As humans we can’t help but ask that burning question when things go dreadfully wrong, when death comes knocking at our door, or diagnosis corners us in a fearful paralysis.
I was working out with a friend last week who felt overwhelmed by several premature deaths in his social circles. He was looking to me, the pastor, and asking the “why” question. Why is this happening? Why didn’t God do anything to save these friends? Doesn’t God love us and hear our prayers?
Those are moments when all the learning at seminary and years of church ministry don’t help you know the answers to those “why” questions.
As I have pondered those questions, I was reminded of this little verse in Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 29:29 (NIV) 29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
There are things that God chooses not to reveal to us, and this can be difficult to accept. Some of our “why” questions will only be answered in heaven when we have a different perspective on life. This is probably the graciousness of God not to give us information that would harm us or overwhelm our finite minds.
It would be a little bit like sharing your financial struggles with your four year old. More information might make their little minds reel in fear and cause worry. Their heart isn’t ready for the whole picture of what’s happening around them. Our hearts are the same way. We aren’t ready for the full picture of what’s happening in this life – on this side of heaven.
Like four year old children, we can pout and demand answers, want our way, and look for a magic wand to make hard situations disappear.
When you hear others asking the “why” questions, how can you help?
One way you might encourage others in these times is to pray with the person who is seeking the answers. When we pray for others out loud, it encourages others to see God for who He really is. As we pray for grace, peace, healing and perspective, God begins to quiet the heart that is stirred up. Prayers that come from a heart of faith and love bring a steadiness that is helpful. Praying with others is one of the best ways that we can share the hope and faith we have. When I pray with you, it is as if I am offering my faith for you to borrow and use. Especially in times where your faith is low and your heart is broken, you need to borrow the faith and hope of others.
Who do you know that is asking the “why” questions right now that you can pray for? You can pray for them over the phone, or in person. Your follow up to continue encouraging them might be emails or text messages that are short prayers you are praying for the other person.
Some of you are still learning to pray out loud for other people, but I want to encourage you that even very short prayers that are prayed in love are incredibly powerful. Firecrackers are small, but they pack a big punch – prayers can be the same way.
May God bless you as you walk with others asking the “why” questions today!