One of the first questions my children asked was, “Why?” It came at unwanted bedtimes, unexpected mealtimes, undesired moments of discipline, and unforgettable experiences of sacrifice and forgiveness.
A wonderful innocence surrounds the question of “Why?” I don’t think we ever outgrow that basic question . . . at least, we don’t until we settle one of life’s greatest realities: We are human, gravely broken in our ability to understand and comprehend God’s sovereign covering in our lives.
My father wrote an article titled “Asking Why,” written about suffering.
Read his words below . . .
Of all questions, this is the most searching, the most tormenting. It accompanies every tragedy [every untimely disease; every abrupt, unexplainable handicap; every premature death]. It falls from the lips of the mother who delivers a stillborn [. . . the parent who hears that dreaded diagnosis, “It’s leukemia”] . . . the wife who learns of her husband’s tragic death . . . the child who is told, “Daddy won’t be coming home anymore” . . . the struggling father of five who loses his job . . . the close friend of one who commits suicide. . . .
Consider Job . . . imagine his feelings!
“You’ve lost your livestock, they’ve been stolen. Your sheep and camels were also destroyed. Your employees were murdered, Job. Oh, one more thing—your children were crushed in a freak windstorm . . . they are dead, my friend, all ten of them.”[ref]Taken from Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch: Becoming God’s Masterpiece (Dallas: Word, 1994), 170-71.[/ref]
Most of us have heard about Scripture’s suffering pilgrim, Job. Most of us easily skip to the happy ending—Job’s blessings—often forgetting what happened in the book of Job before matters were settled. The core issue Job faced is no different than what you and I must face in our lives when pain and suffering enter our otherwise well-planned paths. Job prompts us to ask a crucial question: Am I willing to release what I wished for in order to embrace what God has allowed? If the answer were easy, Job’s story wouldn’t be a big deal. But it is a huge deal because suffering is pervasive and painful, and it goes against what we want or expect.
I don’t tire of listening to others as they fight to make sense of their suffering. God continues to show His mercy upon me as I also fall sometimes into the “why” question. God makes much room for those wrestling in these deep and dark matters. In addition, I’ve learned the ultimate question is never “Why?” but “For what purpose?”
We need to embrace that pivotal perspective . . . Lord, for what purpose have you placed these trials in my life? Remember, He won’t be unloving or unkind, and seeking His purpose provides great insight and the opportunity for spiritual growth.
Today, you may be enduring circumstances that feel anything but loving—they may be tormenting, horrifying, grueling, and exhausting. Fallen human nature causes us to slip into the “whys” of wondering, but it’s far more healing to seek God’s purposes. He doesn’t waste a moment of our lives, and His ways are beyond our understanding. I encourage you to replace the “why” question with the “for what purpose” question.
Like my kids, when they practiced doing what was right, the issue of “Why?” settled; and the combat was replaced by grand contentment.
For today, what area of your life are you willing to release?
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