“How’s the relationship with your father?” “What sort of dreams do you have?” “Is there any evidence of mental disorder in your family?” And of course, “How does that make you feel?” These are just a few of the questions psychologists use to help their troubled patients.
But when it comes to helping broken and troubled people, God asks the best questions of all.
In his book Whistling in the Dark, pastor and theologian Frederick Buechner talks about the questions that God asked Adam and Eve when He confronted them in the Garden of Eden after their sin. Though Buechner focuses on two questions, there were a total of four that God asked. Take a look at the questions, and how they help.
1. Where are you? This question exposes a person’s present reality. It gives instant feedback on both progress and setbacks. This question is used to find out how a person is handling their emotions, their struggles, their circumstances, etc. (God used this question to bring the man and woman out of hiding.)
2. Who told you that you were naked? This question helps a person scrutinize the influences on their lives. It makes people think about who they are listening to in life. (God used this question to show Adam and Eve their folly in listening to the serpent.)
3. Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? Point blank, this question is about confession. It urges a person to be honest about their sinful nature. (God used this question to cut to the heart of the matter: their sin.)
4. What is this that you have done? This question reveals the past…the unchangeable past. It forces people to reflect on the outcome(s) of their actions. (God used this question to show the man and woman the consequences of their choice.)
Therapists have been using these questions ever since God first asked them. They will try just about anything to get their patients to move forward. But God didn’t merely ask questions; He also provided answers! The Bible says God made garments of skins for Adam and Eve and then clothed them. Frederick Buechner notes of Adam and Eve – and the rest of mankind – “They can’t go back, but they can go forward clothed in a new way.”
God’s ancient therapy still works in a modern world.
Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary by Frederick Buechner. Harper & Row, 1988, Page 96.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)