My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? (Psalm 22:1)
This psalm of David is quoted by Jesus while hanging on the cross. So the answer is a definite “Yes!” Not only can we question God, I would suggest that we are commanded to do so. There are two understandings of testing God in scripture. One is seen when the Israelites grumbled in the desert saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” This questioning met quick retribution, and is not the form of testing that I am referring to. On the other side, we see Job blame God, “Why have you made me your target?” He speaks freely of what God has brought against him, and calls Him to answer in a court of law. In the end, the three friends that attempted to defend God, received this conviction, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.“
What we have in the story of Job, is a picture of true faith growing. In all of Job’s statements, he never questioned God’s presence, or doubted that He was in control. Rather, he cries out to the One that he knows. He calls God to uphold righteous standards. He blames God for his suffering. He asks “Why?”
How did God respond? By questioning Job with unanswerable questions. He called upon the testimony of creation, from the starry hosts to the most unique of creatures to the fiercest untamable creatures. He calls Job to explain these creatures, to provide for and tame these creatures, to create the vast expanses, to answer God.
In the end, Job repents and proclaims, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” His God got a lot bigger. He had head knowledge before, but now he is inspired. He had called God to account for what he knew about God, and now he knew far more of God.
Faith is similar to a scientific model. We build scientific models because they have predictive and explanatory power. By testing those models, we refine them, and they converge to a better understanding. If we never rely on that model, then our understanding will never improve. Likewise, I can say there is a God, but until I live my life based on that understanding, I will never understand Him better. I may believe that God is a magic genie that responds to my use of certain incantations; however, if I never live by that understanding, my beliefs will never be changed. If I believe there is no God, but live as if there is one then my belief will never be tested. This is the difference between faith and belief. Faith is put to work. Belief stays in the head. I have heard it said, “The greatest distance known to man, is the 12 inches from the mind to the heart.”