As far as I see it, there are two underlying reasons why someone would question something for a long time.
And the two types of questions are:
1. The Heavy Rock
This sort of question might be asked by someone who thinks highly of their own intelligence. As such, they are very impressed with their question. “Can God lift a rock that is too heavy for Him to lift?” Brilliant. A person can go for years with this question unanswered. Let’s call these the “heavy rock” questions.
2. The Head Scratcher
These questions will typically begin with a ‘why’ or a ‘how’. There is no easy answer to this question. At the root of these questions lies the very foundation of life, self, purpose or existence. Hence, the “head scratcher” questions.
The reason why the heavy rock questions don’t get answered is because the asker doesn’t want an answer. He feels he has come up with a question so intelligent that he has disproved multiple philosophies, and debunked all the theories in one fell swoop. Multiple birds with one heavy rock— …never mind.
This person’s question does not lead to progress. This question will sit with him for years, festering like an infected wound, lending an excuse and a justification to every negative action or inaction. As much as he’ll ask for an answer, as much as he’ll challenge you to be the one to solve the riddle, he wants it to remain a question.
As a wise person once said, “Making sure that everything is a question is just a smart way to make sure nothing is an answer.”
This person needs to be answered swiftly and conclusively. The healthiest thing for him is to be exposed as a question-monger. When he realizes that there may indeed be an answer, the most powerful thing is for him to accept it. This will be very challenging for him, but in the long run, it will be a lot more helpful.
On the other hand, the head scratcher should not be answered immediately. He should be allowed to build up his question and express it as fully as he can. He should be able to sit with it for a long time, so as to fully appreciate the question. Only then can he appreciate the answer. From the answer, and indeed, from the question, he will gain much insight. Whereas if he is answered instantly, he may not get the full benefits of the answer. In his mind, both the question and the answer will appear simplistic and unsatisfying.
Wisdom cannot be communicated directly. It can’t be taught in a book or a lecture. Wisdom is the process of a deeper understanding of one’s own. Each person must search for it; and then indeed, they will find it.
There is a third category of potentially long-lasting questions called Doubt. But I would opine that doubts shouldn’t count as real questions, and are phantoms rather: fears and insecurities that haunt our imagination. I won’t discuss them now. That will have to wait for a future post.