I have one child in particular that asks that question about everything. Why does it work that way? Why did you say that? Why does the earth revolve around the sun rather than revolving around Jupiter? More often than I’d like to admit, I don’t really have a good answer for her “why”. And then there’s that one time out of ten where I just can’t stand it anymore, and in a moment of desperation, my response is “Because I’m your mother and I said so!”
Lately I find myself asking that same question of my Father in heaven. “Why? Why was my son born with so many disabilities, while so many other children are born perfectly healthy? Why, when I have so much to DO, am I saddled with chronic fatigue that is often debilitating? Isn’t it enough that I have to care for my son’s every need at the age where he should be much more independent? Why, Lord?”
There’s this constant battle inside me between asking real, honest questions about my circumstances, and allowing my focus to rest on my difficulties rather than on my Savior. As soon as that starts to happen, it is so easy for me to descend into self-pity. I have to give myself a virtual cheek-slap and use every bit of willpower I’ve got to make a choice: I will choose to worship Him rather than indulging in self-pity. I will choose to go to His Word rather than a self-help book or an article online. I will choose to be grateful.
And maybe I’m asking the wrong question, anyway. Maybe instead of asking “Why?” I could just as easily be asking “Why not?”. I was never promised that my life would be a bed of roses. In fact, as a follower of Jesus, I was promised that I would suffer (John 15:20). As soon as sin entered the picture in the garden of Eden, I was guaranteed life in a broken world. So, when I encounter suffering in my life, I can choose to respond in one of two ways:
I can focus on my difficulties, indulge in self-pity, specialize in navel-gazing and generally descend into despair because the object of my focus – me – does not offer the hope, help, or peace that I so desperately need.
– OR –
I can focus on my God, engage in worship, specialize in gratitude and gradually learn contentment because the object of my focus – God – offers all the hope, help, and peace that I so desperately need.
I’m encouraged when I remember that when I encounter suffering, it helps me to identify more with Jesus (Philippians 3:10). And as much as I wish it could happen some other way – being like Jesus is something I really do want.
Now if I could just learn to walk through it the way he did…with grace, humility, and an ultimate surrender to the will of the Father.
God, help me.