There are events in ones life that will stir up within us questions. Some of these events are minor and we can answer the questions ourselves. Other events that occur leave us with a helpless feeling because we can not make sense of the events that we know to be true. We are left desperate for answers, but know that we have none.
Many times this leads people to do a few things in relations to God. One will either question God, understand that He is in control and that He is good. Secondly, one will question God, think Him unjust and unloving and conclude that He is evil. Lastly, one will conclude that the events themselves prove that there is not God at all. Some may even go through all of these stages of questioning, but in the end one will always settle into one of these categories.
I think its important to realize that questioning God is not a sin. In fact we see throughout the history of the Bible that there have been many people within Scripture that ask God why things are happening they way they are. The Psalms are filled with this type of questioning. Books like Job, Habakkuk and James are also great sources of comfort in time of questioning.
In the book Habakkuk God and Habakkuk are having a conversion about why He is allow things to happen that Habakkuk doesn’t think should be happening. In short, God answers Habakkuk but not in the way he wants. This is the first lesson I think we need to learn when dealing with troubles and how it effects our relationship with God. Habakkuk knows that He can ask God the big “why” questions that he has. He also knows that God will answer, but he learns that God doesn’t always answer the way he wants. When Habakkuk asks God why there is so much wickedness God answers by telling him that He will destroy the wickedness by destroying Habakkuk’s nation. This is not what he thought he would here from God, but its what he got. If we go to the end of Habakkuk we see that he still rejoices in who God is even when he knows it isn’t going to end well for him (Read it here). He knows that God is the God of his salvation and even when God’s plans are not his plans he can still rejoice.
The second lesson we can learn is from Job. Job gives us a great example of what good questions and bad questions look like. For example in chapters one through twenty five Job wrestles with the Gods justice, morality, suffering, punishment, and dealings with wickedness. In these things Job is crying out to God and at the same praising God for who He is. We see here that when God is questioned He is also respected. However we see a slight turn in chapter 38, in fact I would describe it as a terrifying turn. God is tired of answering Job. Jobs questions and his friend advice has turned from good questions to arrogant ones. They start to think themselves wiser than God. So God ask Job a few questions (Read it here). It is clear that God cares and wants to hear our pleas. However there is a fine line between asking God questions and thinking ourselves smarter than Him. Jobs response to Gods questions are silence and repentance. He is reminded that he is small and God is big.
The last lesson I think we need to learn during our times of trouble comes from the half brother of Jesus. In the book of James we read that times of troubles are really times of testing of our faith. This is not to say that God plays games with us, throwing us curve balls just to get our blood pumping, but instead uses the things that would normally crush us to bring us closer to Him. We read this from other writer of scripture as well (Read it here). James tells his church that troubles are going to come, but that in these troubles they should find joy (Read it here). This joy is not like happiness which is circumstantial. This joy is not based on the events around them, but instead in Jesus Christ and their salvation found in Him. When they understand this and start to process their troubles through this new lens of faith and trust they will, James says, grow in steadfastness which will lead to a deeper walk with God. However in this James does give a warning much like we find in Job. He says that if one doesn’t not trust in the Lords goodness and thinks themselves smarter than God then they should not expect to receive anything from Him because they, in truth, don’t trust Him.
If we take all of these lessons that we learn from scripture and put them together we are reassured of God’s goodness. An understanding that He owes us no answer but, many times, will provide one (though it might not be the answer we want) begins to grow. With it an understanding that He will and does use troubled times for our good and not our downfall.
It may be hard to see and even harder to understand, but we can rest assured that He is God and He is good.