We all have questions we’d like answers to. But sometimes the questions we have of God can be the scariest to ask: we want to be reverential, not blasphemous. What if the question offends God?
More than that, deep-down we can be kind of afraid that there is no answer. What would that mean for our faith?
For some, the persistent presence of questions unasked has been a catalyst to their rejecting or abandoning of the Christian faith all together. That need not be so. In fact, the people in the Bible — those God uses to write his very word! — often asked the toughest questions of all.
Have you read them?
Has God failed to keep his word? Has he given up on his people?
Ps 77 7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
Why do bad things happen to good people? Is he asleep at the wheel?
Ps 44 17 All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant. 18 Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way; 19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death. 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. 22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. 23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! 24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
Has God forgotten me?
Ps 42 9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
Ps 13 1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Has God hidden himself from me in my time of need?
Ps 10 1 Why, O LORD, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Ps 88 13 But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14 O LORD, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?
What good is this suffering? Why would God let me suffer like this?
Ps 30 8 To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Ps 89 46 How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! 48 What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah 49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?
Has God given up on justice? Why doesn’t he stop the evil powers of the world already?
Hab 1 2 O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? 3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
Hab 1 17 Is he then [the wicked nation] to keep on emptying his net and mercilessly killing nations forever?
Why do wicked people and causes seem to succeed?
Jer 12 1 Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
How long are we to endure evil in this world?
Ps 74 9 We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long. 10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever? 11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!
So What Do We Do?
Of course, the mere presence of these questions in Scripture doesn’t immediately solve the problem the questions are asking. But it does give us hope, doesn’t it? Asking the questions themselves cannot — in and of itself — be evil, if the writers of Scripture acknowledge their legitimacy.
But here’s the best news. If the writers of the Book ask the questions and still maintain their faith, then surely there is hope for us, right?
So what do we do? We read on.
The God who isn’t afraid of the questions, yet calls people to faith in him, will surely give us grace as we seek the answers in him, and in his Book.
Friend, when you suffer, don’t give up and don’t hold back. Cry out to God; he is big enough to handle your toughest questions. He wants you to cast your unanswered questions on him; he cares for you (1 Pet 5.6-7).
Ps 42 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.