In a remote village in Papua New Guinea, God taught me to ask him the right question.
Our friend Kwefi — a young, local Christian mother — had just died in childbirth, and I was angry at God. Kwefi had modeled what it meant to really follow Jesus as a woman and wife in her culture. She had been making an impact on others too. She had so much promise.
"Why, God? Why did you let her die?” I yelled. I was desperate and insistent for answers.
I anticipated God’s answer. Maybe he would admit in a soft whisper that her death was an unfortunate mistake but that “these things happen.” Perhaps then he would apologize for allowing it to happen, since it had hurt me.
Or, if he wanted, maybe God would audibly speak to me like he did for people in Scripture, and explain his cosmic plan.
But instead there was only silence.
The day after Kwefi died, I read 2 Kings 2, where Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha is left behind, facing the sudden loss of his friend and mentor. I easily imagined how Elisha might have cried out in grief like me, wondering why God had taken Elijah away. But unlike me he asked: “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” (2:14a, NLT; emphasis mine).
God gently showed me that asking “why?” wasn’t what I should have focused on; I should have asked, “where?” This is the question God delights in answering. Modeling Elisha’s example, I changed my question. In my confusion, pain and loss, I simply asked: “God, where are you?”
God’s response came to me with the clarity and assurance only his Word can bring. I recalled Proverbs 18:24: “… There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (NIV). Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:20 provided me comfort: “And be sure of this: I am with you always” (NLT).
I began to remember verses like Isaiah 49:15-16, too: “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (NLT).
God spoke to me in those promises, assuring me of his constant presence and closeness. But when I failed to ask God the right questions, I was met with dissatisfying answers that lead to misguided conclusions about who he was.
As you look at your present and toward your future, what questions are you asking God?
While we want to serve and obey Jesus, how often do we find ourselves asking questions that focus on us, rather than God? We ask him: “What will people think of me?” or “What if I fail?” or “Can God really use me?”
As believers, we understand God’s heart for the nations and his mandate to make his name known. We can ask questions like: “Lord, will you use my skills to make your name known and great among the nations?” If we dare to ask these kinds of questions, we will find that God answers.
The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Dare to ask, “What am I doing right now that requires faith and trust in God to accomplish his purposes?”
Keep asking and seeking God in your questions and his answers.