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God of Questions

Sometimes I revel in the mysteries of God. That he's always existed and always will exist. That he's Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three yet one. That he created our amazing planet—oceans, mountains, deserts, and the incredible variety of wildlife, not to mention people—from nothing. How do I possibly wrap my brain around that? The indefinable, enigmatic part of God's nature sends a shiver down my spine and reminds me how truly big he is—and how blessed I am that he not only cares for me, but knows me intimately (Psalm 139).

Sometimes, however, that mystifying, inexplicable side of God drives me crazy. Because all too often, I just don't understand why he allows the things he does. Why do wonderful, loving couples remain childless while others conceive, and throw away, babies seemingly on a whim? Why does a man who never touched a cigarette die of lung cancer while a two-pack-a-day smoker lives to a ripe old age? And why must a faithful, godly woman such as my mother bear the death of both her husband and an infant daughter while others remain untouched by such tragedy ?, I know, I know—we're living in a fallen world experiencing the consequences of its sin. I recognize that God is always in control, even when it feels as if he's missing from the equation. And I believe his promise that his plans are "to prosper [me] and not to harm [me], plans to give [me] hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

That doesn't mean I have to like it. And it definitely doesn't mean I don't experience moments of doubt, when I cry out, "Why, Lord? How could you? What were you thinking?"

I used to feel guilty about such thoughts. After all, God is … God. His ways are supposed to be beyond my comprehension, right? It's my job as his child to have unwavering faith in him. To believe without question.

Or maybe not.

In chapter 11 of his Gospel, John tells the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. For years I was so caught up in the miracle—I mean, Jesus brought the man back from death—that I never noticed the drama behind the scenes.

John tells us that Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Yet when he received word that Lazarus was sick, he didn't race to be by his side. In fact, he waited two whole days before hitting the road. By the time he reached Lazarus's hometown, the man had been dead four days.

Now here's where I find the story gets interesting. When the news came that Jesus was near, Martha went to meet him. But not Mary. This woman who dearly loved Jesus, who bought expensive perfume to pour on his feet and dried them with her hair, stayed home. Jesus had to ask for Mary. And though she immediately responded to his call, the first words out of her mouth tell me a lot about her state of mind: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:32). Or in other words, "How could you take so long to get here, Jesus? What were you thinking?"

I so relate to Mary here because I'd be asking the same question. How terrible it must have been for her, watching her brother get sicker and sicker, finally dying, and Jesus never came. Talk about feeling let down!

What I really love about this story, though, is Jesus' reaction. He's deeply moved by her grief. And he gets right down to the business at hand-raising Lazarus. What he doesn't do is scold her for questioning his actions.

And that gives my doubting, questioning heart comfort. Just as Jesus understood Mary's question, I believe he understands all of mine. After all, he created me and he knows me—as Psalm 139 says, he "perceives my thoughts from afar."

I've come more and more to believe that while God wants my obedience, he doesn't require that I give it without thought. Like any good parent, he patiently listens to my questions and does his best to answer them. And like any child, I'm not always going to have the ability to understand those answers.

But looking at the Bible, I'm in good company. Moses gave God a real run for his money before agreeing to head back to Egypt. Jonah not only questioned God's plan, he ran from it. And even Jesus, perfectly committed to his Father's will, double-checked to be sure there wasn't some other way of accomplishing his task.

Someday I'll trade this finite body for the infinite, and with it I'll gain complete understanding of God's perfect plan. But until that day comes, it's good to know God's patience won't run out. That he not only understands and accepts all my questions—he loves me in spite of them.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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