But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?
Who are you? Who are you to ask God why he’s done what he’s done? What right do you have, as a mere human, to question God and his will or ways?
I tried (and still try) to do this a lot, especially recently, after it feels like one storm after another in my life. I ask, “Why have you done this, God? Why couldn’t you have just done things this way? Why couldn’t you have stopped this from happening? Why couldn’t you just listen to what I want?”
That’s not how it works, though. And what a sinful, selfish, despicable thing for me to think.
I was very convicted last Sunday during our Bible study while we were looking at this passage in Romans 9. I realized how often I do this. It’s difficult not to because God is so non-understandable. He is way beyond all of our reason. What he does doesn’t make sense, so we question him. It’s in our nature to question; after all, God did make us reasonable creatures with minds to think and question. Why did he do that?
Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
When circumstances happen in ways I did not anticipate or desire, I question God because I want an answer. I want to know why I’m suffering. I want to know why I didn’t get what I want and what God is planning for me. I want to know because that will make the suffering easier. If I can look at the end goal, maybe I’ll be able to make it through the pain. But that’s not what God intends.
Has the potter no right over the clay to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
What if the pain we must endure will help us understand and appreciate God’s glory all the more?
We do not see the whole picture. We don’t know God’s entire plan. We can’t see any of the tricks he has up his sleeve. We can’t know because we are men. And who are we to answer back to God? Who are we to demand reasoning for what God’s done and is doing? God will reveal his plan to us in his own time. Jeremiah writes in his letter to the Babylonians during their exile:
For thus says the LORD: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Only God knows. Only God, the Creator and controller of the universe, knows what will happen today and tomorrow.
We’re bound to experience pain in this lifetime: that’s sin and because of sin, that’s the world in which we live. It’s hard not to question God when earthquakes destroy our homes and illness takes our loved ones.
We cannot forget—especially in the moments of unequivocal pain—that God, in all his glory and might, is merciful. All the more reason not to question God!
If we question him for everything he’s done, we will come up as the enemy. We are full of sin, covered by sin, consumed by sin. Yet God is merciful to us. All we have to do to see this is to look at Jesus.
I have to remind myself, when disaster strikes, to look at Jesus. When we look at him, we find the answers. We can’t understand why we have pain. I don’t understand why both of my children died in utero. I still try to question God and get answers. Instead, I need to look at Jesus and his work on the cross. There’s the answer. Jesus paid it all.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
The next time you start to question God, consider asking him why he cares about you so much that he would put his only son on the cross to endure the punishment we all deserve? Ask him why he decided we’re worth all that pain and suffering. Ask him what makes us so special that Jesus would die in order that we might be saved. Ask him that, and maybe you’ll decide your questions have already been answered.
There is pain and sorrow in this world. This pain and sorrow causes us to ask God, “Why?” Sin and hurt cause us to question his will and his ways. We have to remember in those moments of questioning that we are the creatures, God is the Creator. He made us. The clay does not question the potter, and so we should not question God.