Deep Thought, Douglas Adams's super computer from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I don’t know the right question to ask

I’m a geek. Fair warning. Just in case you didn’t know that already. But I’m geekier than most because I can make references to a lesser known science fiction British satire novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. You can learn a lot by reading this cornucopia of sarcasm and hilarious Britishness, including how bowls of petunias think, what dolphins are really saying, and the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

No, really. The answer to life, the universe, and everything.

See, in this story, an ancient race brought on the two most brilliant people of their age and had them design and build the greatest super computer ever constructed, for the sole purpose of having it tell them the answer to life, the universe, and everything. And after around 7 million years, the computer was ready to tell them the answer.

Ready for this?

42.

Yes, that’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything. And if that answer confuses you, the computer simply explains that it would make sense if you know the right question to ask.

Today’s verses are Job 36:22-26 and Job 37:23-24.

Deep Thought, Douglas Adams's super computer from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Deep Thought, Douglas Adams’s super computer from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

“Look, God is all-powerful.
Who is a teacher like him?
 No one can tell him what to do,
or say to him, ‘You have done wrong.’
 Instead, glorify his mighty works,
singing songs of praise.
Everyone has seen these things,
though only from a distance.
Look, God is greater than we can understand.
His years cannot be counted….

We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty;
but even though he is just and righteous,
he does not destroy us.
No wonder people everywhere fear him.
All who are wise show him reverence.”

These are the words of Elihu, one of the not-so-friendly friends who were “helping” Job into a nervous breakdown on the worst day of his life. And maybe Elihu had misinterpreted Job’s situation (no maybe about it), but what he has to say to Job isn’t necessarily wrong.

If you had the opportunity to ask God any question, what would it be? What would you ask Him? Would you want to know why you lost your job or why someone you love passed away? Would you ask why a child is diagnosed with an incurable illness or why sick people have to suffer so much? Would you ask Him why He didn’t just start over after humanity screwed His perfect plan up? Would you ask Him why He allowed Satan to live, knowing the damage he would cause?

So many unanswered questions. And we all like to have our questions answered. We don’t like not knowing.

But have you ever asked yourself what you would do with the answer if you got it?

If you asked your impossible question and God gave you your answer, what would you do? How would you react? What would change?

I’m just like everyone else probably is. Unanswered questions leave me unsatisfied, discontent, unsettled. But something I’ve learned over the years is that I’m never going to know all the answers. And even if I did, I don’t think I would understand them. Because, honestly, I don’t even know the right questions to ask.

You can ask any question. God doesn’t sit up in heaven rolling His eyes at our dumb questions. Well, maybe He does, but that doesn’t mean He loses patience with us. But what hit me yesterday as I sat thinking about questions we would ask God is that even if God answered our questions, I’m not sure we would understand the answer.

Why?

Well, God is so much bigger than we are. God’s thoughts are so much greater. Can we even comprehend how massive He is? How huge? How mighty?

Maybe Elihu, Job’s friend, had misinterpreted Job’s situation, but he wasn’t wrong about God. We can’t understand God. We can’t wrap our heads around Him because He is infinite, and we are finite. Granted, we have the Holy Spirit living in us, if we’ve chosen to follow Jesus, but that doesn’t mean we get to grasp God. That just means we have a way to talk to Him and that we have some insight into why.

It’s like an adult trying to explain something to a child. An adult has to dumb down the answer so the child can understand, but in dumbing down the answer, an adult can’t explain what’s really going on. Because the child won’t understand. And I really think it’s the same way between us and God.

It’s not that He’s holding back. It’s not that He’s keeping information from us. It’s not that He wants to frustrate us. It’s just that if He tried to explain, if He tried to answer our questions the way we wanted, we wouldn’t understand.

That’s not to say we should stop asking questions. No! God wants us to ask questions. God wants us to dive deeper into a relationship with Him, and that means asking as many questions as you can think of. But sometimes you aren’t going to understand the answer you get. And that doesn’t mean the answer is wrong. It probably just means you aren’t asking the right question.

So think about it. Pray about it. And move on. If you don’t understand it yet, maybe you’re not supposed to. But that doesn’t mean you never will.

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