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Is it OK to Ask God 'Why?'

  • Katie Faris Author
  • 2022 1 Jun
Is it OK to Ask God 'Why?'

Do you ever find yourself asking God "why"? Maybe it sounds like this: Lord, why am I the one who…? Why aren't things going the way I hoped? Why are you allowing this challenge in my life? Or it could be some other form of why me, why now, why this? Perhaps it's even why not…?

If you're anything like me, whether or not you've put it in so many words, you have asked God some of these questions. But have you ever wondered if it's ok to ask God “why”?

The Bible Is Full of Questions

Lots of people in the Bible asked God questions. Moses queried God about what name he should use to refer to Him (Exodus 3:13). Mary wanted to know how she could carry the Son of God when she was a virgin (Luke 1:34). Jesus asked his Father, if he were willing, to remove the cup of his wrath (Luke 22:42). None of them were rebuked for it, and we know that Jesus never sinned (1 Peter 2:22), so it must not be inherently wrong to ask God questions. There must be a place for us to bring ours to the Lord also.

But is there something different about asking why? Let's consider a few more illustrations. Job wanted to know, "Why did I not die at birth?" (Job 3:11) and "Why is light given to him who is in misery?" (Job 3:20); Jeremiah wondered, "Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?" (Jeremiah 12:1); and in his messianic psalm, David desperately pleaded, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?" (Psalm 22:1) These biblical examples assure us that, yes, there are times when it's ok to ask God why. More than that, Scripture itself guides us, giving us words we can echo when we bring our own godly lament before the Lord.

We're invited to "pour out [our hearts] before him" (Psalm 62:8), and this includes our questions. The problem is that our hearts are also "deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9). Just because it's permissible to bring our questions to the Lord doesn't mean that we always do so in a godly way.

Our Hearts Behind Our Questions

When three of my children were diagnosed with the same serious genetic condition, waves of grief poured into our home. With them came a host of questions. I didn't know why God had allowed this condition, what it would mean for the future, or how to pray.

Trials can cause us to ask questions about God's character, his purposes, and his ways. But what if those questions go unanswered—especially over a long period of time? And what if we don't like God's answers? Do we put up a fight? Do we run away from him? Or do we humble ourselves, trusting that his ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)?

In these moments, our true hearts are revealed. All along, have we been bringing our questions to God with humility, postured to accept his will, or with demands, wanting him to bend to ours? Have we approached the Lord with sincerity, or have we prejudged him? And, if our hearts betray us, is there any recourse?

We Need God's Help

We need God's help to live with unanswered questions; to trust him even if he doesn't answer our prayers the way we would like, and even when our circumstances don't change and we don't see how God is working them for our good. We can't do this on our own.

When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sinful patterns of thought or behavior toward God, the appropriate response is repentance. This means we turn away from whatever sin has entrapped us, we confess it to the Lord, and we ask for his forgiveness. The apostle John assures us that "If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

And when we're tempted afresh, the apostle Paul reminds us that "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

A Supernatural Prayer

After my children's diagnosis, I didn't always know how or what to pray. But I came to understand what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26).

It's natural for our suffering to lead us to ask questions of God and even to ask him to take away our suffering. It's the work of the Holy Spirit that enables us to offer our suffering to the Lord and pray instead, "Even if our trials never change, please use them to change us—to help us know, love, and trust you more. Lord, show us your true character, teach us to cling to your promises, and enable us to honor you in our afflictions."

When we pray in this way, we find that God's grace truly is sufficient, and his power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Our hope isn't found—and has never been found—in having all of our questions answered but in knowing and trusting the God whose ways are beyond our comprehension.

What We Do Know

Some of our questions—including why—may never be answered. There's much we don't understand and may never grasp. But consider this: "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever" (Deuteronomy 29:29). While there may be secrets surrounding our perplexities that belong to the Lord alone, a great deal has been revealed to us. Indeed, the greatest thing has been revealed to us: God's ultimate sovereign plan for redemption through Christ.

After suffering tremendous losses of wealth, property, and even the death of his ten children, right in the middle of his pain, Job professed:

"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another." (Job 19:25-27)

As those who experience our own griefs and questions, we too hope in our Redeemer. And the one Job hoped for from a distance, we can know as Savior and Lord.

*All Scripture references are in the English Standard Version.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/The Good Brigade

He will be enough book coverKatie Faris is a pastor’s wife and mother to five children—who also loves to write. She is the author of He Will Be Enough and Loving My Children; writes articles for The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, and more; and blogs at katiefaris.com. She lives with her family in New Jersey.