When I was a teenager, I began to have some doubts about my faith. Whenever I would say something even closely resembling such a thing, my mother would say, “Don’t question God, Paula.”
Now that my doubts have been cleared up, I have great faith in God and trust him with everything. However, that journey to complete trust wasn’t down an easy road. Most of the time I discovered his faithfulness through difficult times.
Something else I discovered through becoming familiar with scripture is that there is a difference between questioning God and asking him questions. Questioning him, in my opinion, displays an attitude based on a lack of trust. Asking questions is based on an honest search for God’s heart.
I look at people in the Bible as examples. King David asked questions in many of his psalms. The story of Job, a man God described as “blameless and upright” is full of questions he would like to ask God. The prophets, especially Jeremiah, had questions for God. Jeremiah wrote a whole “letter” to God full of lamentations. Mary asked Gabriel how God would accomplish the virgin birth.
Jesus wasn’t questioning his Father when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to have the cup removed. He was lamenting what he would face in the crucifixion.
Often, it’s in this state of lament that we find ourselves asking hard questions of our Maker.
Examining these instances of lament–whoever it is in scripture–the people involved do the same thing. They often describe the situation to God. They ask their questions. Then they turn from the questions to praising God for what he’s done in the past. They tell him how much they trust him.
Looking back, I believe my doubts were simply a case of wanting some questions answered. I was an immature Christian and needed to have those answers.
Doubt isn’t inherently a bad thing. If our doubts lead us to ask questions and those questions lead us to sound belief, they can create a closer relationship with the Lord.
Doubt accompanied by the questioning attitude, however, can lead to a hard heart. That inevitably causes distance from God.
When we come to God with questions we may not always get an answer. Or the answer we hope for. But we’ll be drawing closer to him, remembering our dependence on him and remaining teachable by his Spirit.
Dear heavenly Father, help me to remember that there are people who, whether Christians or not, have sincere questions they need answered. Remind me that I still come to you with my own. Give me the ability to extend grace and not judge someone’s lack of faith because they have questions. I pray that all who seek you with all of our hearts–even through our questions–will find you as you have promised we will.