I could feel the pain radiating off of her as I moved closer, putting my arm around her slumped shoulders.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” she muttered. “Why did it have to happen this way? What’s the point of hoping; of trying at all if God already has His master plan in place?”
My mind scrambled for an answer. Surely there was an answer that could satisfy her questioning; that would help her see that God was still good, even when the world hurt so bad.
“I don’t really know,” I said.
That’s it!? That’s the best you can come up with? My own thoughts betrayed me now as insecurity and doubt flooded my mind. You’re no help at all.
I shuddered, as if trying to shake free from the lies and accusations.
I could offer no answer. Even after years of studying and growing, I still did not know why life had to hurt so much; why God allowed certain things to happen; why He made us the way that He did – fragile and vulnerable and weak.
As we kept talking, I felt the old question simmering beneath all the theology and doctrine and ‘right’ answers – ‘oh God, are you sure you don’t mess up?’
I recently heard a song that explored this same line of questioning. In an interview, artist Hunter Hayes explains that ‘we wouldn’t honestly ask this question if we weren’t already certain of the answer. We know that God doesn’t mess up. If the opposite were even remotely possible, it would be a reality far too frightening to even consider.’ (Dear God, 2018)
So we ask the question as if to remind ourselves that He doesn’t mess up; that He didn’t mess us on us or His plans.
Doubt still overwhelms us though, doesn’t it? We still have unanswered questions. There are still doors that we’ve knocked on for years that remain closed; open-ended prayers that have yet to receive their ‘amen.’
I could see her disassociating herself now; drawing back into her autonomy and retreating deep into the recesses of her own mind. Fear and pain and the lack of answers has a way of convincing us that we’re better off on our own.
She didn’t draw back out of anger though. It wasn’t even out of pride or arrogance. She wasn’t shaking her fist at God, she was shaking her fist at herself. She was humiliated.
How could she ask such accusing questions of the One she loved? How could she be hurt by the One she trusted? Who was she to question the Perfect One?
You see, we don’t ask such a question to examine the character of God. No, we ask a question like this in examination of ourselves; knowing deep down that we have not lived up to the indescribable glory and perfection of the One who made us and calls us His own and that we never will.
Maybe that’s why we become so confused and frustrated by the way God created us. He made us this way after all, didn’t he? ‘He made us fragile. He made a heart that could break. He set us on the road less travelled knowing full well that we would run away.’ (Dear God, 2018)
Why, oh why God did you make me this way? Are you sure there’s nothing wrong with me?
I wish I could offer some kind of resolution to these questions; writing with conviction about how everything happens for a reason. The thing is though, these questions and doubts are not incompatible with faith like we might think they are. We don’t have to distance ourselves from God and faith just because we’re hurting and confused.
Consider the father in Mark 9:22-24 (NIV), pleading with Jesus to heal his son.
“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” Jesus said. “Everything is possible for the one who believes.”
This father knew that Jesus could rescue his son. Why else would he have travelled as far as he did and fought to gain and audience with Him? He still questioned Jesus’ goodness though; he still struggled with doubt and uncertainty.
The father in this story, much like us all, found himself stuck in doubt even when in the presence of Jesus himself. In response to Jesus’ gentle rebuke, the boy’s father immediately exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Are you stuck in doubt? Do you still find yourself asking that question; wondering if there might be something wrong with you, even though you know that God doesn’t mess up?
Do you believe, yet still struggle with unbelief?
Cry out to God! He hears you and He loves you. Don’t let those questions and doubts keep you from pressing into Him; into His truth and His love that does not weaken in the presence of unbelief.
This father wrestled with unbelief, but he came running nonetheless. He ran into the arms of his Father despite the doubts and fears that tried to keep him away.
Even when you don’t understand, run to Him, your loving Father and trust that He remains true to His character and does not mess up.