Sometimes we talk about questioning God. There are usually two reasons we question God. Some people question God as a way to accuse God. We volley questions which are really complaints. They usually look something like this, God, why did our didn’t you do (fill in the blank)?
These accusatory questions cannot equate God’s supposed character with some sort of activity or inactivity on God’s part. Perhaps the problem lies in a misunderstanding of God’s character. Or perhaps it is a problem with a false belief in the superiority of our reasoning. These questions could be stated in a declarative sentence that begin with something like this, If I were God…
In either case we have attempted futilely to bridge the gap between God and man. We are either trying to bring God down to our level or we are attempting to elevate ourselves to God’s level. Neither attempt will work. He is God. We are not.
God has a reason for every action or inaction. He may or may not inform us of that reason. When Job finally questioned God about all of the pain and suffering he had endured, God responded with a lengthy treatise on his ways. He never actually answered Job’s question. He merely pointed out which one of them was God in the conversation.
If you question God this way, expect to be frustrated and to become less believing in him. The outlook of those who follow him should be one of trusting in his sovereignty. Sovereignty means that he has absolute say so on what he does or doesn’t do. Not only this, but it also means that he is right and just in whatever he does or doesn’t do.
If we simply remember some of the relationship descriptors given to us in the Bible, it can help us maintain the distinction as to which one of us is God and which one isn’t.
- Creator – creation
- Master – slave
- Teacher – pupil
- Father – son
- Lord – servant
- God – man
In the first paragraph I mentioned that there are two reasons we question God. The second reason is that we might better relate to God as mere men.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8 ESV)
We are instructed to ask God when we lack wisdom. Lacking wisdom indicates that we don’t quite get what God is up to in a given situation. Our asking isn’t to accuse God, it is to understand. This kind of asking must be done in faith. That is, the relationship between God and man is clearly established in our mind. We recognize that he doesn’t have to answer to us. He does as he wills. We ask humbly as the creation to the Creator or as the slave to the Master or as the son to the Father.
The clearest example of this is seen in the question of Jesus when he was on the cross. With his humanity on full display, Jesus cried out to God. So important was this question that the address was repeated twice. To accent the question, the Scriptures record it for us both in Aramaic and in our language.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 ESV)
Why? That was the question. Was it an accusatory question? No. The Aramaic word translated “why” is not used in that manner. In effect what Jesus was saying was “Remind me again why I am being forsaken by you.” Remind me of the purpose. Jesus, having the attributes of deity, knew that his being forsaken would bring about the salvation of man. So it was not an accusation at all. Also notice how he addressed the Father as My God, my God. He still recognized that God in heaven was sovereign even over the suffering of his son.
Jesus was demonstrating what James would later teach us. To ask in faith. How about you? Do you find yourself questioning God as if you are the judge and he is on trial? Be warned. That sort of questioning puts you in opposition to God. Instead ask in faith, trusting that God has a purpose…even when we can’t figure it out.