Questioning doesn't mean doubting.
Isaiah 1:18 (NLT2) “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
In fact there are a number of places, in scripture, where people ask God questions and sometimes they ask for proof. Let me be clear I’m talking about questioning not doubting.
When we question God, we aren't saying that we don't believe due to our limitation, we are saying I want more information. I wrote and published a post several years ago where I said that doubt doesn't equally unbelief (Faith vs. Doubt The Battle of Our Lives). It's OK to question God as long as our motivation is not about us. It's about God. We don't question God to say we think he is making the wrong decision. We are questioning God to help us understand. We are asking God for more details and a clearer direction.
Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
When we do question God we can let him know we are frustrated and upset. Even David cried out to God with anger.
Psalm 22:1-2 NIV My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
We can tell God what we like and don't like about the situation. We can even tell him we are afraid. But bottom-line, in it all we have to come to that place of trust. God chooses to reveal what he wants, when he wants. Asking God keeps us in a balanced relationship with God, whereas doubting keeps things one-way.
A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction. Depending on your maturity in Christ, we can often doubt God. We might question what he is doing in our lives. We see things happen around us and we can get so blinded by the enemy. We don't see how God is going to help us out of the situation. We simply settle on man's best vs. God's best. Because God doesn't work on our timetable we give up, losing our trust in him.
When we doubt, we become very self-focused. You forget how God has come through in so many other situations in your life, or how he is going to come through in the future. We doubt God when we truly do not believe who he says he is and what he is. We have to learn to trust God, to be obedient, no matter what. Please understand, if God has appointed you, he has then anointed you; he will equip you and always provide. This is God's process with his children, his heirs. Because of this truth, we have no need to ever doubt. Doubt comes from the enemy, not from God, whereas questioning can be from God.
I'm not talking about those times we are asking for guidance or permission like David and others Kings asking if they should attack their enemies and if they did if He would guarantee victory. I'm talking about questioning one of God’s decisions of asking for proof the He really meant what He said.
Gideon asked for proof and he asked twice.
Judges 6:13, 15-15, 17-18, 36-40 NIV “Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” “Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
Jeremiah questioned God.
Jeremiah 15:15-18 NIV Lord , you understand; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering—do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake. When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty. I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.
Jeremiah 20:7-8 NIV You deceived me, Lord , and I was deceived ; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.
Habakkuk questioned God.
Habakkuk 1:2-3 NIV 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.
The problem is many people often question God with a rebellious untrusting heart not truly trying to get an answer from the Him.
They try to attack the character of God because God allowed something to happen. Attacking God’s character is dangerously close to blasphemy.
We can’t see the future so we don’t know what God has planned for our lives, and we can't see the things He’s doing behind the scenes. Sometimes we might say, “why God” and later find out the reason that God did this and that.
It’s one thing to ask God why and another thing to doubt His goodness and His existence. In confusing situations pray for wisdom and expect an answer.
James 1:5 (NLT2) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
Give God thanks daily and trust in the Lord with all your heart because He knows what He’s doing.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
It all goes back to motive. If it’s because we are trying to delay obedience to the Lord, if it is coming from a prideful heart that says, 'I know better than God,' if we question God's authority, those are the wrong motives.
If, however, we question because we desperately want to know the answer, because we desperately want to know who our Lord truly is, because we need to see the light in the midst of our own confusion, those are right motives.
There’s a significant difference between questioning that brings wisdom and a fuller understanding of God and the kind of questioning that simply seeks to validate your own thinking.
Was He Really a Doubting Thomas?
By Greg Laurie
Thomas, one of Jesus' disciples, had the nickname Doubting Thomas, but I think that is a bit unfair. I have always thought of Thomas as more of a skeptic than a doubter. After all, Thomas did not ask for a special revelation from Jesus. He simply asked for the same proof the other disciples had (see John 20:25). Thomas was the kind of guy who wanted to know for himself. He was his own man. He would not let others do his thinking for him.
What did Jesus do with such a man? He made a special resurrection appearance for him. He condescended to Thomas and his desire to know for himself. What amazes me about this is that Jesus came to Thomas on his level. He didn't rebuke him. He didn't humiliate him. He could see that deep down in Thomas's heart, he really wanted to know God. Jesus came to him and said, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing" (John 20:27).
I like Thomas, because by nature I, too, am a skeptical person. I have never been one to believe something just because someone says it is true.
You might be someone who is a bit skeptical, a bit unsure of your faith. You may have a lot of questions. Deep down inside, you want to know God. You want to know for yourself. The risen Lord has something for you. He can turn your skepticism into belief.
Just come to Him with your questions. Come to Him with your doubts. You, too, will be able to say, "My Lord and my God!"
Taken from "New Knowledge for the Skeptic" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).