Hope Answers Why

why imageWhen life unravels and we struggle through it, our first response is often, “Why? Why God, did this have to happen?”

“Why did my precious tender-hearted Dad have to disappear into the shadows of dementia?”

“Why does my mother have to continue through this Alzheimer’s journey when she spent half her life taking care of Dad and praying against this disease? I don’t understand, God. Why?”

King David, asked “Why?” And even the son of God, Jesus himself, pleaded for an answer, “Why God have you forsaken me? Why?”

Usually, heaven is silent and we don’t receive an answer to this question. I suppose God wants us to exercise faith and learn how to dig deep within, to trust him when the “Why” question isn’t answered.

And maybe our finite minds can’t understand even if God does tell us what’s going on.

But in one version of the story of Job sits a verse that might help us understand. I’ve only found it in the New American Standard version, but I’ve hung on to it during those times when life unravels.

It is amazing to me that the answer appears in the book of Job – wrapped within the story of this patriarch who suffered so long and so intensely – this good man who lost everything, including his health. Not even his best friends could help him understand.

Yet this verse shouts the answer to our “Why” questions: “Whether for correction or for His world or for lovingkindness, he causes it to happen” (Job 37:13 NASB).

Correction: Sometimes things happen to us so that we will learn important lessons – spiritual or practical lessons.

Our blood pressure spikes. Perhaps the lesson is to balance out life, learn to say, “No” and get the rest our bodies need.

When life unravels, instead of asking “Why?” maybe we should look upward and ask, “God, what are you trying to teach me here?”

His world: Sometimes the things that happen to us are a direct result of the world we live in.

A drive-by shooting takes away a precious child because some irresponsible person fired his gun out the window or reacted to some inner anger and didn’t care about anyone else. We live in a scary world.

Last week, the news was filled with the tragedy of a train derailment. One of the rules of physics is that if you take a curve at 100 miles per hour in a metal car attached to metal rails, some of those train cars may detach and go flying. As a result, people will be hurt and some of them killed because that’s how physics works. It’s incredibly tragic, but our world is filled with tragedies.

Lovingkindness: This is the really hard one. How can it be loving or kind when terrible things happen? Why does a good God allow terrible things to occur?

Maybe it’s because he looks at the situation through timeless eyes and a heart that is bigger than this world.

A teenager is arrested for drunk driving and sentenced to several years of imprisonment and/or probation. His parents are devastated. He misses his graduation. He loses his college scholarship. But isn’t that kinder than if he continues to drink, becomes an alcoholic and ends up killing someone with his car?

Death is not always the worst scenario. A surprise heart attack is tragic, but easier to deal with than a lifetime of slow death with Alzheimer’s.

Is it better to perish in a tornado or to slowly starve to death in a prison camp? Which would you choose? Which death is kinder?

Ultimately, even with this verse in Job, we don’t have control over the unravelings of life. We never know what the next twenty-four hours will hold.

That’s why it’s so important to enjoy each day, to love God and each other with full hearts. That’s why hope is so vital.

Because even when we can’t figure it out, when the “Why’s” of life don’t make sense and heaven is silent – hope keeps us moving toward the next sunrise.

Hope is that eternal optimism that at some point, all our unravelings will make sense and pain will disappear.

And as one pundit has written, “When we get to heaven, we’ll take one look at the replay of our lives and understand what God was doing. Then we’ll understand and we’ll say, ‘Of course.’”

What do you think about Job 37:13?

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

God’s Encouragement

After an unexpected trip to the emergency room, we returned home, weary but grateful.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Mom,” my son said as he hurried off to work.

“Me, too. Thanks for helping me.”

The symptoms of GERD often mirror the symptoms of a heart attack, so my doctor has told me, “Always get it checked out. You might think it’s GERD, but you need to be sure. Go to emergency and let them check your heart.”

While grateful that this latest episode did not require any hospitalization or further tests, I also struggled to understand. Discouragement hit me like a heavy mallet. Why? I had been so careful with my diet, eating slowly my small meals every day and staying away from anything that might cause a digestive upset.

Why did this happen when I had almost paid off the medical bills from the last episode? Now more bills would pile into my mailbox, notices from each of the professionals who tested me, talked to me or hooked me up to expensive machines. And how could I prevent it from happening again, this delicate balance between what I put in my mouth and how my body digests it?

I decided to walk around the back yard. Anything to free myself from the questions, to escape from the receipts and reminders of what had just happened.

God, I need some encouragement, please. For some reason, you have allowed this to happen and although I thank you it wasn’t worse – now I’ll be faced with enormous bills again. I’ll have to call and set up payment schedules with each place and try to pay them off a little at a time, every month, forever. Please, God, I need something to encourage me.

I tried my usual tactics of repeating Bible verses and singing praise songs. But they didn’t work. Somehow anything I tried to manufacture fell as flat as the stones in my garden.

Another trip around the back yard and another. Tears of despair and wondering if life was ever going to get better. Must I always and always struggle? Was this another test to see if I would trust God?

I do trust you, and I know you are faithful. I’m just tired of having to barely manage financially, and I don’t know what I ate that set me up for this again.

Then on another lap, I picked up a stick that had fallen from the wintering of my trees. I broke it into several small pieces and decided to put it on top of Ivory’s grave – my sweet Siamese who passed over the rainbow bridge three years ago. I miss her still.

tulipsAs I bent over, I saw the tiny green spires of tulips, trying to poke themselves through mulch and into the sunshine. Tulips. The first signs of spring.

It was as if a fresh breeze lifted my worries and carried them to another part of the city.

God still made tulips grow through the tough branches of winter. He knew how to bring color to brown patches of earth and splash hope on my dreary day. He heard my prayer for encouragement and followed me around the yard, pointed out the stick and led me to place it on my Ivory’s grave where I would see his sign – his precious reminder that he cared.

Yes, the bills will come and somehow they will have to be paid. Yes, I still struggle with digestive issues and fight this delicate balance of what and how to eat.

But God is greater than it all and he is still able to bring life out of death, hope out of worry and faith out of fear.