It’s a favourite toddler question. Why do I need to go bed? Why do birds fly? Why are apples red? Our young ones can find more “why” questions than we can ever imagine. It is their way of making sense of the world. Their inquisitive minds absorb incredible amounts of information in those early years.
We are built to want to know the why of things. In our quest to gain the knowledge of the world, we want to know how things work and why things are as they are. Our human minds want to make sense of things and understand their purpose. The urge to know why has led to many great scientific discoveries – great vaccines, new treatments for diseases, new understandings of the animal kingdom, and so on.
Asking why when it comes to our personal lives, though, can become a burdensome thing. When we have troubled circumstances our first inclination is to ask God – “Why?”
A day after my cancer diagnosis I had a long chat with a friend whose husband has battled cancer. In our conversation, the “why” question emerged. In my case it particularly centered on why God would allow this disease at this particular time and why I needed to experience this at all – very normal things to ask.
My friend spoke of having lots of “why” questions too as her spouse underwent treatments. Her husband wisely commented that what does the “why” matter? We are here, in this situation, at this time. The “why” of it all will not change things. Knowing why God has allowed this in our lives is not going to make any difference in how we traverse through it all.
It can be very detrimental to our well-being to dwell on the “whys”. I know it hits me hard many days. Focusing on why something is happening usually just leads me to be upset and/or dissatisfied. “Why me?” can lead to strong feelings of hopelessness and even fear.
Will the “why” questions totally go away? Not likely. My mind always wants to know what God’s purpose is in any given situation. I just need to remember that when the “why” questions strike, there is only one answer – God knows best.
Sometimes the “why” questions come out of despair. The Psalmist says:
“Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” (Psalm 88:14 NIV)
Sometimes our lives are deeply troubled and we wonder where God is. We can seriously wonder if He has forgotten us because nothing in our lives seem to be going right. We wonder if He truly hears our pleas for help.
Thankfully, God is always there. Like a loving parent who will let go of a child’s hands so they can learn to walk on their own, our Heavenly Father also, at times, lets us go to try out our wings. Our concerns never fall on deaf ears. God just doesn’t always answer in the affirmative. Sometimes He knows it is in our best interest to have Him say no or later.
Since my friend’s comments I have tried to take a new tactic. When I am tempted to go to God and ask why He has placed me in a particular situation, I turn it around and thank Him for leading me where He has already. It encourages me to trust in Him for whatever is coming.
Why bother with “why” questions when they just upset life even more? Rather than trying to figure out what God is trying to teach me in a given situation, perhaps it is time to instead reflect on all that God has done for me. His track record is certain and secure. Mine is not. Isn’t it best to go with the proven Winner?
The “why” doesn’t matter. The “who” does. God, in His infinite wisdom, sees all of our life’s journey. He sees the pitfalls ahead and often diverts us through struggling paths to avoid major consequences. He ultimately plans for our good. That is a promise.
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