12:05 am and two miles from my exit…my wife asks me what’s on my mind…I guess I’m a little quieter than usual. “I have a lot to do in the next 24 hours,” I tell her. I’ve been out of the office for a little over a week and only one day to catch up before another short trip that leads up to Sunday. I do that…get lost in my thoughts when there is a lot looming over my head. I’m planning and plotting to come up with a way to get done what seems to be mocking me from the shadows. Somehow, I’ll get it all done…or at least what has to be done.
However, there’s something more that is troubling my mind on this journey. It’s a gnawing at my heart and my mind that just won’t go away. It’s the thought that I later posted as my Facebook status, “I am so frustrated that God doesn’t fit in my box…yet if He did, I wouldn’t believe in Him any more.”
The last month has been filled with some good moments of worship, prayer, walking with brothers in pursuit of Jesus. A covenant commitment has brought some spiritual rewards for me…and others. I’ve been encouraged and bolstered in my faith by God’s Spirit and through the interaction with brothers. I’ve found strength and resolution in some aspects of my marital relationship. These days have been, at times, uplifting, and at others, extremely difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy or pity; I’m in a much better place than a brother with whom I’ve been walking. My faith isn’t shaken, for sure…but, out of this has come as much a question as an answer…and as much an answer as a question. The question is “Why?”
The Question both Answerable and Unanswerable
“Why?” is not an easy question to answer. It is a question a young child asks that drives a parent to frustration. Incessantly asking, “Why?”, will inevitably lead the adult to respond, “Because I said so!” For a child, this may stop the verbal questioning, but it is unlikely to stop the mental inquiry. At that moment, the child may stop asking due to a fear of more drastic consequences, but there will not be the satisfaction of knowing the answer. As maturity is gained, it is likely that the answer will become clear…if not because of explicit answers, perhaps because of implicit observation. If there is a knowledge and satisfaction that the parent loves the child, there will be a sense of security that pervades even if the understanding of “why” is never achieved.
“Why?” answers don’t always come. This is the most frustrating aspect of the issue. I’ve said it…to myself and to others, “We may never know why that happened.” That, while absolutely true, may seem hollow and to fall short when we are in the midst of a very painful situation. If knowing why is absolutely critical for us to survive or thrive…if that alone is the source of peace…peace may be a condition that will forever elude us. For the reality is this…we may not know why…it’s that simple. It is what it is. For that reason, there will need to be another source from which that peace comes.
God isn’t afraid of our “why” questions. He isn’t caught off guard by anything we face…or ask about. Perhaps, that in itself makes the situation even more difficult. If God knew this was going to happen, why did He allow it? Or…even more frustrating, why did He cause it? We get angry…we cry out to, or against, the God whom we’ve been taught loves us and will take care of us. It is in that place of emotional and spiritual anguish that we question…we want to know why, as if we think that will make things better. Perhaps it would. But, then again, perhaps it would only bring more questions.
Sometimes God answers our questions…at least we can look at it that way. Well…I know He does. I have seen it…in my own life and in the lives of others. Sometimes, like in the life of Job, He doesn’t answer until much later…and then, not fully.
Here is one thing I know…God is faithful. God is love. God is real. In the following installments of this series, I will continue to wrestle with the struggle of “fitting our thinking” into the Truth, rather than fitting God into my box. This will be a journey for me as much as anything. For as I travel this path, I am doing so in order to shoulder a burden I feel for others who are asking this question…I’m searching for their answer…I’m searching for my answer.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
The Next Post in the Series is HERE.