Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Ask Why?

There are so many things that happen in life that cause us to ask, “Why?” Sometimes, at the top of our lungs we want to scream, “Why?” We want to shake our fist at God and say, “Why me?” “Why now?” “Why her?” “Why this again?!”

I have a friend who has cancer. She’s not asking, “Why?” She’s asking, “Why not?” We live on planet earth. This is our temporary home. We won’t be perfect and whole until heaven. There’s no reason to think that some of us won’t get cancer. I love her response early on when she first received her diagnosis. When people tried to treat her like she was knocking on death’s door, I remember her saying, “I’m not dying, I’m living!” She has not slowed down enough to ask, “Why.” She is busy doing ministry and caring for other people. She knows there may come a time when she will have to slow down physically, but as long as she has the strength and energy, she intends to allow God to use her to do whatever He’s calling her to do.

Lysa TerKeurst, in her book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl, says, “Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us farther from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.”

We’ve all had life situations when we were tempted to ask, “Why?”
  •          Why did our son get mixed up in drugs?
  •          Why have relationships between family members gotten so strained?
  •          Why does life have to be so hard?
  •          Why is there so much grief in the world?
  •         Why must people suffer?
  •          Why must children go hungry?

The list could go on and on. The problem with asking, “Why?” is, it causes me to get stuck in an endless loop and wallow in my grief and guilt. I begin to ask questions like,
  •          Why did I let my daughter get into a car with a 16-year-old driver?
  •          Why didn’t God intervene as he does with so many others who miraculously survive car accidents?
  •          Why wasn’t I a better mom to my son?
  •          Why didn’t I see that he was sliding down a slippery slope?
  •          Why didn’t I do more to protect my kids?
  •          Why hasn’t God “shown up” for my son?

Just typing those words makes my blood pressure rise. But asking those questions gets me nowhere. It does no one any good. It doesn’t bring my daughter back and it doesn’t help my son with his addictions. I can’t do anything to change the past, I can only change my future.

Lysa TerKeurst says the more appropriate question is, “What?” I remember when we lost our daughter in a car accident, I didn’t care why. It didn’t matter why. Knowing why wouldn’t bring her back, so who cares? I did, however, need to know what. What do I do with this? What do You want me to do, Lord? What next? I had planned to focus on her for the next three years. I wanted to help her make the transition to our new community and get through high school. I knew after that, it was likely that I would have a lot less time to spend with her. I thought I had three years. But I didn’t. So, now that the whole focal point of my life was gone, what was I supposed to do?

I’ve been seeking the answer to that question for seven years now, and somehow, I think I’ll be on this quest as long as I live on planet earth. As long as I’m growing, learning and changing, the answer to the “What next?” question changes as well. We’ve had several other major transitions in life since our daughter was killed, and with those situations, I’ve been more tempted to ask, “Why?” But God continues to remind me to ask, “What?” instead.

So today, in what situations are You asking God, “Why?” How would asking, “What?” change how you approach that situation? Once you begin to ask God, “What?” better buckle up and hold on tight! You may be in for the ride of your life!

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!