“Why?” is the wrong question to ask when things go wrong. Let me share with you three reasons why you don’t want to ask “why?” when your world collapses.
- Having an answer doesn’t relieve the pain. We ask the question “why?” because we wrongly assume that if we can find the answer, it will somehow ease the pain, but this isn’t true at all.
- When we try to answer the question “Why?” we often get it wrong. In the Old Testament, Job’s friends tried to answer the question “Why?” and they got it wrong. They said to him in Job 4:7-9, “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish.” In other words: They concluded that Job’s suffering was the result of his sin. But they were wrong! As we already learned in Job 1:1, Job was an upright and blameless man. In the New Testament, Jesus’ disciples tried to answer the question “Why?” and they got it wrong too. In John 9:1-3 we read, “As he [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” They got it wrong, just like Job’s friends got it wrong! Both Job’s friends and Jesus’ disciples thought that suffering was the result of someone getting what they deserved but they were both wrong. Friends…God, in his grace, doesn’t always deal with us as our sins deserve. In fact, Psalm 103:10 says, “[God] does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” So we have to be careful in trying to answer the question “Why?”, because as the Bible shows us, the conclusions we come to when trying to answer the question “why?” are usually wrong.
- The Bible states plainly that on this side of eternity we won’t always get an answer. The Bible is clear that we won’t always understand WHY on this side of eternity. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now [here on earth] we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then [when we get to heaven] we shall see face to face. Now [here on earth] I know in part; then [when I get to heaven] I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Paul teaches there are some things we will only fully understand once we get to heaven.
We just have to accept that there will always be a certain level of mystery to our suffering here on earth. For example, in Acts 12 Herod arrests James, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, puts him in prison and he is put to death with the sword. After seeing how this pleased the Jews Herod arrests Peter, another of Jesus’ 12 apostles and intends to do the same to him. While God allowed James to die, God sends an angel to go rescue Peter. What’s up with that? Why did Peter get saved from harm but not James? I don’t know. Why did God spare Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3) and then Daniel from the lions den (Daniel 6) but not the Jews from the Holocaust or Dr. King Jr from assassination? I don’t know. THEN I shall now fully. But not NOW.
So we see that “Why?” is the wrong question to be asking because knowing the answer doesn’t relieve the pain, we usually arrive at the wrong conclusion and the Bible tells us that in some instances we’re just never going to know this side of eternity.