At some point you will face difficulties that will cause your faith to be challenged. You may or may not question the existence, goodness, or power of God outright. But when you become overwhelmed, there will come a time when you ask some version of the question, “Why, God?”
The cause of your question may be current or long past, a single incident or long-term suffering. It may not seem that devastating to someone looking on from the outside, but it wrenches and tears at you in the deepest places of your soul. It might be:
- Child abuse – your own, or that of someone you care about
- Domestic violence
- Betrayal in your marriage
- The death of someone you care about
- A child’s sickness, disability, or serious injury
- A news report such as the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, CA
You may ask your WHY in a number of ways: Why didn’t You stop this from happening? Why can’t You bring relief or healing? How could You allow something so evil to happen? How long will this suffering go on? Couldn’t You have fulfilled Your plan some other way?
You know the Bible stories of those who asked some variation of that question. Job certainly did. So did David, repeatedly. And Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Jesus, among others.
- “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?” (Job 7:20)
- “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)
- “You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” (Psalm 43:2)
- “Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” (Psalm 88:14)
- “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (Jeremiah 8:22)
- “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?” (Habakkuk 1:3)
- “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
It’s not wrong to ask the WHY question. It comes to all of us at some point, in some way.
But once you’ve asked the question, what do you do then? Where do you go with it?
4 Steps to Dealing with WHY
These suggestions on how to handle the WHY questions have been helpful to me. Perhaps they will be to you as well.
- Express your WHY to God. If the Bible tells us anything, it’s that God’s people can come to Him with their questions. You don’t need to worry that He will be mad at you, or turn you away. His shoulders are big enough to cry on. If nothing else, read one of the Psalms out loud that expresses pain, frustration, fear, or anger. God won’t be surprised at the strength of your emotions.
- Be willing to get help. Shortly after the loss of my husband a few weeks ago, one of my friends who lost her own husband three years before wrote me a long note. At the end she told me, “Nobody can help you but Jesus.” Although that may not sound comforting, it was to me, and was what I needed to hear at the time. Let other people speak into your life. They can’t fix you, but allow them to be there with you and help express what you’re feeling.
- Do the next right thing anyway. Keep taking one small step forward even if things don’t make sense. Keep your integrity; don’t hurt those closest to you, or do things you will later regret. Keep feeding your soul with worship or Bible reading or time in nature. Your mind may be swirling, but being in God’s presence is the best way to put yourself in a position to hear His answer when He does speak.
- Be open to a different kind of answer. God may not satisfy your intellectual striving in the way you think you want Him to, but His answer may be more healing and meaningful than any intellectual answer ever could be. And when He does you will experience the miracle of hope in the midst of loss, healing in the midst of pain, and joy in the midst of sorrow. You may come to know something of the bigger eternal story that God is working on.
As a young woman I struggled with my own version of WHY questions over some parts of my personal history. I came to know that even when God doesn’t give us an answer that satisfies our curiosity, He always gives us Himself. He Himself becomes the Answer.
Yes, ultimately the Answer is a Person. Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, becomes the Answer to your WHY questions.
I encourage you to give Him space in your life to become that Answer for you.
Your Turn: Have you asked some version of the question, Why, God? What did you do with that question? Leave a comment below.
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