on “why me?”

Posted: July 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

I was at JPUSA church a few weeks back, on my weekend visit to see my fiance and some other folks as well.  The subject of the message, and then of a smaller discussion group afterward, centered around those times when we are asking God, “Why?”  Two women spoke during church – one who has survived a horrific violent crime of the sort that makes the evening news, and one who has a child with autism.  The messages were simple, direct, and open.  There was no pretending.  No handing out of easy answers.  No slapping a Bible verse on it and declaring the discussion closed.  It was a really good message.

One of the take-aways I got from it was this:  our questions about why God lets us suffer are really questions about whether we can trust Him.  Instead of asking, “Why me?” we would do well to ask, “If God had not been FOR me, what might I have not survived?” 

Because we can be so fond of holding on to our injury and our “right” to our resentments, such a message can be hard to swallow.  It certainly is far easier to take from someone like the two ladies who spoke that day – people who have clearly been through very real trials.  Much easier than, say, from someone who might appear to have never suffered. 

The most powerful moment for me, though, was afterward as a smaller group of us circled up to discuss the matter further.  Someone pointed out that all she had to do was look around the circle.  So many had come through trials that might seem really just too much to bear.  When she suffers hardship, she said, she thinks of all of those stories and it is more natural to think, “Why NOT me?  Why should I get set aside for no troubles, when all of these wonderful people around me have come through so much?” 

The beauty of community, at least as it is done at JPUSA, is the openness.  I might have only lived there for 9 months, but I knew enough to fully resonate with what she said.  I could look around the circle of faces and rehearse many stories – stories that each person had shared in one way or another.  Stories of loss and pain, brokenness and blindness.  SOME of the stories were “B.C.” (Before Christ), but many were awful things that happened when people were already were Christ followers…thereby debunking that silliness of the promise implied by some that coming to Jesus will make all the painful stuff stop happening. 

Natalie Grant’s song “Held,” which I know I’ve recommended on my blogs many, many times over the years, says it well: 

Who told us

We’d be rescued

What is changed

And why should we be saved

From nightmares

A faith that understands that we often WON’T be spared pain is, I think, a more mature faith than the one that shouts that if we will just live rightly enough, just believe strongly enough, just say the right prayers and expect the right things, we can actually get the prize of the pain-free life. 

In the end, I guess it comes down to the question that God keeps pushing,over and over again – “Do you want ME, or do you want the goodies I can give you?” 

I am going to be married next month.  I am SO VERY GRATEFUL that my fiance wants ME, and that he’s not just rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the many ways I can give to him and serve him and make his life better.  Oh, I will be more than happy to give to him and serve him and make his life better – but it’s immeasurably merciful and good and precious that I’m more important to him than all of that.   

While it’s a slippery slope, likening God to people (HE is GOD, He is NOT people, no matter how much we try to make Him fit in our little box), I do think He gives us these kinds of relationships as a picture.  He teaches us the difference between greedy needy manipulation and real love.  He’s good like that. 

May we stretch and change and grow…and learn to love Him like that as well…maybe even so much that we cast the question, “Why me?” behind us, and leave it back there where it belongs. 

 

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