“Mom, I have a question,” my six-year-old regularly announces. She’s a talkative child, constantly chatting and wondering aloud. There are rarely moments of quiet when she’s awake, so I admittedly don’t listen attentively to all her discourses. But when she uses the “Mom, I have a question intro,” I’m usually all ears, for her phrasing seems to signal a deeper desire to be heard and be answered. I’m curious to know what’s on her heart that she hasn’t already vocalized.
The questions are often things regarding water evaporation, peregrine falcons, electricity, how cheese is made, and the like. Some I have answers for, other times I ramble about things I have no expertise in and eventually end with, “We’ll have to look it up.” But more and more, the questions are now shifting from how the things of the world work to why people in the world behave the way they do. It’s trickier ground to navigate, for sure. There are now questions on justice, mercy, fear, anger, suffering, evil, love, forgiveness—though perhaps not in those terms. She’s my oldest child, so while there’s part of me that is excited by this new level of conversation in our home, there’s certainly another part that wishes we could just eternally watch Youtube cheese-making videos for all her inquiries. (There’s a fascinating selection of them, by the way.)
While I may revel a bit in my role as authority on all natural phenomena, world history, and interpersonal relations, the truth is that I have many questions I want answers for as well. Recent events affecting the world, our nation, and my own personal life yield questions, worries, and heartache that I don’t always know what to do with. Instead of following the example of my own child and approaching my loving Father, I find myself, time and again, neglecting to turn to the one who answers those questions in my heart. Do I not trust that he will answer? Do I not see it as my place to ask?
The reading for this Sunday, Psalm 69, is a great reminder that it is not impious or irreverent to ask for answers from our God. I love King David’s boldness here. He approaches God with a litany of his unjust sufferings and prays to be heard, to be rescued, to be delivered: Lord, in your great love, answer me. He knows God’s nature, that God is love and kindness and mercy, and that within such a relationship of love, David is well within his rights to ask. I pray to you, O Lord, for the time of your favor, O God! In your great kindness answer me with your constant help. Answer me, O Lord, for bounteous is your kindness; in your great mercy turn toward me (Ps 69:14, 17).
God’s ways are mysterious, yes, but love is not unknowable. It desires to be known. He desires to be known. God’s desire is that his children turn to him for answers, for comfort, for revival. See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive! (Ps 69:33).
While David’s psalm focuses on God as the one who acts, who rescues, who lifts up and revives, it does beg the question: when he has revived my heart as promised, what then? What is my course of action during times of consolation? When my heart is glad, what is my specific work in the world? The Gospel for today speaks to this question: What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops (Mt 10:27). God, in his great love, not only answers us with his kindness and mercy, but he speaks to us in whispers. He gives answers to our discerning. He quietly calls us to be his voice in the world, to speak in the light, and to proclaim on the housetops. What answer are you seeking from the Lord today? Do you need his mercy and help? Are you discerning a course of action in the darkness? Let the prayer of the psalmist embolden you to approach the God of Love: Lord, in your great love, answer me.