Lately we have been witnessing and experiencing what feels like yet another influx of trials and losses. My husband and I were recently discussing this, as it’s hard to make sense of it all. Therefore, the universal question that is asked when tragedy strikes is, “Why?” During our exchange, he shared with me a recent conversation he had with an old friend. This friend went through similar hard times several years ago, when God prompted him with a life-changing question:
“We should not be asking, ‘Why?’ but, ‘What?’”
We actually said “but, ‘What?’” in unison. It’s no coincidence that was exactly the life-changing question I had been wrestling with after recently receiving some devastating news closely followed by walking through a couple of extremely challenging situations. I was facing a lot of “Whys?” but growing weary in asking, “Why?“. So the Lord was leading me to, “What?”
In the song, “Do Something” by Matthew West, the lyrics state:
So, I shook my fist at Heaven ,
I said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did.” Yeah. “I created you.”
I love this for many reasons, but in this moment, knowing that God is allowing me, our family, and our friends to go through these hard things, and will continue to as Jesus reminds us in John 16:33 that “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” But just before that, He also assures us, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.”
So while it’s easy to ask, “Why?”, it’s also extremely paralyzing. We may not get our immediate answer on this side of Heaven. But if we ask, “What?”, we mobilize. We go forward. So, I have been doing a lot of asking God, “What?”
What am I to do about this?
What am I to learn through this?
What am I to encourage through this?
So right now and in the future, as we face trials and tribulations of many kinds, what are we as His believers to do?
Be Seekers of His Wisdom
Consistently righting our minds with the Lord’s truth each day puts us in a posture to see things the way God sees them. His truth is a grounding like no other, the firmest of all foundations. And when I am at a loss for what to do, turning to scripture is single best thing I have done in the hardest of times.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
– James 1: 2-6
Be Salt and Light
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
– Matthew 5:13-16
In the first century, Jesus and His followers would have known salt to be key for preservation and to enhance flavor. So, He would have been encouraging those who were in step with God to preserve the world in which they live and to show people God’s goodness. And, as Jesus pointed out, if His followers were to lose their saltiness, they would no longer be effective at protecting and amplifying God’s goodness in the world.
Light overcomes all darkness. And God IS light. We are to be light to drown out the darkness and draw others to God and His goodness. The metaphors of salt and light amplify the impact Christ-followers should have in the world. We should illuminate and preserve. Like both salt and light, our relationship with God should have an obvious impact on everyone who comes in contact with us.
Be Focused on Eternal Life.
So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.
– 2 Corinthians 4:18
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
– John 17:3
If we limit our focus to what is of this world, the blows that come our way will take us down. Our purpose and perspective will be limited. Our lives futile. With an eternal perspective, we have boundless hope. The tough things that rock our world will not rock His world and His promise of life everlasting. On a firm foundation we will press on and as Paul encouraged in Philippians 3:14, “…press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
– John 14:2-3
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
– John 3:16
Friends, we believers are living in eternity. Our perspective needs to be eternal. If our question is consistently, “Why?”, our hearts are pointing to what’s temporary, here, and now. But with hearts pointed to “What?”, God can use that to show us what this truly means in the face of eternity and what we can do today with that perspective.
The overflow of that will be encouragement, strength, peace, and most important of all, love.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
It’s hard not to ask “Why?” when faced with life’s tragedies. After all, we do not have all the answers and there’s too much that we’ll never understand on this side of heaven. But there is a God who reigns over it ALL, and I choose to trust in His ways.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
– Isaiah 55:8-9
I was just listening to a podcast this morning where author and blogger Meg Bucher shared that perhaps the hardest thing to work out in our faith is the way God answers our prayers. Scripture promises us that He hears and answers, BUT it’s not always in our way, or in the timing we pray for. We need to trust that He is faithful, and only His miraculous hand in our lives can produce the “what” – the supernatural change we experience when we seek Him in all things with all our hearts. Sitting in the “why” can’t do that for us.
Please join me in closing with excerpts from a beautiful prayer Meg shared along with her message:
Father, today we bring to You the impossible prayers we have been praying to You. We lay the burden of them down at Your feet. The worry we won’t see the answer we want, in the time we want, on this earth. We lift them up to You. You are in control, God, even when it feels like everything is out of control. When people are taken from us too soon, when sickness and tragic accidents seem to win, we are shaken, Father. In those moments, we feel our prayers have failed us, but remind us of Your sovereignty, God. Remind us of Your goodness. And place a peace in our hearts which allows us to cope, embrace comfort and receive Your compassionate encouragement and faithful direction in our lives Lord. This is a prayer to make it happen, God. We will continue to pray for miraculous healing, even though we can’t see it, or when it will come. Today, we choose to believe Your timing over our agenda, knowing that the years of our lives are but a fast lap around the track in comparison to Your eternal existence. We pray for your will to come to fruition in our lives. Let today be a step in Your direction and let every day that we live on this earth bring glory to You. Show us the way You have marked out for us, give us the courage we need, and the confidence required to walk in the Truth the rest of our lives. Helps us to notice and embrace the people You have placed around us. Father, let our lives be a channel of Your love. This is a prayer to make it happen by Your hand, in Your time, according to Your will, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
One thought on “The Big Question We Should Be Asking God”
Wow- Thank you Jenn – this is beautifully written and a much needed message.