The why question is a tricky one. It can be asked in so many different ways—from intense anger to humble mystery.
The prideful man wants to know why so many bad things happen to good people. The humble man or woman, overwhelmed with God’s kindness, wants to know why so many good things happen to bad people.
Looking to Scripture, I think it’s okay to ask this question as a humble follower of our Lord. But I also see that God doesn’t usually answer the question.
David starts some of his psalms to the Lord with the question of why. But often by the time he gets to the end of his “why question,” he seems to be praising God.
Jesus also asked why … and he heard nothing but silence from heaven.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” —Mark 15:34
Remember Job and all his “why questions”? He also received nothing but silence. When finally God chose to speak, he simply asked Job, “Where were you when I made the universe?” (Job 38).
My conclusion is that it’s okay to ask any question we want to the Lord God—requesting a response to our why dilemmas. However, when I ask the question of why, I don’t think I’ll get an answer. That’s almost like a gnat wanting to understand how the universe works.
Most of the time, I have no idea what our Lord may be doing … in good times or bad times, success or failure, good health or sickness. But even when I can’t “connect the dots” of my painful circumstances, I can always go back to the cross. I can go back to Jesus’ “why question” and know I can trust the heart of my sovereign heavenly Father.
Romans 8 shouts this truth. It allows me to say thank you to God even in the midst of my pain and sorrow. Why? Because nothing will separate me from the love of Christ.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:37-39
When we say thank you in situations we cannot understand, we’re walking the “walk of faith.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. —Proverbs 3:5-6
We’re acknowledging Him—trusting Him—when we thank God for His ways … even when we have no idea at the time why we are going through difficult circumstances.
I believe this is why Paul could tell us that our character is developed into “Christ-like character” when we suffer and endure difficulty without becoming angry or bitter at the ways of God. He’s making us like Jesus.
Never forget: even though Jesus didn’t hear the answer to His “why question,” His confidence in the Father’s cup of His sorrow never wavered.
John Maisel, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of East-West Ministries International, resides in Dallas, Texas. He has authored books such as Is Jesus God? and Radical Trust that challenge all people to radically rely on Jesus Christ.
Buy John Maisel’s latest book: Radical Trust. All proceeds benefit East-West Ministries.