God is in the Question

My mum swears I was born asking, ‘Why?’

I think she exaggerates. I don’t even remember asking ‘Why?’ until I was eleven years old and was under pressure to expand a review I’d written of Anne of Green Gables. Instead of the usual paragraph, the teacher wanted an entire page on why I’d liked it. I did some soul-searching and then asked myself, ‘So, Anne,¬†why exactly¬†do you like it?’

That’s influenced my reviewing ever since. If you check out my reviews at Goodreads, you’ll find I often write a lot, simply to try to articulate my liking (or disliking) for a book.

Nonetheless, my mother says it started earlier. I was relentless in my quest for answers as a toddler and would not be put off by half-hearted replies. Somewhere along the line, I learned that if you ask God seriously and are patient enough, He takes you seriously in turn and always gives answers.

Somewhere along the line, I also came to believe that, when God appears in a whirlwind at the end of the book of Job and poses some questions, it was not so much about demonstrating His majesty and mystery, as actually answering Job. Sometimes I could see answers within the questions themselves.

Just this last week, I discovered a very interesting rabbinical thought that encapsulates this sense of God’s presence in those questions. The Hebrew word for ‘question’ is shelah. It contains the element ‘el’ which is the name of the Lord. Therefore, say some rabbis, God is in the question.

Isn’t that profound?


  1. Alison Collins

    I agree that God certainly seems to like us to search into matters and really investigate things before He gives us answers…almost seems that the search is more important than actually getting the answer…


    • Hi Alison
      I’d like to think the answers are most important. Though sometimes the search itself is, as you point out, more important. I think this is because the search often changes our perception so greatly, in order that we can understand the answers.

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