7 Ways to Answer Tough Questions with the Bible
Tough questions are a normal part of life. Life is not neat or easy. Real life is downright messy. I have had struggles that have tested my faith. I have had days where I was just trying to survive one hour at a time. I’ve also had good times when life was not presenting me with devastating news.
I have wondered what to believe about loss, heart ache, wealth, justice, reconciliation, work or hardship. How should I view the evil in the world around me. I have wondered if my feelings of guilt or shame were appropriate. I have wondered about my obligations to those around me.
What should we do when we have an issue or a question about the Bible or about life? What if life and the things that happen to us seem at odds with the belief that God loves us?
Some people turn away from God when life gets hard. They reason that a loving God could never let something awful happen to them. They wonder what benefit there is to following God if your life isn’t easier or better.
God wants us to come to him with our struggles and problems. He hears us and will answer our prayers. When you find yourself seeking answers, turn to God and turn to the Bible. If a certain topic is nagging at you, resolve to tackle a study of the topic. The following are some suggestions for steps to take when you have a question. I have found these helpful in my own life.
1. Pray – Don’t skip this step. My inclination is always to find someone I can ask. I do have someone I can ask, someone who is always available and always by my side. God is always listening and caring for us. He wants us to come to him with our concern and with our questions. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
If you are having trouble with the words, here is a sample prayer to get you started.
2. Use Your Concordance – At the back of most study Bibles is a section that acts like an index. Check out this short article if you aren’t familiar with using a concordance.
Make a list of verses listed in a notebook. The benefit of using a concordance is it helps you find the ways a certain word is used in Scripture. When looking at my concordance for this article, I looked up the word “search” looking for verses about us searching for answers or searching for God. Instead all but one of the entries were examples of God searching for us. Now that’s a powerful concept that can change the way I understand God.
3. Google it! – Seek out books, articles or blogs on the topic. Sites like BibleGateway.com are also great resources for Bible Study. Then scan as you read for Scripture passages and make a list of the Bible verses mentioned. Next I recommend closing your computer or device and walking away from it. The distractions are unending and can be brutal to ignore. Take your list of passages and your Bible and go to another place to read them all.
4. Check the Cross References – When you find a verse or passage that really speaks to your question, park there. Read the notes in your Bible, look up any verses listed as cross references. Take other key words and look up them in your concordance. Write down insights or just copy down verses.
5. Sit in silence – This must be the hardest task for us. Just be quiet. Look out the window and let yourself process some of what you have read. If you suddenly can see something from a different viewpoint, that may be from God. Make sure it lines up with Scripture. If you are not sure, ask a mature Christian.
6. Ask your pastor – If you have been seeking an answer and haven’t found an answer, go to your pastor. If you aren’t part of a church, look around for one in your area. Pastors are there to help their parishioners, but also to help people in their community who are seeking answers.
7. Ask me – I am not a trained pastor, but I would love to research and tackle your questions. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What kinds of questions have you wrestled with lately?