Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Why Question

Recently, in my previous post, I shared the heart-wrenching stories of several people that I personally knew that just simply died...all in a two week period. A young father in Florida, a mother of teenagers in Massachusetts, an infant baby boy in Alberta. On the heels of this was another heart-wrenching story of a three or four year old boy that we know that has a heart that beats at about 20 beats per minute. Sometimes at night it even stops beating! This lad now needs a pace maker.

It's these situations that these people had, you had, perhaps we all at one time had, where we asked God "Why?" Sometimes we crumble into a heap of desperation. Sometimes we may shake our fist in anger and scream the grand question "Why God? Why?"

Why do the young die? Why are people victimized? Why do people starve? Why do people murder? Why do natural disasters happen? Why doesn't God do something? You can fill in your own question of "why" and join the list.

You may have heard preachers and teachers share that personal and corporate tragedies are all part of the sovereignty of God's working among mankind. I'm not saying that they aren't. I am just not going to give a pat answer and move away from people's pain at this point. We may not want to hear that our suffering has anything to do with God's sovereign plan but it might. Even more frustrating is the fact that even though our suffering may be part of God's plan, he may not be inclined to share with us what that plan is at any given time.

The example of Job is a great way to look at human suffering in relation to God's plan for any given individual for it teaches us many lessons. Perserverance, longsuffering, faithfulness, God's restorative grace etc. But what we often overlook is the "why" question in the book of Job.

God never answered Job's "why" question. He may not answer mine or yours.

Look in Job chapter 1 verses nine through twelve where God is almost bragging on Job's perfect uprightness...

9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."

12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."

We know the bits and pieces of the story. Sickness, loss of all material possessions, the loss of the lives of his children and even his own wife urged him to curse God and die in light of all the aftermath.

I mean think about it. He lost everything in life based on what looks like a "double-dog-dare you" from Satan. So God allowed it.

Forget the friends of Job who came to "comfort" him in his state of despair. Forget the fact that bad things sometimes happen to good people. This is the worst season of Job's life. It's worse than most of us have ever lived through. What was Job's response?

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised."

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job didn't say that God did him wrong, even though God is personally responsible for it all. Unbelievable! Perhaps you don't think God is responsible? Look at Job 2...

3 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason."

There you have it. God admitted that he was responsible. He ruined Job for no reason. Or was there a reason? Lots of people will try to tell us, explain to us, teach and preach to us the reason. The fact of the matter is, although there are lots of life lessons to be gleaned from Job's story of tragedy to triumph, the one thing we really don't know is "why".

So keep believing, keep walking and when life's stuff happens to you, don't be surprised if you don't always have the "why" question answered. Just keep going. Just "because".

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