The older I get, the more I have begun to realize that some questions just don’t have answers. Or at least the answers are hard to find and usually difficult to understand. Youth tend to be full of questions. That is one of the things that I love most about them. They want to be shown not told. They want to be encouraged and led not lectured and berated.
Having recently come back from a retreat with many of the youth from my local fellowship, I am struck with just how many questions they had. Everything from doctrine to why me questions, came up during the 2.5 day adventure. Many of the youth actively struggle with doubt. They want to hear from God. But they find themselves asking, “Is that really you, God?”
Dealing with tough questions is a central part of the Christian faith. Many Christian youth are taught not to question but to simply accept what parents and leaders say. While this may be necessary in some cases, for the most part, we need to help children and youth learn how to discover and process information on their own.
Youth that don’t have deep personal roots of their own tend to stray from the faith as they get older and move out of the house. Some day parents and youth ministers will not be there. Youth need to learn and be released to cultivate a personal relationship with God.
It is impossible to make someone a disciple of Jesus if we stand in the way as an intermediary. This includes parents. Sure, leaders have a responsibility to guide. But some carry it way to far.
Questions play a critical role in God shaping and molding us. I used to shy away from tough questions because they made me uncomfortable and forced me to face the fact that I frequently did not know for sure why I believed what I believed. But now I love them. Hard questions lead me to dive deeper into the Word and cause me to seek God even more for inspiration and guidance.
These are just some of the questions that I have encountered as I have grown from adolescence into young adulthood. Some of these have come up during youth ministry. I have seen youth struggle with them and in some cases be chocked by them. Some are from my own personal experience.
1.) Why did God move in some profound, supernatural way in my friend’s life but has never done the same thing in my life?
2.) How do I know if a move of the Holy Spirit such as tongues, prophecy or healing is real?
3.) How do I know what to pray for?
4.) Why did someone close to be have to die?
5.) Why do the bad guys get away with so much but I always seem to get caught?
6.) If God really preserves His Word, why are there so many different Bible versions? How can you tell if a version is accurate or not?
7.) How do I know that there is a Trinity when the word never appears in the Bible? Is there any solid biblical proof for God being three in one?
8.) How do I know that I am really hearing from God and not just my own thoughts or desires?
9.) Why did God let this really bad thing happen to me?
10.) Why do some have so much and some have so little in this world? Life seems so unfair.
11.) What if I don’t want to stand out from the crowd? Do I have to become a weirdo to follow Jesus?
12.) What is the difference between true faith and prideful presumption?
13.) How can God really expect me to have a “relationship” with Him when He is a spirit?
14.) How can I experience the Father’s love when my earthly father left my family for another woman?
15.) Does anyone really love me? Who? How can I be sure?
16.) What is God’s plan for my life?
17.) Why couldn’t I be taller?
18.) God said that we should be holy because He is holy. Doesn’t this seem like God is asking too much from us? Does He really believe that we can be like Him?
19.) How do I know that I am saved? More importantly, what does it really mean to be saved?
20.) Why did God make people knowing that they would go to hell?
21.) Why didn’t God stop Hitler, Stalin or other really bad people from doing the heinous acts that they did?
22.) What does it really look like to love the sinner and not the sin?
23.) Why do preachers always seem to be asking for money when Jesus never did?
24.) What does God look like?
25.) How can God be the same yesterday, today and forever when He seems to be much stricter in the Old Testament?
26.) Why do things immediately become lame when the “Christian” label is attached to them?
27.) Why don’t we see miracles today like what took place in the Bible?
28.) How is God going to judge us for every deed we do when the Bible says that there is forgiveness for confessed and repented sin?
29.) What does it really mean for my sin to be cast from me as far as the east is from the west?
30.) What will heaven be like? Will I recognize loved ones there?
The most common question that people tend to ask is why. Interestingly, in one of the most profound stories of sorrow and testing in the Bible, God never tells Job why calamity suddenly comes upon him. Time and time again, Job asks God for answers. And while God does answer many of Job’s questions, He never tells Job why. More than the answer itself, the process of arriving at the answer is what makes the difference in many situations. Character development comes not with the answer but the striving for it. Remember, you can’t arrive at the answer unless you start with a question.