We are always asking questions about our future, whether we are consciously aware of them or not. Questions, by their very nature, indicate what we feel we need more information about. In Numbers chapter thirteen, God struck my heart with the questions Moses asked- and how much they were like my own at times. Moses was sending men to explore the land of Caanan- the land that the Lord specifically had said He was giving them- yet his questions were as follows:
“18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)” Numbers 13:18-20 NIV
Effectively, these questions are lot like asking, “how hard is this going to be? How much work will I need to put in? How much time will it take? Will it really even be good? Can you show me a little bit of proof before I step out in faith?”. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with asking these questions, they will only feed our human tendency to size up mountains in terms of what we think is possible or likely. God whispered to my heart that many times, the questions we are asking that we think are increasing our preparedness level are actually revealing our hopefulness level.
God had given Moses a sure foundation of hope when He gave him the word that He would give him the land. Moses was struggling with hope deferred. “Deferred” is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “postpone, put off, delay”. It’s the same subtle trap we fall into. We’re not outwardly saying “No way, God! That can’t happen!”. But our questions are saying, “I’m going to delay getting my hopes up until this looks possible or has happened.” The problem is, God tells us that deferring hope makes our hearts sick (Proverbs 13:12). He also says that hope that is sourced in His Word and through His Holy Spirit is to be our strength, joy, and help us persevere and actually see our promised land! (Isaiah 40:31, Romans 15:13, Romans 5:3-4, Psalm 119:114, Hebrews 10:23).
Ok, so how do we find hope in our questions? If we put our hope in God’s Word, our questions are going to come from a place of hope (ex: What first move should we make into the promised land? How can we multiply the fruit You’re giving us, Lord?). They will use the Words of God as a foundation and reach beyond to the “next steps” of faith. When our questions are trying to get us to a place of hope (ex: how can that even happen? Will I make it through this? What if I can’t do this?), we begin fighting unnecessary mental battles… trying to defend or protect by our own reasoning what the Lord has already given us. When you’re noticing that the questions you’re asking are questions of doubt, it’s a reminder that we need to feast again on both the words of prophecy that the Lord has spoken over us as well as the testimonies that He has made known to us.
God showed me this too: Our questions are built on which testimonies we lean on. We can never say for sure, but it’s possible that Moses’s questions in chapter thirteen may have been “leaning” more on his experiences in Egypt than “leaning” on when God parted the seas or worked miracles in the desert. Recently, a friend of mine described a pain she was having. Turns out, she had injured one knee years ago, and over the course of that injury had learned to “lean” on the other leg. Her “leaning” continued even after the knee healed and now actually caused pain.
Similarly, spiritually, we can learn to lean during various seasons and trials. When the season changes, though, and we don’t lean more on the testimony of the Lord than we do on the hurt of disappointment, our questions “lean” more towards doubt than hope. As I read Numbers chapter thirteen this week, I read it as an invitation to begin to let the Lord breathe hope into us. We will certainly always have questions on this side of Heaven, but our questions can begin to build our hope. Take some time to encounter the Lord this week, ask Him these questions, and wait for His still, small voice to answer:
1. What questions am I asking right now about my future? (even ones I'm unaware of)
2. What have You already said that has spoken to those questions that I may have forgotten?
3. What questions could I ask instead that would help me share Your perspective of hope?