When I get to heaven, I have a few questions that I want to ask God. Over the years, the questions have changed.
When I was a child, I asked a religion teacher, why God created snakes. It made no sense to me. When I first read the book of Genesis, it made perfect sense to me that the devil was a snake. I hate snakes more than I hate tiny spiders.
I can’t recall my religion teacher’s name or her appearance. But I do remember she answered me with kindness. She lovingly told me that snakes are not all bad and that we may never understand why God creates or allows things, people and situations in our lives which seem to destroy all that is good. Then, she gave me the answer my mother and father gave me when they seemed to be at a loss for my endless questions about life and God- “Some things are a mystery. Trust God.”
My pre-adolescent brain was satisfied with that answer. But as the depth of my life experiences grew, so did the questions.
“Why are there wars and poverty? Why are people so broken? Why do we hurt the ones we love” and the proverbial — “Why do good people suffer?”
In the midst of these profound questions, and frustrated with teenage acne, I asked God, “Why can’t you just make this better?” In that seemingly vain moment, I had an interior sense of God’s love as these words came to me, “I want you to see that your beauty is deeper than your appearance and to know you are loved.” Good answer.
When the acne finally abated well into young adulthood and my girlish figure gave way to motherhood, I was glad for the lesson learned that my beauty and worth is not defined by age or appearance.
Knowing we are loved unconditionally gives us the courage to trust God for the unanswered questions, knowing that one day we will understand. Reading and studying the Bible is helpful, too.
The Psalms are filled with questions and expressions of every emotion known to human beings. I try to read the Psalms first thing upon waking and the last thing before bed. There are always verses that I can relate to because they touch on experiences I have throughout my day.
Every great person in the Bible who was called by God for a purpose had a few questions when God called them. Most of the questions came from a place of humility and belief — ultimately trusting that God can draw good even out of the bad things that the evil one intends for our destruction.
God allows, and even desires, our questions because He knows we sometimes need clarification to understand His will.
One example is the disciple often referred to as “Doubting Thomas.” Thomas missed Jesus’ resurrected appearance to His disciples.
When the disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!’ Thomas replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Jesus was fine with Thomas’ questions and He even showed up a week later to allow Thomas to see and to touch His wounds.
Then Jesus gave every disciple — and each one of us — this one promise:
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)
God knows we are human and we look for answers. But God also knows we were made in the image of God and there is more to this life than meets the eye.
Trusting God with unanswered prayers from my youth helped prepare me for the difficulties I would encounter as an adult and as a mother to a child with a rare disease.
I have personally experienced the blessing Jesus promised that comes from being one who “has not yet seen but believed.” The belief has made me stronger, more resilient and more persistent in my prayers. My faith has grown not only from the miracles I have witnessed but also through the endurance that grows when we chose to believe even when we don’t see.
Between Christmas and Thanksgiving, my daughter had two surgeries to repair the shunt in her brain. By the second surgery, I was tired and depressed that another holiday was being spent in and out of the hospital.
We’ve gotten used to having life interrupted — especially at the holidays. But try as I might, accompanying my daughter into the operating room to pray with her and kiss her goodbye as she drifts off to sleep is not an experience a parent ever could or should get used to no matter how many times they do it. It’s never been easy.
I usually wait in the waiting room because we have been in surgeries where emergencies happen and it goes from being a simple procedure to a life-threatening event. But on this late cold December evening, I needed to walk outside the hospital to feel the chill and walk to my favorite little chapel a block away.
The streets of Manhattan were buzzing with rush hour — people walking and driving quickly, anxious to get home or to shop for the holidays. But I was somewhere else in a hope beyond the struggle.
When I got to the chapel the doors were locked. Thankfully, the chapel windows run floor to ceiling and I could still see inside. I leaned up against the glass, pressing my whole body to take in the sight of all that is God.
Inside the dimly lit chapel, I could still see the glorious mural of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the flickering lights of votive candles, signaling the prayers of those who came to visit before me. In my view from the window, I also could see the gilded tabernacle where the presence of Jesus is known by the sanctuary lamp standing guard.
With my face pressed against the glass, I knelt down to pray my rosary and to offer all the unanswered questions before the throne of God. In that moment, the hustle and bustle of the busy Manhattan streets melted into silence as God answered all my questions and my doubts with the grace to believe.
It’s not a sin to question God — search the scriptures if you doubt. I believe God wants us to question His plan and His ways. He settles our doubts by giving us the belief that His ways are not always our ways. The good and the bad in this life can lead us to a deeper faith and trust in God — a blessing for all who will believe.