Thursday thoughts: Asking hard questions can help us sort feelings from facts


I am an inquisitive person, which basically just means I ask a lot of questions. If you happen to talk to my husband he would tell you that I wake up asking questions and I go to bed asking questions. Sometimes I even ask questions if I wake up in the middle of the night.

Often they are pretty random because if it crosses my mind,  I ask it. I think I “learned” to ask questions of others as a coping mechanism. Several things attributed to this. One was somewhat attributed to the way I was raised. My parents were extremely private. Our dinner times were usually very quiet. I got married at 19 and I married into a family that was the complete opposite. They talked about anything and everything, laughed a lot, and were loud most of the time

After I was married I lived in Georgia and my parents were in Texas. I learned early on that it was hard to talk to my mom once a week and keep good lines of communication. At times it seemed like you just ended up talking about surface things. In order to keep from getting my feelings hurt when talking to my mom, I would spend our conversation time asking about her and how she was doing and what was going on in her life. This would keep the conversation going. I was genuinely concerned but in my heart my desire was that she would ask about me and my life as well. I don’t think she intentionally meant to hurt my feelings and I’m pretty sure I never voiced what I needed. We just didn’t share a good communication process, therefore I learned the art of asking questions as a coping mechanism.

Another was when Missie went into residential care. I knew people loved us and were concerned about us but I think fear kept people from asking how we were handling things. I’m pretty sure it makes people uncomfortable if you fall apart and cry when they ask you a question (which I did/do quite often). However, it made me realize how much I wanted people to ask about us. I needed to know they cared, not just feel like they cared.

It made me realize I need to ask the questions of other, even if they are hard. I feel like these experiences plus a few others made me bold in asking the hard questions. People really do want you to genuinely ask them, especially if they are in a tough season. They want to know you care.

Now comes the hard part. We also have to ask ourselves the hard questions. To really be honest with myself and discern my motives I have to ask the hard questions of myself.  Hard questions make you realize where your heart is and what or who you are trusting in.

Here are a few of the questions that I need to ask. What am I worried about? What am I scared of? Am I holding on to something I need to let go? What am I grateful for? What mistakes did I make today? Is there someone I need to apologize to? What did God teach me today?

The list could be endless, but the questions are necessary in order really know what direction I am headed and who I am trusting in the process. It can help me discern what is “feeling” from what is “fact.” My feelings can and do change continually but the facts are the facts.

The other hard part is asking God the hard questions. Not necessarily “why” questions but questions that concern my heart, my motives, and His will. I know that I can avoid asking the hard questions of God for fear of what the answer will be. I am no different than others in being afraid to hear the answers to those questions.

I am reading a book about being brave. It takes real bravery to ask hard questions and listen for what could be hard answers, especially from God. I know that sometimes I don’t “want” to ask God the hard questions because in my heart I’m pretty sure I might not hear the answer I desire to hear. Maybe that is how I avoid dealing with “hard issues.”

I know the only way to true peace is to not only ask myself the hard questions, but to ask God the hard questions about my situation and myself. My devotion this morning was about this very issue and it overwhelmed me. It was a stark reminder that I do need to ask others the hard questions but it was also extremely convicting in reminding me I am also responsible to ask myself and God the hard questions.

If I ask the hard questions of myself I can experience growth. If I ask the hard questions of God I can experience not only growth but His peace, His direction for my life, and His provision. Isn’t that what we all really want and need? I know I do.

Is it easy? For me, the answer is no. Sometimes the feelings are rampant and hard to decipher. Honestly, the facts can be eye-opening and hard to handle as well, but they are necessary. I’m pretty sure this “Thursday Thought” might be exclusively a reminder for me. I’m thinking maybe you just were along for the ride on this one.

Maybe asking hard questions of yourself is easy for you. Maybe asking hard questions of God is as well, or maybe you are really good at always asking hard questions. I don’t “think” I will ever master this completely but I certainly can work towards that goal. Won’t you join me? I can only imagine how much more emotionally healthy, inwardly happy, and spiritually whole we could be if we practiced asking hard questions.

Just know that if I ask you a question it’s because I really do care. I’m pretty sure if anyone asks you a hard question it’s because they care. I know God cares about all of us. He wants us to have the truth about our motives and our hearts. In Psalms 16:2, the Bible says “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord." We need to trust God because He alone knows our hearts and our motives. He knows the facts and God’s facts never change.

Our desire should be to ask God the hard questions because His answers will cause change in our lives, change that makes us grow in our relationship with Him and with others. When I am worried, He offers me peace. When I am scared, He offers me security. When I am holding a grudge, He reminds me to forgive because He forgives me. When I am confused and unsure, He gives me His Word to read. When I am wondering what He did in my life today, I just need to open my eyes and look around.

If you see someone struggling, ask if you can pray or help in any way. If you are troubled or need direction in your life, ask someone to pray for and with you. God holds the answers and His Word is full of the facts. My prayer is to be sensitive to the prompts of God and the people He places in my path and to especially be brave in asking hard questions.

With this being Easter week I am burdened more than ever to ask myself the hard questions knowing all that God sacrificed for me. But I’m also burdened to ask others the most important question that will determine where they spend eternity. Do you know Jesus? If they don’t it’s the perfect time to tell them!


Jill Johnson, a staff member at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, finds spiritual applications in her everyday experiences as a wife, mother, grandmother and Georgian. She is available to speak to your church's women's gatherings. Reach her at