How do you ask a question? How do you ask a question even of God?
Questions are so important for vital faith and they are somewhat en vogue right now. There may be no such thing as a stupid question and yet the way we ask questions may sometimes keep us from truth instead of bringing us to it. Previously, I’ve looked at questions which don’t seek real answers. And how some questions can create distance between us and obedience. There is another kind of question that we should be aware of: that is, questions that don’t have answers.
For this we need to turn to one the Bible’s greatest question-askers: Job. The book of Job may well be the most ancient part of the Bible. In it, a rich, godly man loses everything and suffers more than most of us ever will (chapters 1-2). His three friends show up to bring him comfort (3-27). They think they have all the answers and so end up being more of a nuisance than anything. A younger, wiser guy comes along and says some smarter things (32). In the end, Job cries out to God and asks some pretty big questions:
What is the allotment of God from above? 31:2-3
In essence, Job is asking What is the will of God? What is the will of God during the mysteries of suffering? That is a big topic and one handled brilliantly by others. In a sense, the entire book of Job is questioning. Why do the innocent suffer? Why isn’t pain fairly distributed? Why do these things happen? What are the purposes of God? Anyone who has lived has some version of these existential questions in their own life.
Sometimes we approach God or the Bible searching for big answers to our most painful questions. Why did you let this happen? What is your plan? But Job teaches us something profound: Sometimes we don’t get answers to our questions. Job asks his questions (remember the entire book is a kind of questioning) and then what does God do? He has some questions of his own. Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 38:3 He proceeds to describe His incredible creation, the whole time asking Job whether he has the wisdom to understand all things.
There is a certain type of question which we must accept that we may never have the answer to. Usually these are in regards to difficulties and God’s purposes in them. The amazing lesson of Job is that God is under no obligation to share with us His secret purposes. In the questioning, we may not get the answers we start out feeling that we need. But in the end, we may understand God more and be content to trust in His will.
Questions are important and asking them of God is crucial for true spiritual maturity. But there are some questions which we may not receive answers for. Sometimes our questions help us to see how little we understand.