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Friday, April 12, 2013

Why, God?

Did you ever ask God why?

I did.

A friend died. He was only in his early twenties. He had recently finished seminary and was ready to start his ministry.

But, he died.

I asked the Lord all night long, “Why him?” “Why now?” “Why?” “Why?” “Whyyyyyy?”

It was one of the most difficult nights of my life.

That was the first of several times I questioned, “Why, God, did this happen?” I didn’t ask often, only when I had no idea how the situation could possibly work together for good (Romans 8:28). There was that young person’s death, and then there were some very serious sicknesses. I questioned the pain.

I wasn’t the only one with questions.

Some people in the Bible also asked God why. God was patient with them and answered them. I think that God understands when we don’t quite get what He’s doing. While He doesn’t honor rebellious whys, I think He understands when we ask Him with sincere hearts.

Let’s look at some of the Biblical questioners:

Moses—He asked God why He was acting so harshly toward the Israelites and also why God was sending him to Pharaoh, since Pharaoh didn’t cooperate at all. God graciously answered Moses, Now shalt thou see . . . I am the LORD . . . I have remembered my covenant. Moses hadn’t seen the end result yet, but he could go on and do God’s work with the assurance that God was in control. (See Exodus 5:22-6:5.) Later, when Aaron had made the people a golden calf, and they were worshiping it in heathen abandon, God got very angry and said He wanted to destroy the people. Moses asked why God would want to turn His hand against the people that He had just liberated from the Egyptians. Moses argued that the Egyptians would think less of God if He freed them just to destroy them. God’s response? And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people (From Exodus 32:9-14, quotation from verse 14).

Gideon—In Judges 6, we read about the oppression of Israel by the Midianites. God tells Gideon that He has chosen him to lead the people. Gideon asks, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites (verse 13). Instead of getting mad at Gideon, God answers him with another question, Have not I sent thee? and with the promise, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man (verses 14 and 16). Later, Gideon tests God with a fleece, just to make sure. God understood that this man’s questions were legitimate, and He honored them.

Job—He asked God why He let him be born, if He was going to destroy him. By the end of the book of Job, God blessed him by returning his wealth, replacing his children, and restoring his health. Job had his answer, then.

The psalmists—All through the Psalms, we read emotional questionings of God. Almost always, the whys are followed by statements of trust. They ask God why He (seems to) stand afar off, hide Himself in times of trouble, forsake, not help, forget, cast off the believer, etc. (Examples are from Psalm 10:1; 22:1; 42:9; 43:2.) Afterwards, the psalmists express faith and trust in God, in His care, and in His love.

Jesus—It is interesting that the only questioning of God in the New Testament is from God Himself. When Jesus was on the cross, He cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46, also in Mark 15:34) I don’t think this question was actually a question. It seems to be more of an anguished cry, maybe even a statement of the fact that God forsook Jesus when He took our sins on Himself on the cross. God turned His back on Christ in that one moment because Jesus was full of sin. God never really forsook Himself, but He sacrificed His Son in love for us. This was the moment of supreme sacrifice, and it’s impossible for us to comprehend it fully.


Do we ask it in defiance?

Or do we ask it, looking for God’s answer?

I think that there lies the difference in good questioning and bad questioning. Moses, Job, and the others asked. God answered. When we are seeking, God might answer.

Or, He may not.

He might answer us now—through His Word, or through an opened door, or by sending us someone to guide us.

He might not tell us now. God may want us to wait in faith.

We might never know—until we get to heaven.

God wants us to trust Him for the answers. What He is doing is right and good and just. Even though we don’t see why at the moment, God sees the whole picture. He understands what is ultimately good for our lives.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

And we know that all things work together for good
to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Was there a time when you asked God “why”? Did you find the answer? If you’d like to share, please leave a comment.

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