Have you noticed how fashionable doubting is these days? Our culture values cynicism. We’re made doubting and questioning an art form. We’ve elevated skepticism to new heights.
But I’m hardly one to criticize. I’m don’t exactly accept things at face value, either. I’m not proud of this, it just is.
I am pretty sure I would not have been one of the ones of whose faith would amaze Jesus. I probably wouldn’t have heard Him say, “I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Matthew 8:10). He’d be more likely to say to me the same thing He said to Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
I used to be reluctant to admit my doubts and questions. I thought they sounded irreverent and I was afraid of offending God. But I couldn’t help noticing how doubt-filled some of the Bible heroes were. Have you ever noticed how many of the saints struggled to make sense of their lives and how God operates in the world?
Consider just a few of the many biblical examples:
Job—“Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” (13:24). “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” (21:7).
David—“Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). “Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?” (Psalm 13:1).
The Sons of Korah—“O LORD, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 88:14)
Jeremiah—“Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” (12:1). “Why do You forget us forever? Why do You forsake us so long?” (Lamentations 5:20).
Habakkuk—“How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ Yet You do not save” (1:2). “Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?” (1:13).
From these Scriptures and many others, God is showing me what to do with my questions—and what not to do with them.
I need to speak up. God sees my heart. Whether I talk to Him about my questions or not, He is aware of them. When I try to hide them, when I try to fake that everything’s perfectly fine, thank You, I effectively shut Him out and I also run the risk of heart hardening. But when I bring my questions to Him with frankness and respect, He listens. He allowed Thomas to ask questions. He permitted the prophets, psalmists, and patriarchs to express doubts—and He allows me that same mercy. And what’s really cool is, as I bring my doubts into the light of His presence, often He meets me there and helps me to see things from His perspective. He gives me understanding that melts doubt and leads to trust. So I am learning to speak up—as long as I’m speaking to God and not to people. Which brings me to the other thing He’s showing me about questions.
I need to keep quiet. It is right to talk to God about my doubts. But it is wrong to poison other people with them. Doubt is contagious. Remember the 10 faithless spies in Numbers 13? Or in our own day, have you ever seen Christians flaunt their doubts publicly? They don’t just hurt themselves—they take others down with them! Asaph, a worship leader in David’s day, recognized the danger of broadcasting his doubts. Like many of us, Asaph saw how evil people seemed to thrive while righteous people suffered. But rather than post his doubts on the Internet or write a best-selling book about them, he kept quiet. “If I had spoken out like that,” he said, “I would have betrayed your children” (Psalm 73:15). Asaph took his questions to God—and God alone—and God gave him a new perspective that built his faith.
If you, like me, sometimes have questions about what God is doing in the world or in your life or with your prayers or with the people you love, don’t stuff them—but don’t spread them around like gangrene, either. Take them to God. Pour out your heart to Him and let Him answer you like He did Thomas and Asaph, and a host of others who dared to speak up and ask God.