A Christian Teen’s Guide to Tough Questions About God
Find out what to do when you - or a friend - have a tricky question about God.
At one time or another, most of us have had tough questions about God. Whether it’s about predestination, suffering, evil, the reliability of the Bible or even whether God actually exists, it’s very normal to question or doubt your faith at points.
But what can you do when you have tough questions, or when friends ask tough questions? Let’s take a look at what the Bible says, and then some practical tips.
What the Bible says about questions
There are questioners in the Bible!
As Nicky Gangemi writes, “This year at my church, we’ve been reading the Psalms. We read one Psalm a day for our quiet time and then our minster preaches on one of the Psalms from that week at our Sunday church service. And I’ve been surprised how many times David and the other Psalm writers question God.
They ask Him questions like:
- “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (10:1)
- “Why have you forgotten me?” (42:9b)
- “Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?” (44:24b)
- “How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever?” (74:10)
They often challenge God about what is going on in their own lives, the struggles they are facing and they also look around them and question why wicked men seem to flourish and God’s people seem to be in trouble.
At first, all this questioning made me a bit uncomfortable. The Psalmists are so open in their questioning of God, do they know something about relating to God that I don’t? However, as I read, I began to notice a pattern. Even as they question and challenge God they remain convinced of God’s goodness and His sovereignty over all that is happening. They often show this by finishing off the Psalm with an affirmation of God’s character.
Here's an example from Psalm 10.
Firstly, the Psalmist asks: “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
But in verse 16, he concludes by saying: “The LORD is king forever and ever”.
You see, while the Psalmist asks the question, He realises that God is in complete control and trusts Him no matter what.”
God wants to help us understand
When we have questions, we shouldn’t worry that God wants us to just sit and fester in our uncertainty! In fact, James 1:5 tells us:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
God wants to help us understand many of the mysteries of faith, so ask for his help!
We aren’t going to understand everything
Though God does want to help us understand, there are some mysteries and questions that will never be answered until we are with God forever. As 1 Corinthians 13:12 explains,
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Until Jesus returns or we die, some of God’s plans and purposes behind his choices will not be clear to us. We may catch glimpses of them, but we will see properly one day. That may be frustrating to hear but it can actually be very freeing – it allows us to rest on the truths we do know and enjoy our confidence in the heart of the gospel.
Let’s get practical
So, what can we do when the questions start? Let’s take a look…
If you’re the one with the question
Firstly, remember that having questions is normal. In fact, sometimes it can be good – it shows you’re engaging deeply with your faith rather than just taking it at a surface level!
As we mentioned above, God wants us to ask him for help when we have a question. Ask him to help you understand, and ask him to guard your faith as you wrestle with uncertainy.
Other Christians are a great source of comfort and wisdom in times of questioning.
The ministers at your church, your youth leaders and even your friends have probably all wrestled with the same questions as you, and they may have answers and advice.
There are also so many resources online and wise teachers that you could go to for answers to your questions. Here at Fervr we recommend these two in particular:
Dr John Dickson – an Australian academic and minister who is passionate about helping non-Christians come to faith and helping Christians address their questions. He’s written many books addressing big questions like suffering, such as ‘If I Were God, I’d End All the Pain’.
Dr William Lane Craig – an American apologist who helps people understand why faith in Jesus is a reasonable choice. His website ReasonableFaith.org is full of extremely helpful videos and articles.
If your friend has a question
Often our friends – Christian or not – will want to ask us big, tough questions about faith. So what can you do when they start asking?
Of course, the best way to be ready to answer questions is to be prepared with answers! The people mentioned above are talented apologists who have a lot to teach us about being prepared
Apologetics, despite how it sounds, isn’t at all about apologising for our faith. Apologetics comes from the Greek word ‘apologia’, which means “a formal defence of one’s opinions or conduct”.
We tend to use the word apologetics to refer to being prepared to answer the questions of people who ask us about major Christian doctrines and hard ideas, including predestination, suffering, the resurrection, science, evolution, sexuality and more.
Learning how to be an apologist is a great way to prepare to answer the tough questions of your friends.
Figure out why they’re asking
It’s important to always understand why your friend is asking a certain question before you jump into a pre-prepared apologetic presentation. A friend who’s mourning the death of a relative needs love and prayer more than they need a rational defence of the afterlife.
Answer if you can
If you’re confident, answer the question humbly, asking your friend to clarify if they don’t understand. Don’t forget that 1 Peter 3:16 says that we should answer with ‘with gentleness and respect’.
If you don’t know the answer
It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’ to tough questions. When the disciples asked Jesus about the precise time of his second coming, what did he say? ‘I don’t know!’ (Mark 13:32)
When it comes to the questions people ask you, don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ but don’t just stop at ‘I don’t know’. Tell them you’ll get back to them, and then go and find out the answer.
Whether you had an answer or not, make sure you get back to your friend in a few days, to answer their original question or to ask if they have follow-up thoughts. Now might also be a great time to invite them to youth group or church!
Questions to think about
- Have you ever had tough questions about God? What did you do?
- How does it make you feel that people question God in the Bible?
- Are you ready to answer tough questions from your friends? If not, how could you get ready?
- Spend some time praying that God would give you the answers to your tough questions when they arise.