May 3, 2023
The Surprising Benefit of Getting Ruthlessly Honest With God
JENNIFER DUKES LEE
Lee en español
“Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking. Don’t let me follow evil ways, but lead me in the way that time has proven true.” Psalm 139:23-24 (CEV)
I have always loved a great question.
My parents tell me that one of my favorite words as a little girl was “why.” Even today, at dinner parties, my friends are used to me asking questions that are sometimes serious or sometimes silly, like: If the same song was played every time you walked into a room, for the rest of your life, what song would it be? What would your dream “last meal” be?
My love of questions even led me to a career in news. I’m no longer a reporter, but I’m still asking questions. I suppose it’s because questions saved my life.
You see, for years, I quietly struggled with a long list of questions. It was as if the answers were hidden in locked rooms with missing keys. They were questions about my past, my purpose, pain in the world, and even the existence of God. I thought God would be offended by my doubting heart.
Even when it came to asking Him for help with some of the hardest things in my life, I avoided it because I was afraid of what His answer — or lack thereof — would be.
But then I met two people in the Bible who changed the way I felt about God’s willingness to let me be brutally honest.
First, I met Thomas in the Gospels. While growing up, I learned of “Doubting Thomas,” who refused to believe in Jesus' resurrection until he touched Jesus' scarred hands. (John 20:24-25) The nickname drips with accusation of faulty thinking. So I stuffed down my unbelief and fears, thinking all doubt was shameful and disrespectful.
But then I opened up my Bible and found this sentence in the study notes about Thomas: “Silent doubts rarely find answers.” In that moment, it was clear to me that Jesus doesn’t reject people for expressing their doubts honestly.
Second, I met David in the psalms. When you read David’s words, it’s like you’re reading a private journal. The psalms have blessed the lives of countless millions, giving us language for our deepest anguish, but when David wrote them, he was simply crying out to God with an honest heart:
These questions are not polite. They are raw and gritty. They reveal the truth that no topics are unsuitable for discussion with God.
In Psalm 139, David acknowledged that God knows everything already. And it’s from this place that David sought guidance: “Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking. Don't let me follow evil ways, but lead me in the way that time has proven true” (Psalm 139:23-24).
We learn from both David and Thomas that it’s better to express feelings with brutal honesty than to doubt God in deafening silence. And the same is true for us. Life will never make sense until we get curious enough to ask honest questions.
What questions do you have for God today? What breaks your heart? What makes you so angry you could scream?
Tell your stuff to God. He can take it.
Be encouraged in this, friend. You can learn a great deal about God — and about yourself — by paying attention to whatever comes after the beautiful curve of a question mark.
Lord, thank You for reminding us that our questions don’t have to ruin our faith. They can actually rebuild it. Our doubts don't have to be a curse. They can be a gift when they send us on a quest that ends at the foot of Jesus' cross. I don’t always understand You, God, but I know You’ve promised never to leave me alone in my doubts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Today’s devotion is adapted from Jennifer’s brand-new journal, Stuff I’d Only Tell God: A Guided Journal of Courageous Honesty, Obsessive Truth-Telling, and Beautifully Ruthless Self-Discovery. Click here to get your copy!
FOR DEEPER STUDY
John 14:5-6, “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (NIV)
Notice how Jesus beautifully reveals Himself in response to a question. What does this suggest to you about how honest you can be with the Lord?
What’s one thing you want to ask Jesus today? Your honesty is welcome here. Share in the comments.
© 2023 by Jennifer Dukes Lee. All rights reserved.