“Question everything” seems to be the motto of our generation. College encourages critical thinking and diving deep into our studies. Maybe it’s the age bracket we live in, but we’re obsessed with questioning society, expectations and culture. In fact, questioning has become branded as a coming-of-age ritual.
I’m no different. As a math major, I love the question: “Why?” I spend hours meticulously analyzing definitions, studying identities and examining theorems to create well-defined and developed proofs that aim to answer the mathematical “why” behind what I do. All this leads me to the questions: Can we question God in the same way? Should we question God in the first place? Is there a right and wrong way in so doing? Furthermore, how does He respond to our questions?
So, one afternoon, I pulled out my brown leather Bible from the top shelf and combed the familiar stories with the sole purpose of exploring the topic of questioning God. What I found surprised me, encouraged me and humbled me. The following are some of the main points I learned.
First of all, there are two ways that we can question God. Equally interesting is how God responds to both these ways. For lack of a better term, let’s call them productive questioning and unproductive questioning. To define both categories, let’s ask the following questions.
Why are you asking? What are your motives behind questioning God?
People who questioned God productively questioned Him because they didn’t understand something about God. But, after sharing their concerns, they ended with faith.
Job is a prime example. He felt rejected, abandoned and that God was being unjust. You can read chapters full of Job’s questions to God. But, even though he didn’t understand what God was doing in that moment, Job stated, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.” He further explained, “Even so I will defend my own ways before Him. He shall be my salvation, for a hypocrite could not come before Him.” (Job 13:15-16)
On the other hand, unproductive questioning is aimed at validating our perceptions of God. This method often ignores the answers God has already given. One classic example is the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They consistently questioned Jesus not because they wanted answers, but because they wanted to trip Him up and cement their worldview of a Messiah. Read Luke 11:16-36, and you’ll see them demanding Jesus to perform a sign. But, Jesus didn’t take the bait and stated the only sign He would give them was the “sign of Jonah.”
In contrast, God responded to Job — not with answers that Job so desperately wanted, but rather in questions. Still, this response was enough, and Job humbly stated, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job. 42:3)
So here’s the bottom line: Only through faith can we listen to God’s response when we question Him (Heb. 11:6). So, ask the hard questions, pray to God your broken prayers and let your tears blur the ink on your Bible pages. But don’t forget to listen through God’s terms for His response.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)