“Because I said so.”
This phrase must be in every parent’s handbook that they say doesn’t come with having a child (mhmm). Parents always say having a child doesn’t come with a handbook! Then why are all of y’all using the same phrase?! Hmm? How Sway? How?! I got questions.
Many parents have this comeback on lock (see urban dictionary) if their child asks a question they don’t want to answer for a number of reasons. It’s supposed to be the end-all, be-all. You aren’t supposed to ask any more questions. Otherwise, you risk being seen as disrespectful or rebellious.
Unfortunately, this is how many of us have believed God deals with us.
I can’t speak for everyone. However, many of us have not experienced an environment in which our doubts, fears, or insecurities are welcomed to be expressed; especially our about God.
We’re judged (by others or ourselves) for having questions. We’re afraid that having doubts about God proves something is wrong with us or God is angry with us; when actually, having doubts proves you’re human. This does not mean we intentionally live in our doubt, but we need to be honest about them.
Thankfully, when I was growing up, I had a safe place in which to express my doubts and converse about them without judgement. My various youth pastors all played a major role in encouraging me to engage the Bible and supposed truths about God. If you’re a believer (minister or not), be a safe place for people to express their questions and doubts. Listening to them does not mean you agree with them. There’s nothing quite like knowing you’re being listened to that makes you feel (and know) like you matter. Don’t be so focused on making them believe what they’re doubting that you forget to help them feel heard.
Sometimes, many of us are nervous to listen to a person express their doubts about God because we’re afraid we won’t have answers. Can I help you real quick? It’s okay if you don’t know everything. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know. Let me get back to you.” or “I’ve wondered that too. Let me think and pray about that.” or “I don’t know.” It doesn’t make you any less holy or saved for not knowing exactly what to say. In fact, it may be an opportunity for you to receive some understanding about questions you’ve had or currently have.
One reason many of us are afraid to have doubts is because we think God will be angry. However, God’s response to our doubts is never what we think it will be. God’s response to any of our fear or doubt is not anger, but grace. It’s love. It’s understanding. Psalm 103:2, 8, 10, 13-14 says,
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits; The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities. As a Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear (revere) Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.“
The reason God responds with love is because He is always aware of the fact that “we are dust.” In other words, God knows you’re human. God can respond with grace and love because He IS love. (1 John 4:7-21)
Love (God) isn’t waiting for you to be perfect or have it all together to love you. He loves you fully knowing your mess ups, your doubts, fears, and questions. This leads me to my next point.
You cannot disappoint God. Sometimes, we feel like we’ve disappointed God because we’ve been walking with God for so long but still have questions from time to time. Listen. You can’t disappoint someone who knows what to expect from you at any and all moments. So, not only do your questions not come as a surprise, but God already has the answer prepared for you specifically.
As someone who has a history of doubting, questioning, and debating the reality of God; I have some executive level experience.
I remember when I came to the realization, “I don’t have to believe in God.” It’s a choice. This was so pivotal because it started me on a journey to owning my faith not because “so-and-so said so,” but because I believed. I don’t mean you shouldn’t believe in God; I’m saying I realized for the first time, it was my choice whether or not I would believe. God prepared an answer that resolved my conflicted heart. It didn’t happen right away; but God was faithful to answer the specific question(s) in my heart which caused me to believe again.
If I’m honest, I still deal with questions and what ifs. Now, I’m not afraid to admit I have my doubts. Even if the doubt isn’t resolved right away, it’s liberating to identify it. Additionally, having dealt with these questions and frustrations has put me in the position to have transforming conversations with believers and unbelievers. For this, I’m grateful. It has also revealed more of the nature and character of God to me.
Furthermore, you can’t truly seek God without questions. “Who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” are all valid questions in pursuing God. “‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
When you begin searching for something, you ask a variety of questions that help you get closer to finding what you’re looking for. It’s the same with God. So don’t be discouraged by your doubting. Ask the questions. God will answer.
Be honest. Be transparent. God will meet you where you’re at.