“How long can you stand the pain? How long will you hide your face?”
Those are words from a Christian band, Red, in their song ‘Let it Burn’. I’d recommend listening to that song and considering the lyrics all the way through, because it’s a frank, honest song asking questions of God. What I want to talk about briefly here is not the sort of reasoning and logical discussion and doubt that I’ve mentioned elsewhere, but a different type of questioning – a deep, personal questioning of the character and the person of God. I don’t know with this topic…perhaps some Christians will feel uncomfortable with the idea of questioning God. While I can see why you would feel that it’s inappropriate to question an omnipotent, omniscient being who rules your life, that doesn’t change the fact that righteous, Biblical figures such as Job and David questioned God; even Jesus asked if there was another way that things could happen.
I suppose this post is a response to the idea that it is somehow wrong to question God and still be in a right relationship with him. I’ll admit, there are many people in this world that have suffered a great deal and still come through it faithful to God, so perhaps I’m not the best person to write this post, but bear with me and see if what I say makes sense. When I’ve struggled with an idea or issue, it’s rare that I’ve felt satisfied with just saying ‘it happens’ or ‘God did it’ – that’s not a permanent resolution to a tough issue. Questions help us to understand. Sometimes, the simple act of asking can make us feel closer to God because we’re interacting with him and a relationship is pretty awful without any sort of interaction. But the benefits of asking God questions go beyond that. If he answers you (and that may not be immediately, or in a way that you expect) you can be sure that the answer will satisfy you a whole lot more than if you buried the idea. I’ve often found that after asking a question, I’ve then encountered the issue in my Bible…sometimes, I’ll just have a few minutes of quiet and talk about the idea with God; whenever this has happened, I’ve always felt so much more secure in my relationship with God.
I’m not saying it happens that way every time. One of my favourite passages in the Bible is when God responds to Job’s questions and, dare I say it, accusations, with the opening words: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” (Job 38). Now, this response may seem a little harsh, but trust me that it makes sense in context! It is also helpful to remind us that if we’re questioning God, we should be prepared for him to question us. That’s not because he needs to know something, but, I think, it’s to encourage us to examine ourselves and see if the solution to the problem is in us, as opposed to God.
Every relationship is two way and I maintain that a human’s relationship with God is no different. If we ask questions, we have to be prepared for his response, and the possibility that we might have to change before we see the solution. God is wise and powerful, but he’s also caring – a father to us – he wants us to talk to him! We can ask him things when we don’t understand because if we don’t, we’ll just build up piles of junk that we’re forever uncomfortable with and can’t shift. But when we do ask, we have to be aware that we may not like the answer, and that the answer may force us to examine our own hearts before we look to accuse someone else.