Hope Asks Why

“Why, God, why?”why-god-allows

We ask the why question, because we need to find some type of order in life. When situations don’t make sense and we can’t logically figure them out, we ask why.

“Why did both my parents have to struggle through dementia and Alzheimer’s – especially when they were both so healthy? I don’t understand, God. Why?”

“Why did my friend have to lose her husband after the loss of both parents in the same year? Doesn’t that seems a bit unfair? Why?”

“Why do single moms and their children have to suffer the consequences when the dad makes unhealthy choices? Injustice screams, ‘Why?’”

Years ago, when I attended a legalistic church, a young man in our community was killed in a train accident. It was brutal and a terrible shock to all of us. Our youth group met to discuss it. Those were the days before counselors were available.

One of the church leaders gathered us together and said, “This young man died because he must have sinned. So be careful how you live. God is watching.”

Even as a teenager, something about that theory seemed wrong to me so I started my own search. I looked through my dad’s Bible, because it was the King James version and we had been taught it was the only version that espoused truth. However, good old King Jimmy provided no answers for my teenaged heart.

Years later I found more of the answer in a different version of the Bible. Poor old Job who suffered so terribly provided a plausible variation to the Why question: “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness – He causes it to happen” (Job 37:13 NASB).

For Correction

Sometimes God allows terrible things to happen because we need to be shocked into reality and reminded he is sovereign. Perhaps in those moments of horrific happenings, we will reset our course and start over.

How has this played out in history? How have other historical figures looked at correction? Did Adam and Eve raise Seth differently because of what they learned through their parenting of Cain and Abel? Probably, although I don’t think we can blame parents for the choices their children make.

God reminded the Israelites to stay away from foreign altars by allowing snake bites to kill

caduceus medical symbol chrome

and maim. A drastic resolution, to be sure, but it does explain some of God’s dealings with the Israelites. And today, we have the medical symbol to remind us of this historic event.

Hasn’t history taught us to be careful of the Hitlers of this world because of the Holocaust?

When terrible things happen to us, I think one response should be “What can I learn from this situation?” Rather than the “Why” question, perhaps we should rephrase it with “What?”

As gracious and loving as God is, he sometimes allows terrible things to happen. Why? So we can learn from our experiences and grow up.

But I do not believe we should live in the fear of making a mistake because God might cause a train to run over us. Sheesh!

For His World

We live in a world defined by depravity. Just try to find a television show you wouldn’t mind watching with Jesus plopped beside you on the sofa.

We are deceived into thinking we can fill our minds with pornography and not face any consequences.

We believe we can speed and drive drunk and nothing will happen because we are somehow immortal.

We eat what is not good for us, buy guns and forget to hide the bullets from children, look at someone’s skin color and judge him.

Our world is not a safe place to live, so obviously – bad things are going to happen. Tornadoes, floods, earthquakes – all of these factor into the orb we inhabit. None of us can avoid some sort of tragedy during our lifetimes. It is part of the definition of living.

Why does God allow the world to sometimes turn against us?

To remind us we are human and a better place does exist. Tornadoes will not touch heaven, nor will the sin of someone else force thorny consequences on families.

Heaven and an eternal existence with God is something we long for, live for and hope for. This world will someday disappear.

God wants to remind us he has planned for something better.

For Lovingkindness

This seems the most difficult of the Job answers. Sometimes God allows certain tragedies to happen because he is a loving God.

That seems backward, an opposite world treatise. I do not believe we can ever second guess Almighty God.

But I do wonder… did God allow the groom to be killed the night before his wedding because he would someday betray his bride and destroy his family?

Does God invite little children into his heavenly arms instead of allowing them to live full lives because he knows their homes and their families will be bombed into oblivion and it is kinder to take them out of the horror?

Will God prevent disaster by allowing a change in course?

I do not pretend to know what God determines about anyone else’s life, but I do know he has sometimes worked backward lovingkindness into my destiny.

Hindsight is always wiser than the present experience. God allowed me to be downsized out of a good job. Then he pointed me toward something better.

Unemployment was hard, but the next job was so much better for me and fit my giftings. My “Why?” question became God’s answer, “Just wait and see what I have for you.”

During that year of unemployment, I began writing a book that resulted in a trilogy and taught me how much fun fiction-writing could be.

How does Job 37:13 fit in with the journey of Alzheimer’s? Part of the answer has to include the world we live in.

The stresses, the electromagnetic fields around us that affect our brains, the ways we have destroyed our food chains and how we have polluted our water source, the chemicals we pour into our bodies that taste good  but end up affecting the brain.

All these worldly systems we have invented may contain a clue.

I hope God isn’t correcting me or any of my family members by allowing us to watch Mom suffer.

But I am willing to ask God to teach me through the process, to grow patience in me and hopefully – by sharing these words with you – to transfer hope within this blog.

As Reverend G so aptly says, “The question is ‘Why?’ but the answer is ‘Who.’”

God is in control of everything, and when we cannot understand why – the best thing we can do – is run into his loving arms.

©2016 RJ Thesman, Author of the Reverend G Trilogy

 

Finding Hope When Healing Delays

When healing doesn’t happen, we tend to ask, “Why?”caleb on the beach

Does God have a greater purpose in the process? Have we prayed correctly, cried out to God fervently enough? Have we sinned, somehow preventing God’s awesome power at work?

Everything within me screams, “No! God is so much bigger than my attempts to justify his silence.”

Yet as the days and nights pass and we struggle through the question of “What is wrong with Caleb?” we have to wonder at the delay of answers.

Since God is omniscient and omnipotent and all the other omni’s – he knows exactly what has happened to cause this distress.

He knows every hair on my son’s head as well as every nuclei in his millions of cells. God’s heart beats in sync with my son’s as they are united by blood – the redemptive blood of Christ. I know God loves my son.

Since God knows what’s wrong, then why won’t he tell us? We are searching everywhere for answers – reading internet articles by experts who list the symptoms of a myriad of causes:

Allergies, gluten, mold, diabetes, stroke, brain tumors, carbon monoxide poisoning, Alzheimer’s – really? Alzheimer’s at age 29?

Some of these illnesses we are pursuing; some have been rabbit-trailed. The most dangerous ones met with a resounding, “No, that’s not it.”

Thank you, God.

Yet the giant question mark haunts and no one knows the answer.

Except One.

So why the delay?


I wonder if we are caught in a heavenly conflict – another God versus Satan moment where both sides hold their breath while the Jobs of the earth are tested.


Will we trust God? Will we be still and know that he is God?

Satan smirks but God smiles and sings over us. He knew the ending before the beginning ever germinated.

And when this Job falters, when I cannot sleep for the fear that beats against my mommy heart – the prayers of others sustain me.

Some of you – reading this post – are praying for us. Thank you.

Satan falls because prayers always push him down.

Will we trust God and persevere through to the other side?

We sing out that God Himself, who allows the test is also the One who keeps us from falling.

Yes, bless God. We will stand strong.

Because when healing waits, God has a purpose. And no matter what happens or how it plays out – in the end – God always wins.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

 

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

Forgetting Mom

What a crazy week!

I worked at the day job 10-12 hours, rushed home to water the flowers before they bent their sad little heads and shriveled up, exercised a bit, ate a few bites – then sat down at the computer to write, fell into bed and did it all over again the next day.

You know the routine.

But this was a different week, because I forgot Mom.

Each week, I send Mom a card. I go to the Dollar Tree and buy cards for 50 cents – fun cards with little animals or happy faces – usually in the kid’s section.

Then I go home and write a little something to Mom about my work or about her grandson in college. I pray over the card, ask God to help my mother through another day of Alzheimer’s and stamp it for mailing the next day.

As the long distance caregiver in the family, this is my weekly attempt to assuage the almost daily guilt I feel because I can’t be there for Mom. I send a card and hope that somehow through the miles, she will hear my love and know how sorry I am that I can’t do more.

But last week – with all the extra activities – I forgot to send the card. greeting card

I romped along in my busy life, helped several women with their issues, coached some clients, wrote a blog post, spoke at a church event, worked on my novel – and totally forgot about Mom’s card.

Guilt sandwiched between two slabs of more guilt.

On one side of my heart, I know it doesn’t matter. Mom never remembers that I send cards and sometimes – even with my signature scrawled on the bottom – she tells people that my cards are from her sister.

But even if she can’t remember, I need her to receive my cards and to know that I care. I need it because even if she doesn’t care about the cards, I do.

And yes – I know I will someday deal with the guilt, when life isn’t so crazy – I’ll grieve my way through it and write pages in my journal or enough of these blog posts to somehow bandage the grief.

In the meantime, I’ll send another card – right now – and hope Mom will open it in a couple of days, laugh at the graphic on the front and tell somebody, “This is from my daughter in Kansas.”

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Reverend G’s Favorite Phrase

The question may be ‘Why’ but the answer is ‘Who.’

From the time of Job and beyond, we have asked God, “Why?”  Why do good people suffer? Why did this happen to my family? Why must I deal with this horrible situation?

Even King David and King Jesus asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We rarely discover the answer to our whys although we know the answer now to Job’s dilemma, because we have read the book. We know that God and Satan entered into a contest with Job as the pawn. Job prevailed, and God blessed him.

Yet Job didn’t read the book. God answered this faithful man with His own questions, “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place?”  “Have you entered into the springs of the sea? Have you walked in the recesses of the deep?”

Here in the cracked earth of the heartland, we listen expectantly as God asks Job, “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds so that an abundance of water may cover you?”

God answers Job by pointing to the Who. Only God commands the morning and causes dawn to spread across the sky. Only God enters the sea and walks in the recesses of the deep without drowning. Only God can lift up his voice to the clouds and send an abundance of water to stop this drought.

Oh, God – we ask you to send rain.

Reverend G’s questions might include, “Why did you let me sink into the shadows of Alzheimer’s? Why is my ministry taken away from me? Why must I face the possibility of forgetting those I love?”

The only answer is Who. God is sovereign, and he alone knows the eternal perspective.

Reverend G knows that when we struggle with the whys of life, the only possible way to survive is to trust our questions to the One who designs the answers.

That is true faith: Not being afraid to ask why, even while knowing the answer is Who.