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Is it Sinful to Ask God "Why?"

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  • Updated Dec 16, 2016

We’ve all had a “Why God?” moment, whether it be something big like the unexpected death of a loved one, or something small like the car refusing to start on a day you’re running late. 

You don’t get a job you desperately need. Why God? 

After buying only necessities, you get a credit card bill that you still can’t afford. Why God?

You receive the news that a loved one has cancer. Why God?


Author Lysa TerKeurst writes in the blog Why Did This Happen, God? That it is natural to ask God why when things don’t go our way. 

She says our questions usually sound something like this:

“Why did this happen?

“Why didn’t You stop this, God?

“Why weren’t my prayers answered?”

It’s okay to ask why. It is not a sin. 

TerKeurst says, “Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us further from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.”

Christians need to know that there is a better question to ask than “Why?”

That question, TerKeurst says, is “What?”

“In other words: ‘Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?’”

Though the what question is not as easy to ask as the why question, TerKeurst has learned that the what question brings us much closer to God in unfavorable circumstances. 

She uses the what question to ask: 

“This is my reality. Now what am I going to do with it?

What can I learn from this?”

What part of this is for my protection?

What other opportunities could God be providing?

What maturity could God be building into me?”

The what question makes us think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is… praiseworthy” as we are told to do in Philippians 4:8

We stop dwelling on what is wrong when we ask what. We instead thank God for what is right — his constant goodness. 

TerKeurst writes, “Because even if our circumstances aren’t good, we can trust God’s purpose always is.” writer Rebecca Barlow Jordan says, “Bad news can turn our world upside down and push us into irrational conclusions, like ‘God has abandoned us,’ or ‘He doesn’t care.’ Human nature reaches for a reason, any reason—and for someone to blame. In our confusion, we often target God.”

But this is never the case. 

Barlow continues, “Now over five decades since I first gave my heart to God, I can trace activity in my life and see clearly that His track record of faithfulness is indisputable. I still fail and want to question, but He never seems to get tired of teaching me more about Himself. Part of that track record is indeed the fact that His promises have not failed in my own life—including His constant presence with me. So much so, that my life message has become, ‘God is faithful!’”

“...As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)


Carrie Dedrick is an editor of When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap. 

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Publication date: December 16, 2016