Is It Okay to Question God?
God Won’t Strike Us Dead If We Question Him; He May Even Like It
Many people in the Bible question God. These aren’t fringe malcontents. They’re some of our favorite Bible characters and, I suspect, some of God’s favorite people too. They include Job, Abraham, Moses, David, Mary, and even Jesus. I can’t recall a single verse where God strikes someone dead or punishes them because they question him.
But asking God questions seems to be okay.
Job Questions God
In the book of Job, God permits Satan to torment Job. In rapid succession, Satan strips everything from Job: his possessions, his children, and his health. Job wants to give up. Throughout the book, he asks God a string of accusatory questions. “Why?” he repeatedly asks (Job 3:11-23 and many more). But God is patient with Job and then lovingly blesses him for his righteousness (Job 42:12-17).
Abraham Questions God
When God decides to destroy the city of Sodom, he lets Abraham know about his plans. Abraham questions God’s decision, wondering if God isn’t overreacting. The dialogue between Abraham’s questions and God’s answers ping-pong back and forth in excruciating detail. I lose my patience just reading the passage, yet God is patient with Abraham and seems to honor his ongoing inquiries (Genesis 18:23-33)
Moses Questions God
Moses is also comfortable asking God questions. One time, God is fed up with his chosen people. He wants to wipe them out. Then he’ll start over with Moses. He offers to make Moses into a great nation. Instead of accepting God’s generous offer, Moses pushes back. He challenges God’s decision. He asks God an impertinent question. Amazingly, God listens, and he relents. He doesn’t destroy the people, all because Moses intervenes and questions God (Exodus 32:11-14).
David Questions God
David, a man after God’s own heart, asks God a lot of questions. Just read through David’s writings in the book of Psalms. In many respects these serve as his prayer journal. In his writing, it seems David alternates between unabashed praise of God and asking unrestrained questions of despair (Psalm 2:1, Psalm 10:1, Psalm 10:13, and many more). One more is most significant. David asks, “God, why have you ditched me?” (Psalm 22:1).
Mary Questions God
God sends an angel with incredible news to young Mary. He says she’ll give birth to the Messiah who the people are waiting for. Her first response is a question. “How can this happen since I’m a virgin?” Though she directs her question to the angel, it’s really meant for God. When the angel explains that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally impregnate her, Mary accepts this. “May it be so” (Luke 1:34-38).
Jesus Questions God
Even Jesus questions his heavenly Father. It’s hard to believe, but that’s what happens. Just before his detractors execute him, Jesus prays. In his prayer, his question is formed as an imperative: “Don’t make me die, but if you insist, I will” (Mark 14:36).
What? This is why Jesus came: to die for us so we could be made right with Papa. So why would he request a last-minute reprieve? I don’t know, but he did.
Then as he’s dying in excruciating pain on the cross, he asks the most horrific question of all. Just as David asked centuries earlier, prophetically foreshadowing the life of Jesus, he asks, “God, why have you ditched me?” (Mark 15:34).
Yes, after this painful question, Jesus does die. But death doesn’t have the last word. Jesus overcomes death and lives anew, just as he and Papa planned from the beginning. When God’s children question him, he’s patient and doesn’t punish them. If we’re in relationship with him, I don’t think he’ll punish us to question him either. Click To Tweet
To Question God is Okay
Just like Lot’s wife, turning from God and returning to our old way of life deserves punishment. So does lying to God’s Holy Spirit as Ananias and Sapphira did.
But based on the above examples from the Bible, we see that when God’s children question him, he’s patient and doesn’t punish them. And if we’re in relationship with him, I don’t think he’ll punish us to question him either. In fact, I think he rather enjoys it.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.