Have you ever wondered, “Why me?” My guess is that most of us have asked that at least once. Questions like this: Why did I get caught in that traffic accident? Why did I have to suffer that injury? Why did I get stuck growing up in that freak house? Why did I have an abuser? Why do I wrestle with these addictions every day?
We’re human, right? Every human questions life itself, the reason for being, and the Master Mind behind it all. I mean, we’re only human – we’re frail, tossed about by the winds of change, limited in our understanding, cautious, fearful of the next curve ball. It’s only natural.
You wanna know what my big question is? …. Why did it have to be me that held my firstborn daughter in my arms to wake up and find she was dead? Which then begs these other gnawing questions: Why did I have to suffer that trauma of losing her? Why did she have to die? Why do my husband and I have to live with this pain and sadness for the rest of our lives?
I take my questions to books. And then to pen and paper (or is it keyboard and screen these days?). I choose my resources based on this litmus test: the stories, the reasoning, the thoughts will lead me to absolute trust and faith in God based on the inerrancy of the holy scriptures.
Because…. after all…. if I don’t seek out the Master Mind behind it all…. Who else is there to turn to? If there isn’t absolute truth, then this is all meaningless chaos and my questions are lost in the void. But, I know, without a shadow of doubt, that there are absolutes in this life, that there are answers to life’s burning questions, that there is a Creator to be known.
The two books I’ve been investigating are When God Doesn’t Make Sense: Holding on to Your Faith During the Hardest Times by Dr. James Dobson and Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore. A few things I’ve read have stirred up a deep resonance in my soul. I’ve compiled a few passages from these books for you, reader, to mull over for yourself.
You know that adage of Benjamin Franklin’s? “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” Well, let’s consider the adversity principle in nature…
Biologists have long recognized this concept, which we’ll call the adversity principle, at work in the world of plants and animals. As strange as it seems, habitual well-being is not advantageous to a species. An existence without challenge takes its toll on virtually every living thing. Just look at the flabby animals in a zoo, for example. Food is delivered to them every day, and they need do nothing but lie around and yawn. Or consider a tree planted in a rain forest. Because water is readily available, it does not have to extend its root system more than a few feet below the surface. Consequently, it is often poorly anchored and can be toppled by a minor windstorm. But a mesquite tree planted in a hostile and arid land must send its roots down 30 feet or more in search of water. Not even a gale can blow it over. Its unfriendly habitat actually contributes to stability and vigor. – Dobson, pg. 147
Today I was reading further into this concept in the accounts of scripture. Remember that scary Bible story of the fishermen in the boat and the forceful storm that nearly capsized them all? Jesus was in that boat. The Son of God Himself with all the power needed over creation was there during that storm. And He was, in a way, disappointed with their outcry of fury and fear. Why? After all, they were only human…
Because fear and faith do not ride in the same boat. And because He wanted them to trust Him even when facing death. He permitted them to experience their need before coming to their rescue. Sometimes He also lets you and me ‘struggle with the oars’ until we recognize our dependence on Him. In so doing, He gives our faith an opportunity to grow and mature. But one thing is certain: We are ever in His vision. When His purposes are fulfilled and the time is right, He will calm the stormy sea and lead us to safety on the distant shore. – Dobson, pgs. 156-157
So, concerning this theme of adversity in creation – both the roots of the plants and the brains of the humans – bringing about a fierce strength of faith in the Creator, there’s more…
Throughout Scripture we see this consistent pattern. The Lord wants His people to be strong. Read again the story of the children of Israel wandering around in the wilderness – lost, thirsty, dirty, and homeless. They became tired of eating the same monotonous food – manna – and longed for the familiar surroundings of Egypt. I might well have complained about every one of those frustrations if placed in a similar situation. But note what is written in Numbers 11:1:
Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.
Now if that seems harsh, we must remember that God had chosen these people as His own, and He was doing a mighty work in their lives. He had rescued them from 400 years of Egyptian bondage. He even rolled back the Red Sea to facilitate their escape. He had cared for their every need, yet all they could do was grumble and complain. Scripture tell us God is long-suffering and slow to wrath – but He finally heard enough from this tribe of bellyachers. – Dobson, pgs. 158-159
I read that myself and thought, “In the extreme situation of loss and hurt and struggle, am I not supposed to tell God how I feel about it? I don’t want to make him angry toward me in my suffering! I’d rather we journey together through this suffering. How can I tell him how I feel without creating a riff?” Well, Dr. Dobson brought light to these deep questions of mine, and now I get it. In continuation of the above section…
Does that mean, as it would seem, that we should not feel free to express out deepest longings and frustrations to the Lord? Is He so demanding and detached that we must hide our fears from Him or try to be something we’re not? Should we grin and bear it when every cell of our bodies aches in sorrow? Must we mimic ducks that sit quietly on a lake but are paddling like crazy below the surface? No! At least 100 Scriptures will refute that uncaring image of God. Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). We are told that He ‘knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust’ (Psalm 103:14). I draw comfort, too, from God’s compassion to David when he poured out his fears and frustrations. We have no record of the Lord’s displeasure when David expressed his many sorrows and fears. – Dobson, pg. 159-160
So what gives? Some complaint and some frustration is ok but some isn’t? What caused God to be angry with His people who complained about the conditions of their hardship in the wilderness?
The answer is seen in the nature of David’s lamentations. They were expressed within a context of faith and dependence on God. Even when he was depressed, it is clear that he knew who his Lord was and where his allegiance rested. But the children of Israel were faithless and defiant in their grumbling. Once again, we see that everything in Scripture seems to reverberate to that vital little word, faith. – Dobson, pg. 160
Faith. Faith in what? Faith in who? The belief that there is a God who created this whole world and put me – and you – in it, and the understanding that He is a relational Being and as such created us with the desire to know Him. THAT is faith. The study of Him – His character, His thoughts, His actions, His purposes, His creation – is the representation of our faith that He is worth knowing and that He is worth trusting. As Beth Moore put it, “Truth breeds trust.” Truth about this life and this pain is only going to come from the Author of it all.
Enter, Beth Moore and her book on prayer. This book is about letting go of strongholds in life, the temptations to love things in this world more than loving the God who made this world. So this morning I was reading a bit more on that and I discovered this fact about God’s character in the midst of our storms, and it made all the pieces of my puzzle fall together.
Remember the questions from my own life that I shared above? I was heavy-hearted this morning. I hadn’t gotten much sleep, but I was wide awake with coffee and book in hand. Moore writes about being set free from our strongholds through the power of God, and I thought about my stronghold: the fear of the unknown. I live in fear almost every day. I don’t let it ruin my life, but I grapple with it in every situation. Will this be the last time I send my husband off to work? Will I die a young woman of cancer, leaving my precious family behind? How will I survive my parents growing older and watching them succumb to age? What will happen to my children as they grow up? What painful atrocities might they encounter?
Fear is the stronghold in my life. And I need God’s word to set me free. Fear cannot dictate how I live, hope and faith must permeate all I do and say till the end of my days on this earth.
Sometimes the overwhelming power of a stronghold may be instantly broken, but the renewing of our minds can take a little longer. Remember, strongholds are demolished when we are able to take our minds captive to Christ. Let’s face it, some ‘holds’ in our lives are simply ‘stronger’ than others. If God is getting our full cooperation, the length of the process to the intensity of the struggle is really up to Him. You see, it all depends on His objective. I am certainly no expert, but after about eighteen months of researching the biblical topic of strongholds and the Christian, I’ve come to believe God generally prioritizes one of two objectives: showing us His supremacy or teaching His sufficiency. – Moore, pg. 17
And suddenly, it all came together for me! Realizing how God has been at work in my life over the past year and a half since Heidi passed. He has been revealing to me that He truly is SUPREME and absolutely SUFFICIENT. Let me explain more…
If He is truly supreme then did He have the power to resurrect Heidi, keep her body functioning, make her brain turn on, give her more earthly breath? Yes, I believe that He does have that complete power. But did He CHOOSE to do that? No, He didn’t, and I will always wrestle with that answer. BUT, He showed us that He has the SUPREME power to rescue us, to stand by us, to uphold us, to weep bitterly with us when she was gone. He supremely reigned in our hearts and minds in the depth of our pain.
If He is absolutely sufficient then how do I accept His sufficiency when He allowed this horrific tragedy of my daughter suddenly dying? I find that since He has been incredibly gracious to me and my husband – carrying us through our grief and sustaining us in our darkest times – that He is SUFFICIENT for my pain, for my wrestling, for my journey of grief, for my life without Heidi.
So, I’m still human, right? I mean, I read this stuff and I forget when the next wave of grief or pang of fear hits me. But, I’m learning that, even in my humanness, I can run to God, throw myself at His feet, and beg Him to explain Himself to me, cry out to Him for mercy, and trust Him to be all that I need and more for the moment that I’m in. I’m learning that when God doesn’t make sense, He will make Himself make sense. I’m learning that when I pray through His scriptures that He shows up and puts the pieces of the puzzle together. He’s simply amazing like that, in storm and out of storm.
My friend, with your questions may you keep finding answers. And may you find that God – who made you – is more than worthy, more than able, more than you would’ve ever imagined…..