We had come away for a few days, away from people who knew us, away from the telephone, away from questions. The snow was deep, and pushing along on cross-country skis was more work than usual. The beauty of mountain peaks and of flaming sunset colors filled our minds with a variety of thoughts. We reached a bench in front of a rock on which was inscribed a quotation from Nietzsche, and we sat there for a few minutes talking about this man. His yearning for—or as he put it, “lusting for”—eternity made us hurt for one whose questions were never answered with truth.

Suddenly two people walked up to gaze at the rock and began talking in German about its inscription. Although we had come away from people, human contact lay before us like a log ready to be kindled with the tiniest touch of a flaming match! The conversation begun there was resumed late that evening over coffee. The man, an official in the Swiss government, had been a complete stranger to us before that sunset moment of “chance meeting.” He was full of questions.

People of all ages, backgrounds, educations, and ways of life are full of questions from childhood to the grave. They ask questions as they chew a blade of grass, or sit on a park bench, ride on a train, or wash dishes. Why? How? When? Honest answers are important to human beings.

The next day as we pushed up a hill in silence I was suddenly hit with what we had read from Isaiah that morning. “Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?” (Isa. 55:2). God asks questions! I had never thought of this so vividly before. How often do we stop and ponder God’s questions, seeking for absolute honesty in our answers to him? God’s questions are penetratingly directed to each one of us. No matter where we are, deep in a coal mine or atop a snow-covered mountain, alone or in the midst of a crowd, walking down a city street or rushed with business in office or farm, God’s questions are constantly being asked. Why? Why are we spending money for that which is not bread, working day after day for that which isn’t satisfying us? God expects us to answer.

As I continued to slide and push along on my skis, I thought of other questions God asks us, and was eager to get back to my Bible to begin looking them up. How often had I, I wondered, spent time honestly considering God’s questions? How often had I attempted to give him an honest answer?

And he saith unto them, why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26). What were the circumstances? Wild wind and waves beating against a not very strong boat with men in it getting wet and cold, wondering if the next moment they would be in the surging water. A time to feel fear? Why not? What could prevent the fear? The question Jesus is asking penetrates the surface realities to a deeper fact—he was in the boat with them. The fact that the Second Person of the Trinity, the Creator of the wind and water, was there was a reason to examine the source of their fear. Although he immediately rebuked the sea and brought a great calm, the question hung in the air, needing an answer. Is he in the boat with us also? Does not this question come to us time after time when the ship rocks?

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“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:31). Peter had had his cry answered and the Lord indeed had put out his hand and saved Peter from sinking, but the question is asked of Peter and of us in the midst of the supply of a need: “Why?” Why didn’t we demonstrate our trust when the great opportunity was there?

This brings us to another question to Peter, and to us: “But whom say ye that I am?” (Matt. 16:16). Peter answered clearly: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Among all the false answers that were flying thick and fast in those days and have increased in variety and quantity ever since, Peter’s answer—and ours, if it is the same—brings the gratifying response: “Blessed art thou. Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). Pushing aside such a question is unwise. In the next verse Jesus gives us something to consider along with the question: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” What gain could balance the loss of one’s soul? How high a price would make such an exchange valuable? Every person is involved in the consequences of action based on his answer to this question that God has so clearly asked.

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Luke 6:41) This is a question that the Lord asks us to consider over and over again, each time we begin to judge or criticize without first praying to have our own blind spot removed. What is our answer?

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God asked Abraham why Sarah had laughed, and then asked, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14). The same question was put to Jeremiah: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27). Is our answer real? Are we just repeating a Scripture verse by memory or do we plead that God remove our veneer and make us solid all the way through when we answer with Jeremiah’s assertion, “Ah, Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”

“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.… Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?” (Job 38:4, 21). A whole series of questions came from God to Job, and they are to us, too. Do we understand the treasures of the snow? Can we fathom such diversity of creation as the fact that no two snowflakes are alike? Job’s strong answer came in Job 42:2: “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.” What is our personal answer in our conversation with God as we consider these questions, his Word in question form, sharper than any two-edged sword?

God’s first recorded question, as far as I know, was to Adam: “Where art thou?” Adam was in the place of having just fallen into Satan’s trap. Satan has a false answer ready to put into our minds whenever we consider one of God’s questions to us. But honest answers are important to God.

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