“Why do things happen and how do we respond to them?” This was the subject of the last Langstaff Letter entitled “Why?” and we received some excellent responses, including one from a lady who simply wrote six words, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.”
Let us look further at the question of “Why?”
ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION “WHY?”
People seek to give many answers to this question.
There are those who see suffering and trials as part of God’s sovereign actions in peoples lives and history. Nate Saint, son of Jim Elliot who was martyred in Ecuador in 1956, declared this regarding his father’s death, “It was an anomaly that I cannot explain outside of divine intervention.”
Others see the situations arising from the sins of people or nations. Many sicknesses, for example, can be the result of this, along with wrong and poor decisions along the way.
Still, others would claim that many personal difficulties and circumstances exist due to people’s lack of faith or insufficient faith.
Then too, there are those who would say that many times people have allowed things to happen because they have not applied the authority given to us by the Lord and from His word.
Some would see that many of these situations as part of spiritual warfare. Knowing that Jesus said that Satan came to steal, kill and destroy, these are seen as the casualties of spiritual warfare. We live in a fallen world and bad things happen to people and even nations.
To summarize, we have God’s intervention, man’s sin, lack of faith, not applying our authority in Christ, spiritual warfare, we could go on, as possible answers to the question of “Why?” Undoubtedly, there is truth in all of these points of view, but it still leaves us with a mystery that begs explanation and in my opinion doesn’t fully answer the question “Why?” Also, remember Jesus asked the “Why?” question on the cross, and there is no record of Him receiving an answer at that time.
Let us look at a couple of real-life examples of people dealing with the question of “Why?”
A MINISTER’S RESPONSE
One of the responses to the last Langstaff Letter was particularly powerful and poignant.
“A very strong and timely message. I realized many years ago that God is not obligated to answer my “Why” questions. But He does expect me to trust Him anyway.
Several years ago when my wife was at her worst, I was on a prayer walk one day and asked God why He had not healed her, that it would be so easy for Him, that He could heal her in an instant. “Why don’t you?”
His reply was, “If for some reason she is not healed and you have to endure this for rest of your lives, will you still preach that I heal?” If it were someone else’s wife who was suffering, I could have answered quickly. But it was MY wife. And I couldn’t answer Him right away.
Finally, with tears falling down my face, I answered, “Lord, I hope there will never be a reason why we would have to endure this the rest of our lives. But even if we do, YES Lord,
I will still preach that you heal; I will love you anyway, I will serve you anyway. How can I not after all you have done for us.”
About six months into my wife’s suffering, she received three phone calls in the same week from three intercessors who don’t know each other. All three of them shared the same word with her. “I have been praying for you, and the Lord has assured me that he will deliver you from this and when he does, it will be suddenly.” Well, that word ‘suddenly’ sounded really good to us. Twenty-two years later we are still waiting for the suddenly.”
He went on to say this in a follow-up email, “It is also interesting that she has prayed for people to be healed and they were healed. But she isn’t healed yet. She has received prayer with several people who are known for having a powerful healing ministry. People around her would get healed, but she didn’t. Why? I have an answer for that now. My answer is “I don’t know why.”
In March 2011, I went back to Australia to speak at a National Leadership Conference in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. My grandson Mitchel traveled with me, and it was his first trip outside of the United States. After the conference, we went down to see my older brother in Kiama, a town about seventy miles south of Sydney. On the morning after we arrived there, I had an appointment to visit with someone who had requested to talk with me. During this time, my nephew Neil took Mitchel to swim in the Pacific Ocean. When I arrived back at my brother’s house, he called out to me from the living room, “I have bad news for you. Your son-in-law David has died.” I immediately called my wife Dorothy in America, and she confirmed it all. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. How could this happen? David was only forty-two years old. He had the rest of his life ahead of him. What’s more, he was to take my place as pastor of Church on the Hill in Chaska. “Why? God Why? I was devastated. As one friend put it, “David was the son I never had, and now he was gone.”
I will always remember walking up and down in my brother’s house, the house I had designed for him when I had been an architect over forty years earlier. As I paced back and forth, I cried out to God “Why? God Why?” I did not receive an answer, but in this the most devastating time in my life (and even more so for my daughter Joy and her children, indeed the whole family), I prayed to God and in the midst of the pain, I simply said, “Lord, I don’t understand why this has happened, but I will trust you anyway.” I didn’t understand then, and I still do not fully understand now. However, I continue to say, “I will trust you anyway.”
ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD
Based on God’s word, we can confidently say that “all things work together for good to those who love God who are called according to His purposes.” Peter Marshall was a nationally known preacher of an influential church in Washington D.C. and chaplain of the U.S. Senate when he died at the young age of forty-six. It was a tragic death that left people wondering why, but out of his death came new life, as his wife Catherine Marshall wrote his life story “A Man Called Peter,” that was later made into a Hollywood movie, and followed up by her successful writing career.
In fact, after his death, his life and ministry reached far more people than he even reached while alive. I, myself, am one of those people, for God used “A Man Called Peter” as a major part of my call into the ministry.
A LAST WORD
What is the answer to the question “Why?” For me, it is simply, “I do not know why but I believe God is good all the time and that all things work together for good. So, even if I don’t fully understand why I will trust Him anyway.
What about you?
Trust Him no matter what! He is worthy of your trust, for He is God and He is good.
“We thank God for all good things and we trust Him with the rest.” – David Plaisted
My own life is full of many unknowns of things that have happened and yet unanswered prayers. Yet as a newborn Christian I was drawn to the verse that says “Though He Slay me, YET will I SERVE HIM.” Along with that was He works all things together for my good. Like David and you, I do trust Him with all..even the bad things. Recently I heard a story from Pastor Jamey’s podcast about the loss of their beloved church accountant Rob who just slipped away suddenly leaving wife and children. Jamey too struggled with this loss. He then shared his own story of a receiving a word about having a son (they have their firstborn son already) with Nicole’s last pregnancy. The baby died before birth, and next child was their little girl, not a son. Did they hear right about a son? She was #7, and they were certain that was completion and their family complete. But just recently a word was given to Jamey that there are to be 8. He wasn’t to sure, and didn’t want to upset Nicole; but when he got home, Nicole she said she felt the Lord was saying they were to have another child. They just found out she is pregnant with #8. This was then followed with another similar death situation story was told where the question was asked why did this happen? A wise brother in the Lord replied, “Oh, that’s easy..God’s not finished yet fulfilling His promises.” We may not have a specific word for everything, but we do have His WORD that He is in control, His ways not our ways, nothing happens to us that He doesn’t know about and He works out for our good. Nicole just gave a message about JESUS LOVED LAZARUS and stayed away 2 days more! His purposes far outweigh our way of thinking, and as she put it He’s not concerned about our comfort..loves us too much for that. I had some very specific words given me as a newborn Christian, that the Lord was faithful to let me know would take 40 yrs to come to pass. It just did 40 years later. IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT even with the painful and unknown reasons along the way. Faith is to Trust and Obey…and focus on Him, not the circumstances.