Thesis: It is o.k. to question God, just don't get stuck there.
1. Illust. There's an old story about a Jewish tailor named Lev Ashram who goes to a synagogue to pray. On his way out he meets a rabbi. "Well, what have you been doing in the synagogue, Lev Ashram?" the rabbi asks. "I was saying my prayers," said Lev Ashram. "And did you confess your sins?" the rabbi asked. "Yes, rabbi. I confessed my little sins." RABBI: "Your little sins?" LA: "Yes, I confessed that I sometimes cut my cloth on the short side, and that I cheat on a yard of wool by a couple of inches." RABBI: "You said that to God, Lev Ashram?" LA: "Yes, rabbi, and more. I said, `Lord, I cheat on pieces of cloth; you let little babies die. I'll make you a deal. You forgive me my little sins and I'll forgive you your great big ones.'"
2. Our world is full of people who do not believe in God. And if you ask, this is what they'll say: "If there is a God, how could he let so many bad things happen?"
a. < If there is a God ... >
1) Why do tiny little babies die?
2) Why do 11-yr. old girls get leukemia?
3) Why do innocent people get killed by drunk drivers?
4) Why do 6 million Jews get incinerated for no other reason than the fact they're Jews?
5) Why do 38 yr. old men--in the prime of life, with a job and family-- get cancer and not know if they're going to live or die?
b. Those are tough questions. Dare we ask them?
c. I do not presume to know a lot about suffering. In my brief life I've done very little of it. But the Bible has a lot to say about it. And one of the clearest things it has to say about it is this ... It is o.k. to question God.
I. IT IS O.K. TO QUESTION GOD.
A. Religious people aren't used to questioning God.
1. Illust. The Psalmist says: "The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings." Which, in real language means: "Being God means never having to say you're sorry!" We just kind of accept that.
2. We're not used to questioning God, we're used to defending him! (It never occurs to us that God can probably take care of himself!)
3. We want to find reasons for all the bad stuff that happens.
a. Illust. And so we say things like: "Life is like a mish-mash of gray, black, and white tiles on a large floor in a public place. Up close they don't seem to be arranged in a pattern at all. But climb the balcony and look down and a beautiful design appears."
b. Illust. Or we say things like: "Life is a like a tapestry--light and dark, good and bad, happy and sad. God is a great weaver. The pain in our lives is all a part of it and will only makes the good stand out better!
c. There may be elements of truth in these things, but try telling them to someone who's suffering. Sounds pretty hollow.
B. I believe Christians are too quick to go to Rom. 8:28--"All things work together for good"--and skip this whole matter of questioning God. We need to question God!
1. Oh, there are times when we don't need to:
a. Person who abuses their body with drugs, alcohol, food, or tobacco should not be surprised to find themselves on "a
hospital bed of affliction."
b. Person who cheats on their husband/wife shouldn't be surprised when mate leaves and their lives fall apart.
c. Sin carries its own "price tag." No need to ask why.
2. There are times when it is o.k. to question God--it sounds incredible but he really doesn't seem to mind.
b. Job 7:17-20; 13:20-26; 16:7-14.
II. IT'S O.K. TO QUESTION GOD ... BUT THEN WHAT?
A. Don't expect an answer--at least not one that will satisfy you.
1. Illust. C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed, writes after the death of his wife to cancer: "When you're happy, so happy that you don't have any sense of needing God, if you turn to him with praise you'll be welcomed with open arms. But go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, a sound of bolting and double-bolting on the inside & after that, silence. You may as well turn away."
2. What do you do when you question God & you're still not satisfied?
B. That's the question of the book of Habakkuk! (Things are bad, wickedness abounds; Habakkuk just can't stand it anymore.)