Friday, September 28, 2007

Is Wrong To Ask God "Why?"

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOften in my work as a grief counselor, counseling people through periods of loss and transition, people always ask "Is it wrong to ask God why?" That's a tough question to answer and one that I used to ponder on myself. Personally, I don't think it's bad to ask God "why" when one is in the throes of deep pain and suffering, blinded by the tears that accompany an occurence of deep grief. It becomes wrong I guess when we remain stuck in asking God why and turning our wrath and anger on Him and on our loved ones.

The other day, I came across a devotional by best-selling Christian author, Elizabeth Elliott who is one lady who has known many episodes of loss and grief in her life. Let me now share it here with you...

"Sometimes I've said, "O Lord, you wouldn't do this to me, would you? How could you, Lord?" I can recall such times later on and realize that my perspective was skewed. One Scripture passage which helps me rectify it is Isaiah 45:9-11 (NEB): "Will the pot contend with the potter, or the earthenware with the hand that shapes it? Will the clay ask the potter what he is making?... Thus says the Lord, would you dare question me concerning my children, or instruct me in my handiwork? I alone, I made the earth and created man upon it." He knows exactly what He is doing. I am clay.

The word humble comes from the root word humus, earth, clay. Let me remember that when I question God's dealings. I don't understand Him, but then I'm not asked to understand, only to trust. Bitterness dissolves when I remember the kind of love with which He has loved me--He gave Himself for me. He gave Himself for me. He gave Himself for me. Whatever He is doing now, therefore, is not cause for bitterness. It has to be designed for good, because He loved me and gave Himself for me.\n\n\u003cp\>Is it a sin to ask God why?\n\n\u003cp\>It is always best to go first for our answers to Jesus Himself. He cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" It was a human cry, a cry of desperation, springing from His heart's agony at the prospect of being put into the hands of wicked men and actually becoming sin for you and me. We can never suffer anything like that, yet we do at times feel forsaken and cry, Why, Lord?

The psalmist asked why. Job, a blameless man, suffering horrible torments on an ash heap, asked why. It does not seem to me to be sinful to ask the question. What is sinful is resentment against God and His dealings with us. When we begin to doubt His love and imagine that He is cheating us of something we have a right to, we are guilty as Adam and Eve were guilty. They took the snake at his word rather than God. The same snake comes to us repeatedly with the same suggestions: Does God love you? Does He really want the best for you? Is His word trustworthy? Isn't He cheating you? Forget His promises. You'd be better off if you do it your way.

I have often asked why. Many things have happened which I didn't plan on and which human rationality could not explain. In the darkness of my perplexity and sorrow I have heard Him say quietly, Trust Me. He knew that my question was not the challenge of unbelief or resentment. I have never doubted that He loves me, but I have sometimes felt like St. Teresa of Avila who, when she was dumped out of a carriage into a ditch, said, "If this is the way You treat your friends, no wonder You have so few!" Job was not, it seems to me, a very patient man. But he never gave up his conviction that he was in God's hands. God was big enough to take whatever Job dished out (see Job 16 for a sample). Do not be afraid to tell Him exactly how you feel (He's already read your thoughts anyway). Don't tell the whole world. God can take it--others can't. Then listen for His answer. Six scriptural answers to the question WHY come from: 1 Peter 4:12-13 (Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though somethings strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.); Romans 5:3-4 (Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.) ; 2 Corinthians 12:9 ( But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."); John 14:31 ( but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. "Come now; let us leave."); Romans 8:17 (Now if we are children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.); and finally, Colossians 1:24 ( Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his bosy, which is the church.). There is mystery, but it is not all mystery. Here are clear reasons."

So yes, if you are reading this and wanting to ask God "Why?" then my reply is, go ahead and ask the questions but believe that, just as he has promised, "all thing work for good for those who love the Lord." From the depths of suffering and darkness trust that one day there will be great rejoicing and light.