Question mark in Moreton Hall, Weston Rhyn, United Kingdom

A Question Can be an Act of Faith

I love the Psalms. I keep coming back to them. Some are continually stuck on repeat in my head and heart. One reason I love the Psalms because they are the most “human” part of the Bible. There is an earthiness to them that reminds us that helps us see that God cares about the entirety of the human experience. That includes those times when we wonder if God is listening. If he sees—or if he even cares. Those moments when we find ourselves asking, “God, where are you?”

Why Are We Afraid to Ask?

Psalm 10 opens with that very question. “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you pay no attention during times of trouble” (Psalm 10:1). This question is asked throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. David asks it in Psalm 55. It comes up again in Psalms 44:24, 88:14, and 89:46. The prophet Habbakuk opens his writing the same way. Jeremiah does it too. God’s people ask this question frequently. So why don’t we? Because we’re afraid to ask it.

But why? What makes us afraid to ask a question that the Bible does? Whether it’s been explicitly taught or implicitly caught, some of us have absorbed the belief that to question God in any way is the slippery slope to apostasy. That to ask is to doubt. When we believe that, any question, any uncertainty, can make us feel like our faith is in jeopardy.

But this isn’t what the Bible teaches or shows. Instead, it points us to a bigger and better reality. Because, while there is a kind of questioning that is rooted in unbelief, what we see modeled in Psalm 10 is not that. Were that the case, Abraham should have been killed on the spot for daring to ask, “Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25) The same goes for the countless other times we see the same sort of questions and petitions raised throughout Scripture. The Psalms and prophetic writings point us to the truth that it is safe to ask. More than that, they encourage us to ask.

But why? Because to ask is itself an act of faith.

When Asking is an Act of Faith

The Psalmist questions God because he is at the end of his rope. He knows what God has said about justice and mercy and compassion. He knows the commands of God, that he is to love the Lord with all of his heart and to love his neighbor as himself. But he looks around and sees something other than that.

“In arrogance, the wicked hotly pursue the poor… For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul… In the pride of his face, the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 10:2–4, ESV).

Feeling disheartened and deflated in the face of prevailing evil makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s a natural response when we look around and not only see people doing evil but seeming to get away with it. Worse, because God seemed to be doing nothing, the wicked were emboldened. So how could he not ask, “Where are you?”

But here’s what makes the question an act of faith. Buried within it is the assumption that God is good. That he is just, and he cares about what is happening to the oppressed. And more than that, that he will act on their behalf. That’s what makes this question good and right and true. It is not rooted in unbelief. It is based in the Psalmist’s knowledge of God’s character, nature, and promises. God cares for the oppressed. He is a father to the fatherless. A friend to the helpless. He defends the defenseless.

So to ask God, “Where are you” like the Psalmist does, is to call upon God to act according to his nature. To do what is right because of who he is, and what he has promised.

When the World is on Fire, Act in Faith

We are all going to experience times like the Psalmist described because we live in a world where it still happens. Where the wicked boast and brazenly defy God’s will, thinking that he does not care. That he will not act.

Maybe that’s where you’re at today. You’re struggling with the evils of this world and you don’t know what to do. When that’s the case, the best thing any of us can do is to be honest. To turn to God and ask him, “Why do you stand far off—will you act?” Because we can be confident that he will act. We know the end of the story. We know that while evil might seem to prevail for a while, it will not be so forever. Jesus will put an end to it all. Justice will be served. The oppressed will be vindicated.

So do not be afraid. When the world is on fire, we need to act in faith. And sometimes, acting in faith means asking a question.

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

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