As a life coach going through the certification process, I learned about the power of open-ended questions. If we ask the right questions, people will often figure out the source of the problem. They may even come up with the best solution all by themselves.
In the past with various religious experiences, we were told not to question God. Just admit that he is sovereign and knows what he’s doing. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end—and everything in between.
But I have learned that in asking the hard questions, my faith actually grows stronger. Questions force me to dive deep and discover the root of a struggle. What I truly believe about this sovereign God.
If we truly trust that God loves us, we should not be afraid that the relationship will break if we confront him. Honest relationships are built on the trustworthiness of the characters, in spite of the struggles. So in this most important of relationships, surely it is okay to ask, “What in the heck is going on?”
God does not always answer my questions directly. He is maddingly patient. The ‘wait’ answer frustrates me time and time again, yet I have seen its value. Teaching patience and conserving spiritual energy for the right timing.
Some answers are indeed best served with the ‘Trust God’ refrain. Questions always seem to return to some semblance of trust. In any relationship.
Can we trust our relationship with God to stretch long enough without breaking, especially as we dare to ask the hard questions?
Question #1: Psalm 73 bugs me. I get the initial premise of the Psalmist, that people of the world often thrive while God’s people suffer. That does not bother me. It makes sense that a wicked world supports and rewards evil.
What bugs me are the inequities in God’s family. Why do some believers seem to have it so easy while others struggle with everything from financial loss to health issues to racial injustice?
Except for an occasional twinge, I live my life relatively pain-free. Yet some of my friends struggle with debilitating pain issues. Every. Single. Day.
Believers around the world face constant persecution, death, and the murder of innocents. Yet because we live in the USA with multiple freedoms, we are spared that injustice. Why?
Of course, God will eventually vindicate those injustices. But he also expects us to work toward justice and walk humbly as we show mercy. See Micah 5:2. Can we do that and still keep the question alive?
Question #2: God is just but often not fair. Why? How do we make sense of it, especially for those living on the short end of the proverbial stick?
How do the Ukrainian believers keep living and breathing faith when the necessities of life have been stolen by a madman and his regime? Somehow, they keep trusting God. Keep loving each other and even sometimes feeding the enemy. I admire their tenacity but wonder at the unfairness of it.
Some of the women I have coached somehow drew the lucky penny in their relationships. Their hubbies are supportive, loving, and faithful. They celebrate silver and golden anniversaries with joy.
Other women prayed just as faithfully and kept themselves pure so they could walk down the aisle in that white dress. Yet they have suffered from domestic abuse, financial insecurities, and the STD’s their ‘Christian’ spouse gave them.
Why? How is they do not blame God? I respect their faith but cringe at the unfairness of it all.
‘Trust God’s heart’ is the pat answer. Yep. That is possible. But I think we need to ask these questions in order to seek justice, walk humbly, and show mercy. We need to speak the truth in public places, vote for those who have the power to change dangerous patterns, and refuse to be sidelined by the pat answers that keep us in stagnant ruts.
I like Frederick Buechner’s quote, written during a time when life was uncertain, and questions surfaced. Never afraid to confront the ‘supposed and accepted’ truth of the times, Buechner focused on how we can keep strong in our beliefs. Even when those very principles force us to question.
“There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always leaving you room to recognize Him. Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. Touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis—all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
The questions millennials ask nudged my son and I to write a book together. Check out Uploading Faith: What It Means to Believe.