Why did that happen? Why didn’t God help me? Why didn’t he save me from that tragedy? These are also the questions asked in times of national tragedies. Why did that man kill twenty-six people and injure many more in that Baptist Church in Texas? Why? Why? Why?
IS IT WRONG TO ASK WHY?
The answer is no, as long as you are able to accept God’s word on the situation and not spend your life attempting to answer the ‘why’ question, never moving on, but stuck in a moment of time.
It is part of our humanity to wrestle with questions like these. When we are in the midst of difficult and even tragic circumstances, we often find ourselves asking the question, ‘Why?’
Did you realize that many in the Bible wrestled with the ‘why’ question? You and I are not alone if and when we ask ‘Why?’
The Jeremiah Study Bible lists a number of people from the Bible that asked this question:
- Moses prayed, ‘Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me?’ (Exodus 5:22).
- Joshua cried, ‘Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all – to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us?’ (Joshua 7:7).
- Gideon cried, ‘Why then has all this happened to us?’ (Judges 6:13).
- Nehemiah asked, ‘Why is the house of God forsaken?’ (Nehemiah 13:11).
- Job cried, ‘Why did I not die at birth?’ (Job 3:11).
- A psalmist wrote, ‘Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?’ (Psalm 10:1).
- David prayed, ‘Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?’ (Psalm 22:1).
- Asaph asked, ‘O God, why have You cast us off forever?’ (Psalm 74:1).
- Isaiah asked, ‘O Lord, why have You made us stray from Your ways?’ (Isaiah 63:17).
- Jeremiah mourned, ‘Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us?’ (Jeremiah 14:19)
If you have ever asked the question ‘why?’ then you are in good company.
EVEN JESUS ASKED WHY?
In the moment of His greatest ordeal, as He hung dying on the cross, Jesus cried out in agony and pain, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus, in His humanity, uttered the same cry that we so often have voiced. Why? Why? There was no miraculous answer for Him in that moment on the tree.
There are many explanations given as to why Jesus felt that way, but the point I want to make is that Jesus experienced the same feelings people have felt when they have asked the question ‘Why?’ I am grateful that we have a Savior who understands and who has asked the same question people still ask today. See Hebrews 4:15, which states, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted (tested) in every way, just as we are-yet He did not sin.” Jesus would have sinned if it was wrong to ask ‘Why?’ However, because Jesus was without sin, it can not be wrong to ask ‘Why?’
A MOTHER ASKS WHY?
Recently, my wife Dorothy and I have been reading the book ‘Behind the Veils of Yemen,’ by Audra Grace Shelby. She, together with her husband Kevin, served nine years as missionaries in the Middle East. The book describes in detail the difficulties they faced along the way.
On one occasion, their daughter Madison fell ill with what turned out to be brain seizures. Being in Yemen, there was no medical help, as there was only one neurologist in the entire country. It was only when they were able to travel to Cyprus for a conference, that they were able to arrange to visit with a neurologist at the same time.
In the midst of it all, Audra cried out to God, “Why? How could you let this happen? Why?” She ranted, “I trusted you Lord. Haven’t I been through enough . . . she is my little girl. Father, please don’t take her away.”
Later on, Audra was sitting in the conference listening as the keynote speaker address the congregation. She writes, “The keynote speaker delivered a message on trusting God. I sighed, listening with halfhearted interest. Then the speaker told a story. He described a missionary who had spent her life ministering to the needs of an African tribe. She had given her life to loving and living among the people. But a war broke out, and she had been caught between warring tribes. She was taken captive, beaten, and raped repeatedly by the very people she had come to serve. From the midst of the horror, she cried out to God, asking why He would let this happen to her.
“The speaker shared the clear voice of God’s reply, ‘Do you trust Me enough without having to know why?
Audra goes on to say, “I sat forward in my seat. The room around me seemed to become distant and dim. Faces faded away, and all sound seemed to stop as the question shot toward me like an arrow. It hit clean, straight between the eyes, piercing my soul like a firebrand.
“‘Do you trust Me enough without having to know why?’
“My mouth felt dry, and I swallowed. The speaker moved on, but I could not. Time had stopped for me. I knew God had asked me the question. It was as if He had drawn a line in the sand, and I had to make a choice. I had to choose whether to cross that line and trust Him completely or stay where I was and struggle through what I did not understand with anger and resentment.
Audra continued her struggle, as she realized God was waiting for her answer. “He was waiting for me to answer His. ‘Do you trust Me enough without having to know why?’
“Tears began to fill my eyes. God had always been faithful to me, even when I had been unfaithful to Him. He had always been who He said He is; He had never been less. I lifted my face toward the ceiling, and the tears spilled out, pouring down my cheeks. Lord, I prayed, I trust you. You are worthy of my trust, and I will trust You no matter what. Even when I don’t understand why something happens.
“The storm within me ceased. The sun broke through like a clear morning after a night of tornadoes. I crossed over God’s line in the sand, stepping across with my heart locked on Jesus. I felt like Peter stepping out of a manmade boat to walk on the water with the Master.”
Later that week they saw the neurologist who diagnosed a form of childhood epilepsy, which she was expected to grow out of.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? WHAT ABOUT ME?
Are we willing to trust God no matter what, even when we don’t understand what is happening or why?
Anne Graham Lotz puts it this way, “If we don’t figure out how to process the whys of life, we’ll end up cynical, resulting in a catastrophic loss of faith. If we don’t answer correctly, we’ll grow bitter, resulting in a darkened personality. In Christ are hidden all the mysteries of wisdom and knowledge. We believe He has the capacity of working all things for the good to those who love Him. We know He works all things according to the ultimate purposes of His counsel. We consider all is right that seems most wrong if it be His sweet will.”
This is the challenge that all of us face when we encounter circumstances we don’t understand.
Do you trust Me enough without having to know why?
What is your answer? What is mine?