used questions with the hope of bringing the student to recognition of their offense and willingness to the right thing. I would ask, “What did you do?” That question was intended to allow the child to admit, to confess the wrong before seeking forgiveness and to see the need for being forgiven. If the student did not confess, I would then instruct him/her to stay inside and miss recess until they could remember what happened. Excuses didn’t omit the punishment, but remembering the fault and facing it would relieve them to go out to play. What relief and joy visibly came on their faces when they were allowed to go!

This technique follows the way the Lord handled Cain’s grievous action. God asks Cain, “Where is your brother?” And, “What have you done?” Cain lies in response. Cain also asks a question in response that still resonates today. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9,10)

Questioning continues as we move along into the story of Abram and we see that Sarai questions God’s promise that she will bear a child. In fact, her lack of faith causes her to laugh!

God’s great promises seem so supernatural that we may find ourselves also laughing! God’s great power to bring the impossible into our lives can seek out layers of unbelief.

As we turn to the New Testament, we find James’ admonishment to Christ’s believers. “You have not because you ask not!” We are instructed to believe and ask! Asking based on faith brings answers that surprise and overwhelm us. Internal questions can bombard us. “Is this a miraculous act of God, or mere coincidence?” To pray in faith is to ask and keep on asking! God is not disturbed by our questions, but He does know what they represent. He knows when we simply do not believe but hope that by asking we might receive.

- Grace Booth

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