The Wrong Question

Sometimes, teachers begin the school year with a lie:

“The only dumb question is the one you never ask!”

Of course, I’m speaking a little tongue in cheek. We know what they mean. But we also know–often by experience–that foolish questions are often asked loud and clear.

Have you ever asked God a “dumb” question? A fellow seminary student pointed one out in Isaiah 58:3 (although “dumb” is probably the wrong word):

Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?

On the surface, it looks like a fair question: “God, we’ve been bending over backwards in order to get your attention–why aren’t you noticing us?” It seems as though a merciful and gracious God would quickly come to the aid of those who are calling on his name, right?

But a moment’s reflection will show that such a question is nothing more than wicked self-deceit, and so it collapses on itself. Think about what the questioners were saying:

  • We’ve fasted–deprived ourselves–so why haven’t you indulged us?
  • We’ve afflicted ourselves–weren’t you supposed to pay us back with comforts?
  • We’ve humbled ourselves [the literal meaning of the word “afflicted”]–weren’t we doing a good enough job?

Of course, true humility (not that I’m an expert) is at the very least a recognition that God owes us nothing at all. Yet don’t we often go through our religious duties–at times in apparent humility–all the while  adding up in our minds how much God ought to bless us for all our efforts? Think about it. What kind of attitude did you tend to have the last time your good choices gave way to yet another hardship? Bitterness? Frustration with God?

So we’re not really all that humble, are we? To approach God expecting to cash in on the blessings He owes us for, well, recognizing that He doesn’t owe us anything doesn’t even make sense.

The apostle Paul asks a better question:

And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? (2 Cor. 4:7)

We are the beneficiaries of unsurpassed and undeserved grace. Even the pride that wants to deny that fact is the very thing for which Christ died. And in spite of the fact that we still harbor such thoughts, God loves us like He loves His own Son.

How can it be?
How can it be
That God should love a soul like me?
O how can it be?

One Response

  1. Wow – I totally got that. I am learning that it has everything to do with our heart attitude. God loves us and wants to bless us but He owes us nothing. I can not perform for His blessing. Even if I had not another happy day the rest of my life – God is no less good. Trying to wrap my heart and mind around that truth.

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