Every one of us, at some point in life, have questioned the decisions or motives of our parents. There are many things they did or said that we, as children, just didn’t understand. Why do I have to eat my vegetables? Why is my curfew so early? Why do I have to do chores? Why can’t I borrow the family car tonight?
Because we were not a parent at the time, we just could not understand their perspective, wisdom, decisions or reasoning. Now that I am a parent, I have come to the conclusion that parenting is really hard. Had I known how hard it was, I would have been much easier on my parents. I questioned them in ways I should never have. I also made a lot of assumptions without any real knowledge of the facts. They were a lot wiser than I ever gave them credit for and because of this, I should have trusted them more – even when I disagreed with them.
In my younger years, I used to be very political. I found myself getting vocal about various Presidential decisions. Without realizing it, I became an “arm-chair” President. Without a political science degree and without ever being elected into any office or even volunteering on any campaign – I thought I knew more than our sitting President (regardless of who it was or what party he served). One day I came to the realization that the President probably had access to information I wasn’t privy to. He probably had numerous factors that influenced his decisions and had I had some of that information, I may think differently than I did in my currently ignorant state.
In like fashion, every one of us at some point in our life have questioned God about some of the events that have surrounded our lives. For years I wondered why He let my Dad die when I was five. Why does He allow little children to be abducted? Why do people get cancer? Why didn’t He prevent 9-11 from happening? Why can’t the Chicago Cubs win a World Series? Because we are not God, we cannot understand His perspective, wisdom, decisions, reasoning or timing. Our finite minds cannot grasp the concept or actions of an infinite Being. God reminded the prophet Isaiah that “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (55:9)
In the book that bears his name, we find a man named Job who had lost everything. He lost all 10 of his children and his family business to four “freak” accidents in a matter of minutes. The only surviving relative, his wife, told him to curse God and die. On top of that, he was afflicted with painful boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. As he sits in a pile of ashes (a sign of mourning), his three friends basically tell him that all of this trouble has come upon him because he did something to offend God. Claiming his innocence (in which he actually was), his faith in God begins to waver. Eventually he begins to question God’s love and fairness. For 37 chapters, God quietly listens to Job and his friends complain and play “arm-chair” God. Finally, God has grown tired of hearing all the questions and He wants a few answers Himself. Job’s questions are all “why” related. We tend to ask those types of questions in times of doubt. It seems implied from the text that God will answer Job’s “why” questions if he can answer God’s “what” questions. God then asks Job over 70 blistering questions, each more difficult to answer than the one before. How many could you answer? An excerpt of the passage and God’s questions are below:
God said, “Job, why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers.
- Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much!
- Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that!
- How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise?
- And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb? That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose, And said, ‘Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’
- Have you ever ordered Morning, ‘Get up!’ or told Dawn, ‘Get to work!’ So you could seize Earth like a blanket and shake out the wicked like cockroaches?
- Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things, explored the labyrinthine caves of the deep ocean?
- Do you know the first thing about death?
- Do you have one clue regarding death’s dark mysteries?
- And do you have any idea how large this earth is? Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer.
- Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives so you can take them by the hand and lead them home when they get lost?
- Have you ever traveled to where snow is made, seen the vault where hail is stockpiled, the arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness for times of trouble and battle and war?
- Can you find your way to where lightning is launched, or to the place from which the wind blows?
- Who do you suppose carves canyons for the downpours of rain, and charts the route of thunderstorms that bring water to unvisited fields, deserts no one ever lays eyes on, drenching the useless wastelands so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass?
- And who do you think is the father of rain and dew, the mother of ice and frost? You don’t for a minute imagine these marvels of weather just happen, do you?
- Can you catch the eye of the beautiful Pleiades sisters, or distract Orion from his hunt?
- Can you get Venus to look your way, or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play?
- Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations and how they affect things on Earth?
- Can you get the attention of the clouds, and commission a shower of rain?
- Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders?
- Who do you think gave weather-wisdom to the ibis, and storm-savvy to the rooster?
- Does anyone know enough to number all the clouds or tip over the rain barrels of heaven when the earth is cracked and dry, the ground baked hard as a brick?
- Can you teach the lioness to stalk her prey and satisfy the appetite of her cubs as they crouch in their den, waiting hungrily in their cave?
- And who sets out food for the ravens when their young cry to God, fluttering about because they have no food?”
- Do you know the month when mountain goats give birth?
- Are you the one who gave the horse his prowess and adorned him with a shimmering mane? Did you create him to prance proudly and strike terror with his royal snorts?
- Was it through your know-how that the hawk learned to fly, soaring effortlessly on thermal updrafts?
- Did you command the eagle’s flight, and teach her to build her nest in the heights, perfectly at home on the high cliff face, invulnerable on pinnacle and crag?
God then confronted Job directly: “Now what do you have to say for yourself? Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?”
When I think about God’s bombardment of questions towards Job, I think about the following image:
One moment, Job felt justified in questioning the Almighty for His actions. The next second, Job is literally blown away by God’s Holy Justifications and his own lack of reverence for a Being who owes no man an answer for anything He does.
Job stutters a response, “I’m speechless, in awe – words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” (Job 38-41, The Message)
As for me, I don’t know why God does what He does. I can’t understand His actions for myself, let alone explain them to my children. Just when I think I have God all figured out, He does something else that leaves me confused as ever. I think He likes it like that – not that He wants to confuse His children but rather wants to us recognize that He cannot be placed in any box we create. He won’t fit in my pocket. He won’t behave like a vending machine. He simply refuses to be predictable. He does what He wants, when He wants, how He wants, where He wants, for whatever reason He wants – simply because He is God. He owes me no explanations for His actions or inactions. I deserve no answers.
If His resume includes the creation of the Universe, I should trust Him. If His job description includes controlling the orbits of the planets, I owe Him some basic respect. If His voice can create the beauty of a sunset, the strength of an ant, the power of a Hurricane and speak forth light, I should pay closer attention to His instructions.
I have had my share of questions for God over the years. Some very personal, difficult questions. Some I have received answers to. Others I may not get answered this side of Heaven. I will have more questions for Him before I die. I need to put my “need to know” in perspective. He knows what He’s doing – even when He doesn’t keep me informed on every detail. I need to doubt less and trust more. Doubting questions can bring His rebuke. Just ask Zacharias (Luke 1:18). Trusting questions bring blessing. Just ask Mary (Luke 1:34).
As far as questions go, this much I know: When I get to Heaven, I will have one pressing question. Only one. It’s a fair and reasonable question.
“How in the world did someone like me end up in a place like this??”
It certainly won’t be because I lived a good life. My sins are as long as the road paved with gold.
The answer won’t be verbal. Words are not sufficient for a broken soul like mine. The radiant eyes of Christ light up at my question. It’s obvious from His huge smile that He is asked this same question daily. He doesn’t move because He doesn’t have to. He is already with me – giving me the undeserved hug of the prodigal son. It’s the embrace He has been giving for centuries – reserved for the missing child now finally home.
It will be the manifestation of GRACE. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
“For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)