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God, Where Are You?Finding Your Faith in Dark Times
By KIRKIE MORRISSEY
NAVPRESSCopyright © 2002 Kirkie Morrissey
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhat Do I Do with My Questions?
Have circumstances in your own life or someone else's ever caused you to question God's character? For example, has the pain of the death of someone you love cast doubts about God's goodness?
Or maybe you've suffered abuse and struggled with the question, "Why didn't God help me?"
In addition to personal difficulties, terrible events in the world might also challenge your faith. When the United States suffered the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, many people struggled, wondering, "Where was God?" In such times when circumstances and feelings seemingly contradict what we believe about God, what we do with our questions is critical.
We might feel guilty when we entertain questions concerning the character of God. Perhaps we fleetingly muse, "God, are You really good?" Then suddenly guilt surges through us and we think, "How terrible to consider such a thing!" Or perhaps we fear we'll discover that God isn't who we think He is. How threatening! So we quickly deny, ignore, or bury our doubts deep within.
Yet is it wrong to doubt? If we succumb to such doubts, do we need to feel guilty? More important, is there any reason to fear asking thesehard questions? How would God have us handle the tough questions that plague us? Let's take an honest look at these issues.
1. How do you typically respond to your own doubts about God? What about when others express their doubts? Can you give any examples?
2. As you consider the issue of doubts, it's important to examine various attitudes you might have about asking questions.
A. What do you discover from each of the following passages? Record who was asking, what that person's attitude was, and what resulted.
B. Do you think people today have these same attitudes? Do you recognize any patterns in yourself? If so, what?
3. In Mark 9:30-32, the disciples didn't understand Jesus. Yet they were afraid to find out what He meant, so they didn't ask questions.
A. What fears keep you from bringing your questions to the Lord? Be honest in identifying these.
B. As you seek answers from God, you don't need to fear what you'll discover. Down through the ages, people who have truly sought God have found that He is who He says He is. (For example, consider Job's experience in Job 42:1-6, and Jeremiah's discoveries in Jeremiah 20:7-8 with 32:17-24.) Because you don't need to fear what you'll learn about God, what hope do you have?
4. Don't be afraid to honestly ask God your most challenging questions. Consider these examples of people who were courageous enough to ask.
A. John the Baptist was a "miracle" baby. Fulfilling the promise of God, his parents conceived him way past their childbearing years. John's purpose was to go before Jesus, preparing "the way of the Lord." John identified Jesus as the Messiah, loudly proclaiming, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Read John 1:32-34 and Matthew 3:16-17. What proof did John have that Jesus truly was the Son of God?
i. Despite all his assurances, when John the Baptist was imprisoned-facing death-he apparently doubted. Maybe he wondered, "If Jesus is the Christ, why isn't He rescuing me?" Read Luke 7:18-23. What did John do regarding his faith struggles? What was Jesus' response?
ii. Does it help you to know that even John the Baptist wrestled with doubts in a difficult time? How does it help? How does Jesus' response to John's doubts encourage you?
B. Read John 20:24-29. In these verses you'll find the story of Thomas, one of Jesus' disciples. His struggle with doubt was so significant that a person today who doubts might still be called a "Doubting Thomas."
i. As one of Jesus' twelve disciples, Thomas witnessed many miracles and heard Christ's teachings. But Thomas also witnessed Jesus' crucifixion. Even though the other disciples exclaimed they had seen Jesus, he didn't believe them. What condition did he put on his belief?
ii. What did Jesus say when He appeared to Thomas? What was Thomas's response?
iii. Does Thomas's experience encourage you? How? Be specific.
5. Perhaps you have some uncertainty about who God is, but you don't know specifically what your questions are. What do you learn from Jeremiah 17:10 and Luke 5:21-22?
A. How can the Lord help you with your questions? Consider Ephesians 5:13-14.
B. What are your responsibilities?
6. What questions do you have about the Lord or your faith? Record each here (or in a journal). Ask the Lord to lead you into truth regarding each question.
7. What does God promise in Isaiah 45:19 and Matthew 7:7-8?
A. Do you think you can count on these promises to be true for you? Why or why not?
B. As you continue to seek answers about your doubts, take time to thank God that He promises to meet you and lead you into truth.
1. What, if anything, has triggered doubts in you? What have you done with your doubts and questions?
2. What are some reasons people hold on to their doubts? What do you think the consequences are of not facing our doubts or of not seeking the truth about them?
3. Why is honesty an essential attribute as we seek God's truth? What do you think occurs when we're not honest with God?
4. Does anything from this lesson encourage you to ask your toughest questions? Below, or in a journal, list the one thought or Scripture passage from this lesson that helped you the most.
Excerpted from God, Where Are You? by KIRKIE MORRISSEY Copyright © 2002 by Kirkie Morrissey. Excerpted by permission.
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