As a bit of an intro (not really a disclaimer) – most of my ponderings are (hopefully) fairly relevant across the board. This one is a little more applicable to those who define themselves as Christ-followers – but everyone, please read! You might be surprised . . . .
“I don’t know why . . . . . “
Yeah, I say that a lot!
Usually after I’ve thought and pondered and analyzed a person or a situation, a challenge or a circumstance – – – really, anything – good or bad, happy or sad, blessing or struggle – – – that’s my end result.
I don’t know why.
It’s a question that is asked in verse and song:
“Why did an old lady swallow the fly?”
“Why do the stars go on shining?”
“Why do the birds suddenly appear?”
“Why in the world would you ___________________?”
“Why did you do that, say that, think that?”
Really, I even ask that of myself! “Why did I do that, say that, think that?”
Apparently most of life’s whys are not for us to figure out. Just like the whens, wheres and hows.
Usually the whys of life are only answered by trusting, waiting, obeying and moving forward, clinging on or leaning in and living. Living, struggling, thriving, hoping, crying, smiling, laughing, breathing, trusting.
As a mom I ask a great many “Whys?”
I’ve asked why I lost babies before they were born. But then, I look at my girls born later, after the earlier losses, and can’t help but ask “what if not?”
We’ve asked “Why?” after job losses, world events, and the great loss of friends and family either by death or separation. Three of my dearest and closest friends have “left” me over the past few years. My daughter and son-in-law moved away right before the birth of our first grandchild. In all instances, all were without question God-ordained in His time and for His purposes, but that doesn’t negate the feelings and questions – Why? Even when I think I know the answer I still ask the question.
My daughter recently staffed a booth on a college campus for a ministry fair. She met several people who shared their life stories with her. A 24 year old young woman shared she had been paralyzed from the waist down in an ATV accident. All of us would ask – Why? But the young woman told my daughter it was the best thing that ever happened to her! Again – we would ask why? Remember the part about trusting and waiting, obeying and moving forward, clinging on or leaning in and living. And trusting. That’s why. Because without a clear answer, that is really our only option.
She also met a missionary couple who had only been married a few years. The woman shared that she had prayed for a husband for 38 years. Her husband was previously married for 38 years to his wife who succumbed to breast cancer. They met after those 38 years had passed. Slowly, I’m sure those 38 years passed for the one. Happily, and then sorrowful, for the other. Their whys may be answered in part. But it took a lot of waiting to get to the answer – even a partial one.
A dear friend’s young infant daughter has recently been suffering from a serious illness. And while the sweet child has been physically suffering, her parents have suffered in the way only parents could – waiting to see the outcome of the treatment and prayers for their precious girl. Why? – Why does this family have to go through this?
Another friend told me this week that her granddaughter lost a grandparent on the other side of her family. And her question – Why? Why does God put people on this earth just to take them away? An honest question from a hurting loved one.
In all of the whys of life the only answer that gives any relief, rest or possible attempt at understanding is not Why but Who.
I can think, work, ponder, manipulate, struggle, worry and fret – or I can choose to trust the Who.
Isaiah 55 says “my ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts.” There is no way I could even begin to see, much less fully understand, the big picture that God, as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, has planned, painted and ordained. My life is but a simple, single, small part of His grand, perfect plan. But I’ve chosen to believe in and trust Him for both my life here on earth and my life in eternity. As part of that trust, I’ve got to let go of the determination and supposition that I am to know the answers to all of the whys, and further, that I should be able to have some control over or say in how the whys are resolved.
My favorite hymn is probably “Come Thou Fount.” The words “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the one I love,” are really me asking “Why” in all of the areas of my life that I am refraining from really trusting, waiting and thriving. I’m letting the whys draw me away. I may not be physically wandering, but my questions are pulling me away from the full and fulfilling, thriving, life of rest and resolve that could await me by putting away the questions and simply moving forward in faith.
So what Whys may draw us away, instigate our wandering?
Why – . . .
- . . . Is my child being bullied?
- . . . Is my marriage hard?
- . . . Is my bank account not brimming?
- . . . Is my waistline expanding?
- . . . Can I not get pregnant?
- . . . Can I not get a job?
- . . . Have I lost a loved one?
- . . . Does life seem so hard?
- . . . Does life seem so unfair?
- . . . Do I worry and fret?
- . . . Do things not go my way?
- . . . Do people disappoint me?
- And the seemingly never answerable “Why do bad things happen?”
Fill in the blank to your Why? We all have dozens. I don’t believe God has any problem whatsoever with our questions. He can handle them. He may or may not choose to answer or resolve them. But here’s where the trusting and the waiting come in.
I know my God created me. I know He loves me. I know He has purposed me for this life. I know He has created good works for me to do. I know He gave His only begotten, beloved Son so that I might have eternal life with Him. I know He knows all, sees all, has power and control over all, and is absolutely everywhere He could possibly be. I know He will not give up on me and He will hold me fast in His hand. He will see my life to completion at the time He knows and ordains that to be. He did start me off in this life, after all. He will see me through to the completion of my purpose in Him, and then He will take me home. Those are the Whys beautifully and clearly answered in His Word. And if I fully trust Him, trust His Word and trust His promises and providence, I can maybe, just a little bit, let go of some of the Whys. At least after I’ve asked them a few thousand times.
At least, maybe, after the first thousand questions I can get back on track and stop my wandering.
Come Thou Fount also includes the “raising of my Ebenezer.” The Ebenezer is a memorial stone that commemorated the Lord’s help in battle. It was to remind the Israelites of the help given to defeat the Philistines. I think we need to raise Ebenezers whenever we can to remind us of God’s goodness, kindness, grace, mercy, provision and love. Because when the next big “why” of life comes along, and we start down the “wandering” away, our Ebenezer can draw us back to remind us of the Who. The Who has it! God has it all!
And Come Thou Fount’s “fetter?” – it binds us to the Lord – even during our seasons of “why” to keep us from wandering. To keep us close. To keep us until we get an answer to the why; realize and accept we may never get an answer; or get to such a place of deep trust that we know whatever the answer it is going to be just the way it should be.
That’s a tough sell – to let go of waiting and wondering (and wandering) and simply trusting through the current “why” of your life. Whether your “Why?” is big or small; a bump in the road or life-shattering or altering; it is held lovingly and tightly in the grip on the One who is the only true answer. It is trusting that the answer to your Why may never be fully given or understood – but you are good with it. You can move forward living and giving, serving, obeying, striving and thriving.
In my past attempts to teach teenage girls about the sovereignty and timelessness of God, about the very best (truly meager) “picture” and description I could summon was that of a clear water bottle. ( i.e. – “lessons from the water bottle”)
In my simplistic, inadequate explanation I would illustrate that if you hold a water bottle on its side you can depict the top of the bottle as representing the beginning (Genesis) and the bottom as representing the end (Revelation) of human history. The contents of the water bottle represents just that – human history as we know it through the Biblical account. Our Sovereign, Almighty, Creator God is outside of time (the water bottle). He is able to see precisely from the beginning to the end. Time is meaningless to Him because He is unlimited by both the time and the space contained within the entire human experience (the water bottle). He is looking at history and clearly, perfectly sees when and where He has sovereignly placed (ordained) each one of us. He can see completely from before the past (the beginning of human history) to today to the future – all the way to the end (the end of human history) and then to the entirety of eternity. Simply, He can see ALL.
At the appropriate time in history, in accordance with His plan and purpose, He inserted Himself into the water bottle in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, as fully man, allowed himself to also be limited by space and time. Once Jesus was resurrected and ascended, He, too lives and reigns outside of time. He is also able to look into the “water bottle” and see us living our lives. Our God, Who created us (in His own image), ordained our days, purposed our lives, died in order to save us from the eternal penalty of our sinfulness, loves us perfectly, wants to deny us no good gift, wants to make us into the likeness of His Son, wants to spend the remainder of eternity (after the water bottle) with us in splendor and perfection has an absolute hold on the water bottle. He created the water bottle and set its contents into motion. He has never once let it slip from His hand nor has it ever been hidden from His sight.
Our God, who knows all, is everywhere and who has power and control over all, has us constantly and continually in His sights and in His grip.
As Babbie Mason sings in her song “Trust His Heart” –
“He sees the master plan
He holds the future in His hand
So don’t live as those who have no hope
All our hope is found in Him
We see the present clearly
But He sees the first and last”
He holds (the water bottle). He sees. He loves. He allows. He is able. Can you trust Him with your Why?
The next time you are asked, or the next time you have pondered and analyzed and your only answer is “I don’t know why,” trust the Master of the Why.
He is worthy of our trust, worthy of our holding on for His glory and moving ahead because our whys of life are within the most capable and most available hands for His good and perfect plan and purposes.
Thought to Ponder: What “whys” of life are causing you to wander from the One you love? Are you able to get to a place of peace and trust that you can let go of the Why (even if you have to ask a million times) to get back on track of the journey planned, ordained and purposed for you?
And p.s. – Here’s an additional thought to ponder. Do “bad” things really happen to those who believe, in faith, the existence and character of God; the truth and veracity of Scripture; the salvation brought through the gospel of Jesus Christ and the empowering, enlightening, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit?
Yes, dreadfully sorrowful, deeply challenging, definitely disappointing, desperately uncomfortable and decidedly difficult things occur in all of our lives. But are they “bad” for us?
See – for a start in your search for an answer:
- Psalm 84:11
- James 1:17-18
- Romans 8:28-29 (hint – v. 29 is really important in your view of the good in v. 28)