It’s a question humans just seemed wired to ask from that defining moment in toddlerhood when instinctively we ask “Why?” As pre-schoolers it’s “Why is the sky blue Mummy? Why do dogs smell funny Daddy? Why do I have to go to bed?” For most of us that question continually crosses our minds, if not our lips, particularly when things go wrong.
Then we not only ask why, we ask God why and then get angry with Him when we don’t like His answer. Even the most patient of parents sooner or later says something to their child to the effect of “Because that’s the why” or “Because it just is”, or like my Mum, “I’m the Mum, that’s why”. Or simply give no answer.
God too can answer our why with an explanation or not. Sometimes in His infinite graciousness we see later that He has used our pain for good. Mostly He doesn’t say anything but holds us close. And sometimes He simply asks us to trust Him.
In the process, whether we receive God’s answer or not, we often get frustrated and throw a temper tantrum at God, just like a toddler. We don’t accept his answer. We don’t like not knowing. We still ask why. And in asking why, over and over again we show our lack of faith and trust in Him.
Let me share three stories that lead to learning how to never ask God why again.
Firstly, I read the following true story recently. In Corrie ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place, she recalls the time she sat on the ground in a German concentration camp in World War II holding her beloved sister Betsie in her lap. The Gestapo had severally hurt them once again and beautiful Betsie was actually dying. As Corrie held her tight she looked to heaven and cried out to God, “Lord, why are You allowing this to happen?” In a whisper Betsie replied, “Corrie, if you know Him, you don’t have to ask why.”
This story rang true with something deep in my heart. If we truly knew God and His love for us, if we really knew Him we would really trust Him beyond our understanding of why things happened and simply rest in our knowledge of His goodness.
Maybe one reason this rang so true with me was because of a situation that happened early this year. I’ve had the same boss for four or five years now and over that time we’ve got to know each other pretty well. Over the years, like any work place, we’ve had some highs and lows and being a typical self-righteous human being I am I usually feel the right to know why things happen around the work place. If I don’t like what’s happening or agree with my understanding of a situation I’m the first person to speak up and ask questions. I try to do it in an appropriate manner but don’t always succeed in that.
Anyhow, earlier this year there was another incident at work where a situation looked a little fishy from my point of view. We were invited to speak to the boss individually if we had any questions about what had happened. Usually I wouldn’t have hesitated in asking why. Yet in a light bulb moment I realised that this time I didn’t need answers. I didn’t even need to have questions or look into the situation. I didn’t need to know what had really happened. Why didn’t I need to know? Because I realised that I knew my boss, being a man of integrity and good character, well enough to know that he would only do the best by his people, in the right way, with grace and integrity.
It was in knowing and trusting my boss that I didn’t have to ask why.
This is what Betsie was saying to Corrie. When we know God our faith, our trust in Him becomes big enough that we don’t have to ask why. Just as a baby doesn’t ask why Mummy dresses her in pink bunny slippers and hat or takes her to the cafe or puts her bed. A baby, a young child, a loved, trusting child simply has faith the Mummy will always only do what’s best for her.
The third story came across my path just a few days after Corrie ten Boom’s. This one takes the knowing God beyond the why to a whole deeper level.
Dr Helen Roseveare was a British medical missionary in Congo, Africa when in 1964 an uprising saw her captured and held prisoner for over five months where she was repeatedly beaten and raped. With strong faith she later said, “God challenged me: “Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience even if I never tell you why?””
Dr Helen had never before thought about God trusting her. Only of her trusting God. That God would trust her with an experience, particularly a horrific experience, was mind-blowing! And it certainly got me thinking!
Like everyone, I’ve had bad experiences in my life. I’ve asked God why and sometimes He’s been gracious enough to show me why. But until I read Dr Helen’s story I never thought to thank God for the experiences in my life, especially the ones that were painful. I never thought the dark valleys were something God was trusting me with. I’ve always known that God asks us to share some of our battle stories with others to help them in their own fight and I try to do this. But are these times gifts of trust just as I gift God my trust?
Challenged to thank God for the bad times, the hard, painful experiences of life I realise that when we do give thanks, genuine thanks, it can only lead us to one place – a place where we worship.
So the question today is: do you know God enough to never ask why again? If you don’t know Him that well, maybe today’s the day you need to take that step of faith and trust Him in the process of knowing Him better.