Is It Wrong To Question God?: Faith When The Going Gets Tough
By Grant Stenzel, LCPC
As a former pastor and current Christian counselor I have seen many difficult things in my life. Let me get rid of any pretenses right away by admitting that I have questioned God, I have been angry with God, and I have been disappointed with God.
We know that God is merciful and kind. Yet you and I know there are so many occurrences in life that put our faith to the test.
Just the other day, I was watching the 10:00pm news and saw the story of a baby in the inner city whose life was cut inexplicably short by gang crossfire. What is God’s plan in that instance? When we see thousands upon thousands of innocent children starving in Africa, what is His plan? How does God explain the deaths at the hands of Hitler, Bin Laden and other tyrants over the centuries?
Or let’s bring it even closer to home.
How many of us have ever lost a job? In this economy, I’ll assume it’s happened to us or someone we love. What a heavy toll this takes on a family! The emotional and financial strains of just one family member being suddenly without a job are almost unimaginable as bills, the mortgage, a child’s education and more pile up. Good people lose their homes.
Almost immediately, we ask these questions, we feel guilt in asking them because we feel like bad people who are disrespectful of God. Right?
First of all, you are not going to scare God by questioning Him or being angry with Him; He will be ok, trust me. He desires for you to come to Him directly, be honest with Him and pour out your emotions to Him. Honestly, He already knows what you are thinking and feeling any way. His greatest desire is to have a relationship with you, and sometimes conflict happens in relationships.
There are countless Psalms written by David being completely honest with God.
Psalm 10:1 says “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
Psalm 13:1 “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
The great prophet Jeremiah came to God in honesty and openness and declared in chapter 12: “You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?”
Often we feel like we are the only one to ever question God. David did. Jeremiah did. You are not the first, nor will you be the last person to question God. I personally have found some of my greatest intimacy with God has been after I have poured out my frustrations to Him.
God created your emotions; they are not sin. Throughout the Bible we see instances of God becoming angry, sad, disappointed, and even frustrated, yet He is without sin.
The next question is, do we ever get an answer? Often we may not, as His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than ours. Sometimes the answer may not be what we are looking for.
One man that questioned God and didn’t exactly get the answer he was looking for is Job.
Job, a faithful follower of God blessed with seven sons and three daughters, is befallen with one hardship after another – the kind of family hardships that would threaten to break any of us emotionally. All of Job’s children die. He loses his possessions. His skin becomes smitten with awful boils.
Ultimately, even Job, a man who has had an unquestionable faith, has to ask God for an explanation for his suffering. And what is God’s answer? That He is God and Job is not.
He asks Job if he has ever had the authority or experience to do the things God has. Which of course, Job hasn’t. God maintains that as the only one who created the world and all the creatures in it, He is 100% free from ever seeking approval from his creations – namely, us.
Our lesson from Job is that while there are things we can see happening before us in the moment, we also must believe in the things we can’t see. If we believe that God is loving, we can trust that though we may not see it, he works everything for the good.
I like to use the analogy of chess here. Humans are all the pieces on the chess board. As much as we think we’re in control, we don’t get to move the pieces. Only God can do that. Why he moves us in certain directions is something we can’t immediately understand. Why did He move us one way when it seems there’s a clearly better move in front of us? Well, if you were sitting where He is, you could see the entire board. But you can only see what’s in front of you at that moment.
Now, as humans, we are imperfect beings. We have shortcomings, we sin and we have regret. Having these imperfections gives us the right to allow ourselves to temporarily grieve, question and be angry. But as we move through our stages of grief, we must look for the path that leads us back to solace and strength. Who do we turn to? Friends. Family. And yes, God.
Part of faith itself is being true to beliefs in something we can’t fully understand. What I suggest is not being frustrated by this fact but instead comforted and energized by it. God has a plan we can’t always decipher, but consider the greater reason for why that is as it pertains to faith and His grand picture of where we all belong. When we are true to his Word, there is joy in knowing we are in the plan of being rewarded one day by a loving Creator.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1