Do you find yourself asking, “Why God?”…..Me, too

In response to yesterday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I find myself asking, “Why God?”

Am I alone in my search for answers? No…I am certain of that.

Many are asking God, “Why?”. Many are questioning their faith in a God who is Good. I know this to be true, because in the face of my own tragedy, I questioned my faith in a God who could allow death and destruction of human life.

God I know you are Good. But…Why?

Why did you let this happen? Why did you allow so many young children to perish? Why right before Christmas? Why did this young man do this? Why couldn’t someone stop him? Why didn’t you do something supernatural to arrest his plan? Why?

I don’t understand. I don’t understand how you can be so good, yet allow something so horrible to happen.

I don’t think we will ever understand, or know the answer, or be able to comprehend in our finite human imagination why God – whom I believe knows my past, my present and my future, who holds this world in the palm of his hand, and who loves all His children {even those who hate and who do heinous things} – allowed yesterday’s tragedy to happen,

Until the day of Glory when I sit at His feet, I will hold that one question close to my heart and wonder why. Only when I am with him in Eternity will I then be able to ask him.

Until then, I must rest, ponder, pull closer to Christ – even in my doubt, my anger, my sadness and my confusion – and confess that I am a sinful human who cannot possibly understand His ways.

…..

I wrote the following words weeks ago wondering when it might be an appropriate time to share them. As I reflect and ponder the question, “Why?”, I am once again reminded of the lesson I once learned and want to share it with you.

May God’s blessing be on you this day anew. May you be filled with the Peace of Christ. May you rest in Him when the questions fill your mind, and you waver in your faith or doubt His goodness. Amen

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911 memorial

in the face of tragedy

We often find ourselves in the position of asking God, “Why?”.

When tragedy strikes.

When babies die.

When marriage covenants break.

When illness overpowers.

When darkness hovers over our souls.

Why?

Why?

Why?

…..

In John 11:1-44, we read the account of Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, being brought back from the dead by his dear friend, Jesus.

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”  So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him,“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said,“Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

…..

Before I share my thoughts on this passage, let me make it clear that I am not a theologian or Bible scholar. I have not attended college courses on Greek or Hebrew, or gone to Seminary. But, I will tell you this. I have been studying the Bible since I was a little girl. I have heard many sermons preached, read many books, and journaled for many hours in an attempt to sort out the meaning of Scriptures for myself. I am not alone, nor are you, on the journey to find Truth. The Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts as we read and ponder on God’s Holy Word. I believe the Spirit lives in me and helps me discern meaning in the Holy Scriptures. I believe that the Word of God was breathed by Him, and is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12)

I believe this now more than I ever have before. Since that fateful day, when my tender faith came crashing down, I have labored endlessly and personally with God, My Father, to sort out my questions, doubts, and concerns. I stumbled along an arduous road of unbelief in order to finally arrive at a place of Absolute Belief in the Truths held in the Bible. God has been faithful to me along my quest for Wisdom and Knowledge.

In humble obedience, I share what I have learned with you.

…..

This account from John suggests to me that there remained, in some of His most devout disciples, Mary and Martha, measures of unbelief. After all they had witnessed, been taught, trusted up to this point, there remained some doubt in their minds.

Both women had believed in Jesus as the Messiah. We can see that illustrated in their statement,  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”. Had Jesus arrived sooner after Lazarus’ death, he would have been able to raise him up. But, now it was too late. {I have been told that it was believed at the time that the soul left the body after the third day of burial. So it is significant that Jesus didn’t show up until day four.}

Mary and Martha both knew of Jesus’ ability to raise people from the dead.

…..

So, why didn’t Jesus show up until four days after Lazarus’ death? In fact, why did Jesus wait two more days to come after He had heard the news? Read again what it says in the Scripture,

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (John 11:5-6)

It states he stayed two days longer, because he loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. What??

Could it be that his staying longer and not coming to them right away was because he loved them? Really?

This is when it got interesting for me.

This is when my Why’s began morphing into What’s.

God, what does this mean? What are you trying to teach me here? What were you trying to teach Mary and Martha? What can I learn from them? What can I learn about You?

…..

Mary and Martha knew Christ to a certain depth. They trusted Him to a point. They placed their faith in Him…almost.

Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Their brother had died. Love of a sibling runs deep. Their grief was raw and fresh. They were not ready to say goodbye. They did not believe Jesus would be able to raise Lazarus from the dead at this point. Too much time had passed.

Yet, Jesus did, Lazarus was resurrected. Mary and Martha, as well as many other Jews, witnessed the miracle.

Is it possible that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus so much that he wanted to grow in intimacy with them by revealing more of himself to them?

He showed them, that despite society’s belief, He had the power to raise people from the dead even four days later. Their depth of understanding of Christ as the Savior of the World had now reached a deeper level of intimacy. The foundation of their friendship was more deeply rooted and therefore would one day be able to withstand the ultimate pain of His death.

I believe, through the act of raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus gave Mary and Martha – and Lazarus – a Gift. A deeper, unwavering, firmer faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

…..

For me along my journey of grief, there was a shift from a Why? to a What?. It didn’t happen until I had exhausted the Why questions. I was weary from never getting an answer. Finally, giving into the wisdom I had been offered, my question shifted to “What God?”.

I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that is was a holy, tranquil, reflective moment where the heavens opened up and the sunbeam shined down on me. Nope. Instead, I remember the moment being more of a *%$#@ moment! {Insert BLEEP button here.}

Okay God, if not Why? then What?!! What could you possibly teach me about you?!! How could I possibly grow in intimacy with you in the face of this tragedy?!!

“finch-clenched, teeth-gritted, chest puffed out” moment- raging, yelling getting it all out until I was panting, shaking, and hot from the effort of ripping off the bandage, opening the wound once again.

However, this time I was ready to receive the Gift that would bring me through to the fullness of His Healing Light.

…..

Jesus makes three statements in the above text that confirms for me His Gift to Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)

AND

To His disciples: “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:14-15)

AND

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42)

He did what He did so that God would be glorified and so that those who were witnesses might believe.

My conclusion? There is Divine Purpose in the painful and tragic events of this life. Even when I don’t understand the “Why” and even when I feel grief, anger, and rage. There is Divine Purpose. I believe that to the depth of my soul.

…..

I do not want to come across as trite. Nor do I want to dismiss the pain of those who lost loved ones yesterday in Connecticut and all those who are grieving the death of  a loved one right now. I certainly did not appreciate the “thoughtful, heartfelt comments” like, “He is in a better place, ” or “God has a plan”, or “At least he is no longer suffering”. While well-intentioned, they did nothing to ease my pain.

And, if your emotions are raw now, my words will not soothe you immediately. But, when you are ready, read them again. Find the Hope that is contained in them. There is a divine purpose and if you allow Him, God will draw you closer to Himself and reveal a deeper part of Himself to you.

…..

My prayer for you is that after the initial pain and shock of this tragedy subsides, your Why God? will change to What God? I am certain that if we remain in asking God Why? and never move towards asking God What? it will only cause us to be stuck on the wrong side of His Gift to us – the revelation of Himself, and a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ.

newly purposed,

jana

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Do you find yourself asking, “Why God?”…..Me, too

  1. Jana,
    This is incredible. You put so much thought, insight, and wisdom into your words here. This trusting God in our most vulnerable places is so hard. Thank you for your time in sharing this shift from “why” to “what.” Beautiful.
    Blessings to you,
    Karin

    • Thank you, Karin, so much! Your words truly are encouraging. Sometimes I feel like such a poser as a writer. This is all still so new. I don’t know if anyone is reading what I write, or if friends just say they like my posts because they are friends. So, thank you so much for taking the time to send me a comment. ~jana

  2. This is one of the hard part of the stories … Jesus wanted to do more than heal and in order to do more than heal, more initial pain was caused. This is a hard one to take in – when one is in the middle of the pain. And I love what you said … for greater intimacy. Exactly. And Holy Moly God it hurts! Why didn’t you come sooner? Love that you wrote on this …

    Much love,

    Tina

    • Thank you, Tina. Yes, it is so hard! I sigh, taking in a deep breath just thinking about it all…..Envisioning you in the warm sun of Chile. I am shivering here in the northeast. Thank you for taking time to stop by and visit jana’s three dresses. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. All is Grace, jana

I would love to hear from you!