by Joe Thorn
When we’re confused or lost, we often ask questions. Many saints throughout history have sought answers from God by asking questions—even within Scripture itself. Asking these questions is a work of faith, for we know God has the answers. When we ask questions of God and look to Scripture for the answers, our faith is strengthened.
Throughout Scripture, we see the people of God struggling under the weight of difficult circumstances and trials. When David is suffering at the hands of ungodly men, he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest” (Ps. 22:1–2). David knows the Lord, and he knows that He is a God who saves. But here he is groaning in pain, feeling alone and at risk. He asks God questions in the trials of his life.
In Psalm 73, Asaph sees the prosperity and comfort of the wicked in contrast to the poverty and misery of the righteous, and his understanding of God as good is challenged. His whole life of faith feels as though it is pointless. So he cries out, “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning” (Ps. 73:13–14). Asaph has good theology, but life is pushing against it. His questioning, like David’s, doesn’t lead him away from the truth, but back to it.
Why are we suffering? What is God doing? Where is justice? Why do I feel so alone? God, have you forgotten me? These questions do not come out of nowhere, but stem from knowing the promises of God without finding the experience of those promises in the valley of the shadow of death. When we are ignorant, afraid, or afflicted, it is good to ask questions in order to rediscover the truth we may be losing sight of. In every trial, we have the choice to grit our teeth and bear the burdens and questions in our hearts alone, or we can take them all to the God who answers us.
When we ask questions in our pain, we are looking for the God who is there. It is the longing to see God act in ways He has said He will. When we ask questions humbly, we are not denying His character, but seeking the God who has revealed Himself to be just, merciful, good, and loving. When we pray—especially in our suffering—we raise our voices in a plea for God to answer us, waiting in faith that He will in His perfect providence. Let us not doubt.
What makes our questions an act of faith and beneficial to our souls is the readiness of our hearts to hear God in His Word, to trust what He has said about Himself despite what we think we see happening in our lives. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5–6).