Editor’s note: Today's article is the sixth in a series about "fine line" areas of our lives. Areas where we struggle to discern truth from sin. Areas we prefer not to deal with so that we can continue living on the edge, where the "fine line" is. Click here to read about Happiness vs. Joy, Judging vs. Accountability, Loneliness vs. Alone-ness, Gossip vs. Venting, and Lust vs. Love.

Part 6: A Fine Line: Doubt vs Questioning.

God, why? Why do you allow me to be in this place? Things are going so well and then bam, catastrophe. I am dating this great guy, things seem to be going well... and then he breaks up with me. Lord, why would allow this to happen? Why would you let my heart be broken like that? Also Lord, every time I save up just a bit of money, something breaks in my house. And my job. Yes Lord, it's a job to me. Is this all there is in life? Get up, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed and then do it all over again? God, are you there? Are you listening? Do you really care at all?

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Maybe your crisis of belief is more when dealing with your kids, your ex, or your extended family. Maybe you doubt God when you don't feel his presences every day. Maybe you have asked God to heal your body from cancer, diabetes, or a broken relationship. Or maybe you just simply feel alone and you aren't sure if God is out there.

Note: this article is not about whether or not you believe there is a God. It's about believing, but knowing there is a difference between doubting who God is vs. questioning what he does.

DOUBTING IS:

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.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

QUESTIONING IS:

When we question God, we aren't saying that we don't believe due to our limitation, we are saying I want more information. 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.

When we do question God we can let him know we are frustrated and upset. Even David cried out to God with anger. 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.

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 (Deuteronomy 29:29).

The Fine Line Revealed:

In order to know where the fine line is for doubting vs. questioning God, the Bible gives us numerous examples of people who also doubted and questioned God. Spend some time reading their stories. See if you can pick out the differences.

Nicodemus

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4)

Moses 

But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” (Exodus 6:12)

The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said (Exodus 19:9).

The Pharisees

"Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” (Matthew 22:17)

Thomas

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).

Zechariah

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18).

Gideon

“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” (Judges 6:13).

Mary, Mother of Jesus

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

Job

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:20-22).

Bottom line, we all have times where we question God, even doubt. We can easily get fixed on the limits of this world and forget about an unlimited world of God. For myself, I often start to question God when my provision isn't where I would like it to be. I question God on speaking events, the audience, and work issues. But every time God comes through. He reminds me of how special we all are. He reminds me to trust him. He reminds me that he loves us. And that all is for our good, and for his glory.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).

Kris Swiatocho is the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is the author of three books: Singles and Relationships: A 31-Day Experiment (co-authored with Dick Purnell of Single Life Resources); From the Manger to the Cross: The Women in Jesus' Life; and the most recent, Jesus, Single Like Me with Study Questions (includes a leader's guide and conference/retreat of the same name). Kris is currently working on her fourth book: FAQ's of Singles Ministry coming 2013.

TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries helps churches, pastors and single adult leaders evaluate, develop and support their single adult ministries through high-energy speaking engagements, results-oriented consulting and training and leadership development conferences and seminars. Click here to request a FREE "How to Start a Single Adult Ministry" guide.  

FromHisHands.com Ministries is Kris' speaking ministry. If you've ever heard her speak, you know that Kris is the kind of speaker who keeps the crowd captivated, shares great information and motivates people to make a difference in the lives of those around them! She speaks to all church audiences on everything from "first impression" ministry to women's topics to singles and young adults. She can speak on a Sunday morning, at a woman's retreat or for a single adults conference. Bring Kris to your church today!

Publication date: April 9, 2013