Have you ever found yourself asking questions about God? When we’re going through life trials or life is confusing, we tend to ask God questions such as “Where is God?” Maybe asking questions about God can feel uncomfortable, or even blasphemous, but the reality is that God created us to be curious beings. I invited author Lore Ferguson Wilbert to join us on the podcast to discuss how a real relationship with God allows room for God questions (including how to better understand God’s love for us) and provides opportunities to discover more of who He is and who we are in Him.
Don’t miss this conversation as Lori and I discuss some of the questions we ask about God, including those she mentions in her excellent book A Curious Faith, and how curiosity can strengthen our relationship with God.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [07:21] Navigating life’s challenges and staying connected to God through asking questions
- [11:58] What keeps us from asking God questions?
- [16:46] How asking God questions and owning emotions can move us closer to God
- [23:24] Finding hope and security when you’re surrounded by God questions
- [28:15] Resting in God’s love when we struggle with shame and questions about acceptance
- [36:15] The power of asking God the question, “What do you want to say to me?”
- [38:37] Questions Lore is currently asking God
- [40:44] How to open yourself up to curious questions to strengthen your relationship with God
- [43:41] First steps: Becoming more comfortable in your questions about God
[07:21] Navigating life’s challenges and staying connected to God through asking questions
Lore shares how she has kept her faith strong and navigated her most challenging trials by asking God honest questions. For example, she shares that, as God’s children, we are told that God is good and we have a broad understanding of what “God is good” truly means. However, when we’re faced with a life challenge, we’re often forced to ask God the question of “Are there shades of gray to what goodness is?”
We know that God is love and that He loves us but what does that mean?, she says. Being able to ask questions, especially when we come to a space in our faith that these black and white answers can’t carry us through is extremely important. God is not afraid of us asking questions such as “Well, what does your goodness mean?” so we have to believe that there's an answer that might be different than what we previously believed.
Lore shares that absolute truth does exist but that doesn’t mean that we fully understand it. God is absolute truth and He is far too complex for us to understand every facet of who He is.
1 Corinthians 13:12 says, For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
As we grow in Christ on this side of heaven, we're moving nearer to that moment where we will see His absolute truth with clarity. Until that day, we're continuing to be refined, and that dim glass continues to be cleared a little at a time.
[11:58] What keeps us from asking God questions?
While it varies for each of us, Lore believes that fear is a big factor in why many of us aren’t asking God questions.
She shares that many of us wonder:
- What if I find out something about God that makes me feel uncomfortable?
- What if I find out something about God that makes me change my life?
Lore mentions a quote from T.S. Eliot about how asking questions will disturb someone’s universe and she believes that is just the risk we take when we ask those tough questions of God, ourselves, or others. Asking those hard questions is going to change something, she adds, whether it changes your relationship with God or just broadens your knowledge. That is a bit of a scary risk and Lore doesn’t blame a single person for not wanting to risk what's on the other side of asking a hard question.
Alicia mentions that in a world where there is so much uncertainty, our faith is supposed to be a solid foundation, but if it is truly a relationship, there has to be the opportunity for questions, dialogue, or understanding with God.
Lore believes that our faith isn’t meant to be rock solid. While Jesus himself is rock solid, our faith isn’t always that way. We get to fix our eyes on Him but that doesn't mean we won't sometimes look away or even be afraid to meet His gaze, she says.
Lore admits that fear has kept her from asking God questions in the past too, whether that is fear of change or fear of loss. She explains that often our beliefs are deeply entwined with our faith communities as a whole. When we ask questions, it could change the relationships that we have with our friend groups and our faith communities, and that is certainly a big risk.
Another reason Lore has shied away from asking questions is because she doesn’t always know which questions to ask. This is why Lore loves the Bible as it gives us a permission slip to ask questions.
[16:46] How asking God questions and owning emotions can move us closer to God
She shares a story about an experience she had in counseling where her therapist asked her and her husband if they were able to share their feelings instead of just their logical thoughts.
Lore believes that Christian culture has conditioned us to disregard our feelings of grief or anger. She shares that there’s an expectation that we should bounce back quickly from tough emotions with a simple answer instead of taking time to process difficult emotions and work through them at our own pace.
We need to be okay with acknowledging our feelings of sadness or anger because God has given us the ability to express emotions for a reason, she says. For example, if we are angry about something it doesn’t do us any good to pretend we’re not angry nor does it do any good to hold onto that anger either.
Instead, we can ask our anger a question such as, “what are you showing me that God wants to heal in me?”
Lore finds that a lot of the time the anger that we are feeling is rooted in grief. It can also be rooted in disappointment, fear, or anxiety which are all things that God wants to heal.
Lore believes that we should also strive to do this in friendships. For example, say a friend comes to us and they are angry about something. It can be really easy for us to continue fueling that anger. Instead, Lore recommends asking them what they are angry about so that we can help them get to the root cause of their anger and see the situation from a different perspective.
Alicia reminds us that God can't really deal with the source of our anger unless we are in those situations where we feel it and we see it so it is important to go back to the truth and uncover why we’re feeling the way that we are.
[23:24] Finding hope and security when you’re surrounded by God questions
In her book, Lore shares that we're afraid of the outcome of weak faith, tenuous belief, or frail behavior so we pretend we've got it all together and that we never feel like God is hiding from us. We try to appear as if we're always certain of every single point of doctrine we espouse.
Lore’s reality, like many of us, is that she can’t think of a single year of her life where she hasn’t felt disappointed in an outcome of something she prayed for, or a time when she hasn’t been disappointed in God in some way. She recalls one of her former pastors used to talk about the habit of putting God “in our debt,” this idea that if we do enough of the right things God will somehow owe us something, but God doesn't owe us anything.
For Lore, one of the bigger issues she struggled with was not being able to have children after praying for a family. She had to come to a place where she could say, “Is God good, regardless? If I did everything right, and we still cannot have children, is God still good in that?”
She shares that one of the sweetest exercises of her life has been to see what could be seen as the withholding of blessing, and instead say that God's goodness can still be found in that space because his blessing does not depend on her having done things in a particular way or having been perfectly obedient.
God's Word says that it rains on the just and the unjust, she reminds us, so we have to reckon with the reality that He doesn't bless us in the exact ways we want to be blessed or in our perfect timing. Sometimes He withholds what we might see as a blessing, but none of that is contingent on our actions and faithfulness.
During these times, Lore finds comfort in Psalm 16.
[28:15] Resting in God’s love when we struggle with shame and questions about acceptance
Do you wrestle with the question of how you can “get right” with God? Many of the women Alicia has worked with have struggled with this idea of having to perform for others, people pleasing, perfectionism, things like that. We know Jesus's answer is that the only thing we need to do is to believe that His completed work on the cross is enough, but somewhere inside of us we want the answer to be that there is something we have to do. We want the bad core of ourselves to be made good by good works that we do. The thing is, none of that works.
We have to remember that Jesus is the author and the finisher of our race. He's the one who completes everything perfectly, not us. There's nothing we can do to earn His love, and yet we are totally loved and wholly seen by Him.
In her book, A Curious Faith, Lore introduces a section on questions we wish someone would ask us which includes a chapter titled, “Who Condemned You?” In this chapter, she shares her thoughts on why a lot of us stay in shame. Alicia really resonated with this chapter because she believes that a lot of us try to clean ourselves up or “stop sinning” because we're trying to please God, versus living a certain way out of love, knowing that we’re already forgiven.
With this habit in mind, Lore shares that resting in God's love has been the most life-changing decision for her, and helped her get to a place where she doesn't feel condemnation in the presence of God. In the chapter referenced above, Lore dives into the passage in the Bible that discusses the woman caught in the act of adultery. This woman is brought before Jesus as sort of a trap by the Pharisees. Typically, when we think of that scene in Scripture, we think of Jesus saying to the woman, “Go and sin no more” or when he says “he who is without sin cast the first stone, ‘ but there is something that happens between those two statements that is often overlooked. After the Pharisees have left, Jesus says to the woman “Who condemns you?” What he's communicating is “I haven't condemned you. Those men are no longer condemning you. The only person in this scenario who could possibly be condemning you is yourself.”
Asking ourselves the question, “Who condemns you?” is a powerful opportunity to reflect on the love God has for us and can move us out of shame and into a more secure, free mindset where we can embrace “Go and sin no more” from the right perspective.
[36:15] The power of asking God the question, “What do you want to say to me?”
Lore shares that a really powerful exercise she’s been practicing is to sit with the person of Jesus in her prayer time, and ask, “Jesus, what do you want to say to me?” It has helped her with the courage to ask questions as they come. She reminds us that God sent His Son to come and be incarnate, to walk among us as flesh and blood. She feels that often as Christians, we can make our faith an emotional or mental thing instead of an embodied thing, but it’s important to remember that we still have access to the Jesus who walked among us.
When we take time to sit before God and ask and listen, we enter a deeper, more spiritual place to live in. It highlights the idea of being transparent with God by sitting in those quiet everyday moments and being intentional about seeing Him everywhere.
[38:37] Questions Lore is currently asking God
Knowing the importance of asking questions, Lore shared a very personal, candid view into the questions she’s asking in her faith right now.
She and her husband are currently questioning and exploring the inspired Word of God, or the inerrant Word of God. She says they both came from an environment where one of those is just what everyone believes and practices. As they approach what she describes as a juxtaposition in their lives, they realized they have never actually studied or thought through these beliefs, so now that is their intention.
In a truly beautiful, vulnerable moment, Lore describes this experience as trying her faith in some ways, because when asking those questions about inerrancy can lead to topics or understandings that feel a little uncomfortable or scary. They are currently focused on delving deeper into these questions as they ask God for guidance.
[40:44] How to open yourself up to curious questions to strengthen your relationship with God
If you find yourself feeling stuck in your relationship with God, and aren’t sure what to do with all your questions, Lore has a few suggestions that may help you to cultivate a mindset of curiosity.
Lore suggests reading poetry that will cause you to think and will help you in the practice of curiosity and stretching your brain. She also suggests spending time in nature, getting close to the forest floor, or the Earth's floor.
In order to cultivate questions about God, she encourages us to practice taking a closer look at God’s work. She notes that we walk past God’s creation blindly at times, and the more we focus on it the more we’ll be able to see how complex He (and His creation) really are. Creation itself is just a tiny little pinhole view of how complex God is, she says, but it can give us permission to see his complexity. It’s important in these moments to know that God is not afraid of his complexity. He made us curious because He wants to be found, so we don't have to be afraid of curiosity.
[43:41] First steps: Becoming more comfortable in your questions about God
It's amazing how much connection there can be when we sit honestly before each other, even as people who have never met before. This was the first time Alicia had ever had a conversation with Lore, and Alicia noted that there was so much honesty and transparency present for them to sit and say, “I love Jesus, I follow Jesus, and there are these things that I'm wrestling with.”
When you can operate from that perspective of knowing how fully loved you are, as we talked about in this conversation, there's freedom to love and to serve and to give back to God without condition or expectation.
Some of the questions and experiences that we discussed were definitely trigger points that may have sparked something in you. If it did, Alicia would love to talk to you more about that on Instagram (follow Alicia and connect with her here). If after listening to this episode or reaching out on Instagram, you feel there's some things that you need to wrestle through with God that are really affecting your perspective of yourself and your relationship with Him, Alicia invites you to join her in the Christian Mindset Makeover.
In week two of the Christian Mindset Makeover, Alicia talks about asking questions of God because this practice is an essential part of relationship with God and of standing strong in our identity. We need to have space to wrestle and understand what our questions are and why they exist. After we come to that level of awareness, we can understand how we can reframe them to not only line up with God's truth, but to process them so we can be free from the baggage and the difficulty of carrying these questions in silence.
Connect with Lore:
NEXT STEPS: Grow Closer to God and Learn to Hear His Loving Voice as You Study about God's Love in the “I Am Loved” Bible Study Course
Are you walking through a difficult season and really need to know that God is with you and that He loves you?
“How have you learned what love is and how to receive love?”
There are 4 weeks of daily homework sheets, weekly devotionals, plus powerful coaching questions—all inside a beautiful full-color Bible study magazine.
PLUS the “I Am Loved Study” also includes access to weekly video teaching sessions from me to help you understand and apply what you’re learning. This is an ON-DEMAND study, meaning you can start it just when you need it.
Experience confident joy as God's love renews your mind
Find peace as God's love helps you release worry and fear
Rediscover hope as God's love offers a new perspective on life's trials
Don’t let another day go by without experiencing the peace, confidence + joy that comes from knowing (in your head and your heart!) that you are loved by God!
Join us now for this life-changing Bible study on God's love!