It was a great to be with so many last night via the Digging Deep podcast. We kicked off our year-long prayer study. It’s still not too late to invite friends to join us. The study group is a great tool for evangelism as well as personal growth. One of the features that many women like is that it really does allow you to go at your own pace, do what you can when you can and even relax if you fall behind or have to take a break along the way.
Last night we talked a bit about questioning God. There were several of our characters in the study who did just that. Abraham did it in Genesis 15, verses 2 and 8. Moses did it on several occasions (Exodus 5:22; Exodus 32:11; Num. 11:11). Job did it in chapters 40 and 42 and Rebekah did it in Genesis 25:22. Jesus even asked the question “Why?” in a wondrous fulfillment of prophecy as he hung on the cross (Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34).
As we discussed our own prayers, we concluded that most of us have asked God questions in prayer. Two major categories of questions arose from your comments: (1.) We ask God HOW. How can I handle this situation? How can I be more godly in this strife? How can I please you as I meet this challenge? (2.) We ask God WHY. Why am I going through this most difficult trial? Why do I have to sorrow? Why can’t I have a better circumstance at this point in my life? Why is this very hard command imposed upon my will?
I think we’d all agree that asking God HOW (i.e. for wisdom and maturity in handling our life’s trials and situations) is a good thing. But, is it a good thing to ask WHY? I think it all depends on what we really want to know. Let me explain.
When I ask my child to do something and she responds with “Why?”, that is generally unacceptable. Oh, I know that it’s a good thing to put reasoning skills and rationales in the minds of our children as we go along, but there’s a lot to be said for the unquestioning respect of authority. I remember my mother putting it this way, “Obey first and ask questions later.” That advice is sound if the command is to get out of the middle of the street, buckle your seat belt, or stop talking during services. Perhaps retrospectively asking why is even a great learning experience. But, in the moment of decision, children must obey without questioning the reason. (That’s the reason, by the way, that counting to our children to give them “extra chances” to obey is not a wise idea. Often there is just no time for counting and you want your children to be conditioned to obey immediately every time.)
So it is with the commands of our God. Asking why baptism is commanded for salvation or why singing is the prescribed music form in worship or why we must withdraw fellowship in cases of blatant sin in the body is a child-like form of resistance to the ultimate Authority and it is not representative of a heart that has truly submitted to God, even when that heart and life may appear to be sacrificial and pious to men. “Behold to OBEY is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams” (I Samuel 15:22—another passage that I heard from my mother about a bajillion times whenever I made excuses for disobedience).
But, on the other hand, I can ask why. If I truly want to find and fully take advantage of the heavenly purpose for situations, trials and sorrows in my sojourn on this planet, asking why is a very spiritually healthy thing to do. See, I really mean one of two things when I ask God why I lost this job? I mean “God, I am disappointed that you didn’t bless me as I thought you should and I am not happy with the way this is turning out!” or I mean “God, this circumstance is uncomfortable and I do not yet know what you are teaching me through it, but I want you to use this loss to fit me for heaven. Father, truly teach me why.” There is a vast difference between the two ‘whys”. When I become impatient with God, It usually comes out “Why is this happening to me? Why couldn’t it be someone else?” When I truly want to know his will and purpose in events and circumstances, the question is “Why NOT me? Let me be the one who learns and grows even from the difficult turns of events in this short life on earth. Whatever the pain, whatever the loss, whatever the burden, whatever the cross…if there is a straight shot to faith and heaven (or even a crooked and narrow one) through the trial, then ‘it is well with my soul.’”
Asking why is for the spiritually immature. But asking why is for the spiritually mature. Asking why either challenges God or it challenges me. It all depends on what I mean when I ask God “Why?”. Today, may I ask the “why” that helps me see heaven through the eye of faith.