Many years ago, I taught a class on what it meant to experience God. One of the sessions dealt with how to respond to doubts about God's presence or even existence when dealing with hard things.
A sweet couple attending the class revealed that neither one had ever doubted God nor had a moment when they questioned what God was up to.
They said they simply accepted everything that happened to them or the world around them as God's will.
"I would never dream of questioning God," the lady told the class.
The rest of the class was quiet for a while, but finally, an older lady spoke up and said, "Not everyone feels that way. I have a lot of questions for God. I hope I get to ask them one day and get some answers."
I believe many faithful people practice their faith in such a way that they nod to both of those points of view. They have struggled to understand why bad things happen, but they save their questions for "one day."
So, many of us resign ourselves to the notion that we won't ever find answers in this life, so why bother asking? It's easier to keep moving, stuff our struggles deep down inside of us, and try to find peace on our own--even if it never comes.
We also lose sight of the fact that surrendering ourselves to God doesn't mean we must adopt a no-questions-asked mentality for fear of incurring God's displeasure.
Author Jackie Hill Perry addressed this very thing so beautifully:
Uncovering what hurts, hurts. Thinking about whatever is unclear is frustrating. If you decide not to ask God any questions regarding these things, you can go on with your life, maintain your sense of control and manufactured peace. But to do that is to deny yourself the opportunity of giving God your whole self.
I've said this before, but I'll repeat it because it bears repeating: God can handle our questions. Further, if the God we believe in doesn't want to be questioned, we must rethink what we think about God.
Chances are, if we think God doesn't want to be questioned, we do not really believe in God, but a god that we've constructed from our own subconscious to either fulfill or reflect some deep-seated fear that is a response to religious trauma.
It's always challenging to uncover what hurts. Uncertainty isn't comfortable.
But we have a choice. We can choose to never live a self-examined life, or we can throw back the curtains to the windows of our soul and let the light shine in to reveal what it may.
It might be easier to staunchly claim that God is at the root of our struggles and that our job is to just endure it because it's God's will, but that's not a valid thing, no matter how we wish it for simplicity's sake.
Life is lifey. Things that are absolutely not God-driven or God-caused happen to us and around us.
God is not giving us a test to see whether we pass. God is with us as we walk through the hardships and the valleys of death. God is beside us, even as we suffer, mourning as we mourn.
And we can draw near to that God in complete intimacy if we choose. We can surrender ourselves to God by simply desiring God's presence and the comfort it brings when we no longer wish to be in control.
We can also draw nearer still to this God by wondering why. We can ask many questions without fear that God will leave us standing in the dark. We can scream them into what might feel like the void, but it is anything but.
And what seems like the void is the same stillness, the same "no-thing-ness" that the prophets and poets in every age have come to understand as the eternal, universal Divine presence that doesn't need an earthquake, thunder, and lightning to reveal Godself.
All it needs is a voice speaking from within us that says: "I am," or more accurately translated from the ancient Hebrew, "I am... for you."
May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.