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Living Your Question

My wife and I both spent some time at the University of Toronto. I was reading the alum mag they publish and there was a fascinating article on Dr. James Orbinski, who has devoted his life to serving the poor and victims of war through Doctors without Borders.  His story is incredible. I encourage you to read it.

He traces his path to a life question he asked when he was younger.  The question that drove him is this: How am I to be, how are we to be in relation to the suffering of others? His life is the answer to that question.  He calls it living the question.

That challenges me deeply.  I so don’t want my life to be about self-indulgence or self-gratification.  I want it to be about others and God.

As I drilled down into my own life, I thought back to when I was twelve years old reading a King James Version bible.  I remember praying something like "God, if it doesn’t offend you, I would love to translate this bible into a language that my friends can understand. Otherwise they will never come to know you. I think many of them would believe if they could only understand."   I had no idea as a 12 year old that there were bible translators and that dozens of great versions had been written.  But the question of "How do we make Jesus accessible so all can understand Him?" has driven much of my life for the 30 years since.  But as Orbinski says, living our question is a choice we have to choose daily.

What about you — do you have a question that drives your life?

If not, if you had to formulate a question you’d love to live, what would it be?


  1. carey nieuwhof on April 8, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    totally jonathan. i was thinking God answered the question of how we live in response to suffering so well.

    thanks cathy…thanks jonathan.

  2. Jonathan on April 7, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you mentioning the life and work of Dr. James Orbinski. I am interested in reading Dr. Orbinski's book "An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century" after April 22,2008.

    As I study the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I see that He lived amidst suffering imposed by Roman Empire in 1st century Palestine. Jesus preached good news and was a healer who reached out to those who were suffering from blindness, paralysis, demon possession, poverty, and leprosy. Jesus understands our suffering as humans because He lived in a human body and suffered on the cross. Hebrews 2:14-15, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who hold holds the power of death-that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."

  3. Cathy on April 6, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Thank you Carey for the thought provoking post. Dr. James Orbinski is an inspiring man. Again you have challenged us to think beyond ourselves and how we can make a difference in the world.

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