Asking God Why
Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy? (Job 13:24)
Three of the psalms begin with why: “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble”?(10:1); “ My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (22:1); “O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?”(74:1)
But each of these pascal sends with a note of trust in God. The Psalm writers did not allow their whys to drag on. They did not allow them to take root and grow into accusations againstGod. Their whys were really cries of anguish. A natural reaction to pain.
By contrast, there are sixteen whys in the book of Job, according to author Don Baker. Sixteen times Job askedGod why. He is persistent and petulant. He is accusatory toward God. And, as has been observed by many, God never answered Job’s why. Instead He answered who.
Pastor Baker, in his book on Job says, “I have long since quit seeking the answer to that question [why?] in my own life….God owes me no explanation. He has the right to do what He wants. Why? Because He’s God…..Job didn’t need to know why these things happened as they did- he just needed to know Who was responsible and Who was in control. He just needed to know God.”
Though we should never ask a demanding why, we may and should ask God to enable us to understand what He may be teaching us through a particular experience. But even here we must trust God that He is working in experiences for our good, even when we see no beneficial results. We must learn to trust God when He doesn’t tell us why, when we don’t understand what He is doing.
Proverbs teaches us the value of trusting God, a trust that is beyond our understanding and even beyond our faith. Many believe that with enough faith they can force everything in their lives to conform to their expectations. They are quite sure that if they muster enough faith, pray the correct prayer, stand on the right scriptures, they can control the outcome of all of life. Many of these become castaways of the faith when things do not go according to their plans. The Bible never teaches us that we can in some way force the hand of God to move at our command. Instead it teaches us to trust in God in every situation. Proverbs 3 puts it this way:
“Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil. It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts] And refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones.”
The question of the why is often centered around our perception of God. We know that God is all powerful and that He has no limits to what He can do. We know that He can work miracles, heal the sick, bring deliverance to those who are held captive, and solve every problem. We know that there are times when He has done all those things. The Bible is filled with stories of that nature, so we are sure that God can. The question is not whether He can but whether He will or more specifically whether He will for us. When we have prayed about something and it doesn’t appear that God is answering, at least not in accordance to our preferred answer, we begin to ask why. The why is a reflection of our perception and to some degree of our relationship with God.
Proverbs three says that we should “trust in the Lord with all our heart.” To trust with our heart requires that we have a heart relationship with God. What I mean by this is that we know we love God and more importantly that God loves us. Once we understand that we are truly and fully loved by God then our trust in Him increases to fully trusting Him in all things even when we don’t understand the why. Proverbs three tells us that in this trust we cannot “rely on our own insight or understanding.” As least for me this is where the conflict in my heart is found. My trust in God and my own understanding of a situation brings me to a crossroads. At some point I must choose to trust God beyond my comprehension of what is happening in my life. My default mode then has to rest on my knowledge of His great love for me. The love that God displayed in the sacrifice of His Son on my behalf.
Children don’t always understand the why of parents. As immature individuals they question the decisions of their parents and why is one of their frequent words. Once a child matures they begin to see the reasons for many of their parents decisions and so it shall be with us as the children of God. Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not believe it is wrong to ask God why especially in the midst of a painful experience. Jesus, hanging on the cross, cried out “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Our Heavenly Father is never offended when we ask why no more than we as parents are offended when our children ask why. But at some point as we do as parents God just answers, “Because that’s my decision and you must accept it.”
Perhaps instead of focusing on the why we should shift our question to the what and especially the Who. When the disciples asked Jesus why was the man blind the included in their question whether it was the man’s own sin or the sin of his parents. They were more focused on why the man was blind rather than what could be done about it. This is my point. Many of us spend great amounts of time trying to figure out why things happen or who caused them to happen or who to blame for them rather than seeking what there is to be done about them. Jesus responds to the disciples with a surprising answer. He says that neither the man’s or his parent’s sins caused the blindness. It was merely an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed.
Two questions have become my response to life’s issues. Question one: God what are you trying to teach me in this moment? Question two: How can you use this for Your glory and my good?
I’ve discovered that in almost every situation I can find the answers to these two questions. The answer to why will be known if necessary one day when I stand in His presence. Until then I trust in His love. As Paul was told when asking for the thorn to be removed, “My grace is sufficient.”
“but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
May we in all our insufficiencies tap into the sufficiency of God and may we trust that everything He permits in our lives in the view of eternity work together for our good. Until we understand, we trust in His love.
Dr. John Thompson