When 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