I present to you three assumptions about life: (1) In life, as a general rule, it is good to ask questions. (2) The main reason for this is that often times when you ask questions you find answers. (3) This is good, because answers are intrinsically good, because truth is intrinsically good.

Take for example the famous question, “Will you marry me?” If you never ask the question, you will never receive an answer. If you never receive an answer, you never move on toward new and rewarding futures. You may ask, what if they say no? This is a great question about the aforementioned question. If they say no, then you are on your way to new, albeit temporarily difficult truth. Perhaps the timing is just wrong. Perhaps they are afraid of commitment. Perhaps they are not in love with you. No matter, they all lead to better futures. If the timing is wrong, you can then ask why, and discover why. With that information you can adjust your plans accordingly. If they are afraid of commitment you can ask why. Maybe you’ll discover that they need to work through some things in their past. You will both grow as a result of this. If it is something they can heal from, you will likely grow closer together into a better future. If not, you can accept the temporal pain of breaking up in exchange for escaping a future likely full of the deep sadness that comes from a long term broken relationship. The same is true if you learn that they don’t love you. Better to have truth now, and deal with the pain now, then build your life on foundations of lies which almost certainly lead to your future destruction. Truth is good. It can be very difficult, but it certainly leads to what is best.

So back to questions then. If we want truth we need to get answers. If we want answer we need to ask questions. If we are going to ask questions, we need to get unafraid. Too many people are afraid of asking questions. They are afraid of looking stupid. They are afraid of the answer. They are afraid of the social pressures that come with asking a question others don’t really want answered. If we want to live full meaningful lives though, we need to get past this. We need to love truth more than we fear questions.

My son asks me all kinds of questions. At five years old, he has no fear. What happens when we die? Will you die daddy? May I have ice cream? Does a man flip switches to turn the traffic lights red? What happens to people who don’t love Jesus? Will you play with me? How much longer are you going to be working for?

Every one of these questions is a question he has asked me. Each one of these questions is useful. The question about the traffic lights, and questions like these, help us to understand reality. They help us to make sense of our environments. They grow our personal data-base of knowledge. The questions about having ice cream, or about me playing with him: These are great questions. How many of us do not have because we refuse to ask? I don’t always say yes to the ice cream question. But I do sometimes. Same goes to playing with him. I can’t always drop everything to do this, but sometimes I can. Most of us would be far better off if we could clearly ask for things that we want. Understand, that I am not suggesting that meaning and joy in this life come simply from getting everything we want. In fact, sometimes that which we want isn’t good, and can cause a great amount of stress and pain. Still, as a general principle, having the clarity of thought to understand what we want and precisely ask for it is a good thing.

Now, what about those heavier questions? I remember having those questions as a child. I also remember some of the answers. “You don’t have to think about dying, it’s a long ways away.” I’m not sure that is a helpful answer. When my son asked if I was going to die, I simply said “Yes, some day. Every living thing on earth dies.” My son then had follow up questions, and he learned more. These heavy questions are where life really gets good. It get’s good because not having answers to these questions leaves us only with fear, anxiety, and a constant drive towards escapism. We take on the attitude of “lets not talk or think about such things, they are too depressing.” This idea is a lie, and a very good one at that. It’s a very good one because there is a strong element of truth in it. It is true that dealing with hard questions can be emotionally grueling. The lie is in the conclusion of this idea: That to therefor have joy we have to escape ever grappling with the hard questions. This is not where joy comes from. In fact this is where the deepest pits of internal despair reside. The world is riff with examples of this:

Do I live a healthy life?
Can I really afford this thing that I want?
Do the people I fill my life with really care about me?
Am I using my money well?
Am I a hard worker?
Do I love the people in my life well?
Am I an addict of…?
Am I a good person?
Where did the cosmos come from?
Is there a God?
If there is, who is He?
Was Jesus God?
Is the Bible really God’s word?
What happens when I die?

A person who is willing to ask questions like these in search of truth, as apposed to what they wish to be true, is a person with a future full of joy and meaning.

As a very practical example, let’s examine the first question in the series. “Do I live a healthy life?” This questions does not usually take this form, but is often asked in different ways. How about, “Am I getting fat?” I have had to ask myself this question lately. The answer is fairly objective if we are to understand getting fat as gaining unnecessary body weight in the form of fat. Just look at the scale. Generally, if it’s going up the answer is yes. If you're not pumping iron every day building a bunch of muscle mass, and your body is shedding water as it’s supposed to, the answer is yes. Let’s suppose you asked this question to a spouse or friend. Well, good for you for inquiring. Let’s hope they are honest now. If the answer is truly no, you now have grounds to put you mind at ease and go on with your life. However, if you have to ask, the answer is likely yes. On hearing that yes, do you feel good? Absolutely not. You feel embarrassed, ashamed, and a whole slew of other things. However, now you can do something about it rather than living in denial. You see, without the answer, you will more than likely just continue down a path of willful ignorance thinking it makes you happier. It doesn’t though, because deep down you know something is not right. The truth leads to healing, and in this case a good chance at a healthier life. The lie leads to despair, self-dissatisfaction, maybe a less intimate relationship with your spouse, and possibly an early death. For me and my life, I desire the former. I want the truth. Unfortunately for me now, that means knowing that I have indeed been getting fat. For my future though, it means developing a plan and the necessary discipline to become healthier for my God, my family, my church, and even myself. I want to give them all my healthiest self.

Extrapolate this now to all the other questions. It shouldn’t be hard to see how asking questions then leads to joy.

If we don’t understand our personal financial accounting, as many do not, it leads at best to financial stagnation and at worse to financial ruin. How many people don’t have a general understand of the difference when subtracting their total expenses from their total incomes? How many people don’t understand the allocations of monies on their pay stubs? How many people don’t understand where their investments are held, or how their mortgage is structured? By my experience, it is the majority. They should ask more questions to themselves, their HR departments, their financial advisors, and their loan officers. Think of all of the success they are denying themselves because they are unwilling to ask questions and seek out answers.

How about personal development. We all want to think we are good people. We are great drivers while other are horrible selfish ones. We are great employees when all of our bosses have been despicable people. We are wonderful friends, and spouses, and parents, right? Well how about we ask that question honest. How about we put ourselves on trial by examining the things we have done and the motivations we have? An old proverb says “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” We will likely find we have been too generous with ourselves. Thus, we will discover ways we can be better, and more righteous in our speaking, thinking, and doing.

These extrapolations are great, but no questions denied asking are as harmful to our joy as denying the greatest questions of life. Questions about the origin of all things, the meaning of life, and existence of a soul. Many man have been robbed of peace because they spend their lives running to their distractions rather than facing these questions. Those who face them though, find their answers, and they no longer need relationships, alcohol, television, thrills, travels, or what have you to fill the void deep in their hearts. They can stop living lives running away from something and begin to live a life where they are running to something. Do you understand what this means? It means they find meaning and purpose. A life with meaning and purpose is a life brimming over with joy; even in the greatest moments of sorrow. So, what are we to do then. It’s simple.

We must ask questions. We must refuse to live life of willful ignorance and silence. This is making no one happier, better, peaceful or more full. In every context of life it worsens our circumstances. Again, we must love truth more than we fear questions. This should not be difficult intellectually now knowing where truth leads. The truth will set you free right? Great question. If you believe this to be true there is but one thing to do.


No Comments