Is it wrong for Christians to question God?
In my humble opinion, NO.
Of course there is a manner in which we should always approach God–with respect and all due reverence. But God is the one who granted us our inquisitiveness as well as the ability to experience all of the emotions that come along with knowing–or not knowing–something that affects us.
I am still not feeling like myself. As I believe I have mentioned before, whatever is going on with my body seems to change almost daily. Yesterday I had a headache. Today the headache is gone, but I have been having tremors and shakes, mainly in my legs, particularly the right one. That just began a day or so ago. Perhaps because of my medication, my appetite has changed, nothing tastes right, my mouth is always dry, and occasionally I feel like my legs are either numb or have weights in them.
I have every intention on returning to my job, with a renewed spirit, at the very least. Yes, it is not the most engaging work, but it is work. I do take pride in the opportunity to bring home a paycheck. I have not been pleased the last few weeks at home basically in bed, of little use to anyone. A few times at home I have attempted to cook–an activity I absolutely love–and have struggled even to do that. It is the most frustrating and maddening event of my entire life. I keep thinking to myself, “I used to be an ATHLETE! How did this happen??? WHAT IS THIS?? What am I supposed to do? Am I ever going to be ME again??”
Who else is more qualified to answer those questions?
I have nothing but the utmost respect for the doctors I have seen (and am scheduled to see)–family doctors, neurologists, pulmonary doctors, radiologists, etc. They have an incredible body of knowledge and have to work to maintain that knowledge, as it seems as though new medical discoveries occur regularly, new treatment modalities are recommended over others, etc. Patients expect their doctors to be knowledgeable, and for the most part, doctors have to rely on patients’ word, as some symptoms are not readily seen (such as mine). So although I am frustrated with this process, I respect their job and that they have to work carefully to rule out certain things. I understand that in order for them to discover what is wrong I may be subjected to tests. It is what it is.
Despite their specialized training and years of education, the only one who can satisfy my need to know about myself is the one who created me, the one who knows the number of hairs on my head. I am at a vulnerable point right now, one I NEVER set myself up for–dependent. I did not go to school, get thousands of dollars in debt, so I could be a burden upon anyone. Yet here I am.
So yes, I have had some questions for God. Not necessarily “why me”… no, that does not matter. I am no different from anyone else who has been afflicted with something, so I don’t need to ask “why me?”. God is no respecter of persons… if He decides for someone to have something, it’s done for a reason. THAT is my question–what is the reason? What am I supposed to get out of all of this?
I am not sure why people believe they aren’t allowed to question God. Habakkuk, one of the minor prophets in the Old Testament, openly questioned God. So I do not think that questioning God is off-limits, but our approach has to still be in line with respecting who God is.
I love reading the Old Testament. By a small margin, my favorite book is Exodus, but after that it becomes increasingly difficult for me to determine which one falls next in line. Job? Song of Solomon? Proverbs? It is a book that overfloweth (if I may) with knowledge, wisdom, and stories of human experience that could very well be told in today’s commentary. I particularly love the Major and Minor Prophecy books-not only the books themselves but learning the history of those prophets.
Prophets were God’s mouthpieces in the Old Testament. God gave them a very specific message to give to a group of people, and they had to deliver it with no filler. The Major Prophecy books–those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations (which is attributed to Jeremiah, the “Weeping Prophet” who was so heavily burdened by the message he had to deliver that he wrote the entire book out of anguish for the state of his nation), Ezekiel and Daniel–are longer than the Minor Prophecy books, of which there are twelve: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament before God fell silent for 400 years). Although the Church now is not under the Law (Romans 6:14, for example: For sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under the law, but under grace), Christians ought not neglect Old Testament readings. How else can you understand the need for Jesus and that He came to fulfill if you do not know it? The Old Testament provides the backbone for the New.
But I digress.
Habakkuk could very well have been one of us today. Looking around at the wickedness taking place in Judah, Habakkuk is perplexed. I could be Habakkuk–when I woke up today and looked at a few headlines all I saw was bad news. An airplane crash that killed over a hundred people. Murders, shootings, strife, contention among neighbors, etc. It is a sad commentary for someone who grew up in the eighties. There is no way anyone can convince me that the world wasn’t a better place then. I imagine Habakkuk felt the same way as he watched wickedness apparently prevail in Judah. I too have been disheartened even to the point of tears to watch society fall apart as it has. To see the corruption among the people who are supposed to represent us, who use their positions to exalt themselves and further the organizations and causes that benefit them instead of the common person. The constant warring among nations and entire groups of people who seemingly have no other purpose on this earth than to terrorize others. To see nakedness, sexual sin and destruction of the human body with “butt implants” and the like touted as being normal and acceptable by “celebrities” that little girls are looking at and modeling themselves after and the media. And as a Black person, I am hurt daily by how we are killing each other left and right instead of taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to us by the sacrifices of our ancestors. We disrespect their struggle DAILY. I am also tired of seeing other Black women demean themselves on reality shows. I feel sorry for my kids.
In my talks with God, I have asked the same questions as Habakkuk, more in terms of the societal decay than my own illness, although I acknowledge that too. “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, Violence! but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted” (Habakkuk 1:2-4, NIV).
In the next few passages of Scripture God gives his answer. He did not rebuke Habakkuk for questioning him:
“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright–but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness–indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples” (Hab. 2:2-6).
The “enemy” in this case is Babylon, the nation that God will use to execute his judgment upon Judah. At that time the Babylonian empire was extremely powerful. They were as wicked as they were powerful, leaving one to wonder why God would use an even more wicked nation to punish Judah. This was because in their pride, the Babylonians would exalt themselves, as they did not acknowledge God, when a victory was achieved (they were a “puffed up” people). It would only be a matter of time before the rug is pulled out beneath them, so to speak–regardless of what we see or believe, evil does not prevail. Babylon, which did in fact invade Judah three times over a period of about 20 years (the first, around 607 B.C., is when the major prophet Daniel was taken, his book regarding his captivity is phenomenal; the second, around 597 B.C., resulted in around 10,000 people being taken into captivity, including Ezekiel; and the third, in 587, when Jerusalem was conquered and utterly destroyed) was in fact conquered in 539 B.C. by Cyrus the Great of Persia (all good things come to an end, right?).
The next following passages include a series of “Woe to him”… statements, basically letting us know 1) God was fully aware of what was going on and 2) that these were the types of infractions that would definitely be acknowledged by punishment:
“Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion!” (Hab. 2:6) Wow. How often do we see this today? People getting wealthy on the backs of the underdogs?
“Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his next on high to escape the clutches of ruin!” (Hab. 2:9)
“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice!” (Hab. 2:12)
“Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gave on their naked bodies!” (Hab. 2:15).
“Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life! Or to lifeless stone, Wake up! Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver, there is no breath in it” (Hab. 2: 19).
Basically, Babylon had accumulated their wealth at the expense of less fortunate others, and would have to pay for it, but tell me that is not a commentary for today. Wow. And notice the reference to idolatry in verse 19. Of course all Christians know that we are not to worship or bow down to other gods, but do we take care to make sure that we don’t make something into a god? Anything that replaces God in importance and priority becomes our god and makes us idolaters. It could be the accumulation of wealth, as was the case with the Babylonians, or it could be a person or a thing. Money can easily become an idol. Material possessions can become idols. Even our electronics can become idols. If we find ourselves using the time we could be spending praying, reading our Bibles, serving in our churches or community to instead surf the Net, tweet useless tidbits of information, take series after series of narcissistic selfies, or watch Empire, there is a problem (not saying anything is wrong with any of those things in moderation, just they shouldn’t consume us).
Habakkuk responds to God’s response with a prayer that makes up the entire third (and final) chapter of the book. The first thing he says is “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord” (Hab. 3:2a).
What have I taken away from this book? A lot. First it answers my question: “Is it okay to question God?” Yep. But when we do, we have to be like Habakkuk, who did not go to God with an attitude. No, Habakkuk had sincere concern for the world in which he was living and felt helpless to control the wickedness that was consuming it. He knew to query the Creator and to wait patiently for his response. Although Habakkuk might not have gotten an answer that he wanted–or even understood–he praised God for his answer. Apparently Habakkuk respected the fact that his knowledge of God’s will was limited. We all should. At the end of the day, evil will not prevail. God has already established a plan to deal with those who are. Those of us who believe in God just have to wait for it and continue to build our own Christian character and reach out to those who are living in the darkness.
So do I understand what I am dealing with? No. Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. But I am comforted by the fact that I have a relationship with the One who can answer me, who knows all and is all. I will wait patiently for this to be revealed to me. And I will still praise him in the meantime. My life has been good.