Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Why?"

This morning I watched a video of missionary Steve Saint speaking from his hospital bed. Steve is now paralyzed due to injuries from an accident he suffered while testing a new vehicle meant to help missionaries travel more easily. Tragedy is not new to Steve. He is the son of Nate Saint, one of the five missionaries who were killed in Ecuador in 1956 by members of the tribe they were hoping to reach with the Gospel. In the video Steve shares that  he hasn't felt the need to ask God why. His trust in God's great compassion and care for him are enough.

Nate Saint a few days before he was killed.


Steve also spoke of his wonder when earlier in his life he heard Barbara Youderian express a similar faith. Barbara, wife of one of those missionaries killed in Ecuador, was asked in an interview "When your husband was killed and your life turned upside down . . . When you asked God 'why,' what did He say?"

Her answer, "I guess it never occurred to me to ask Him 'why'."

Elisabeth Elliott, another wife of the martyred missionaries has said, "Instead of asking God, 'Why me?' maybe we should ask 'Why not me?' The Father allowed His only Son to learn obedience through suffering, why would we expect to be treated differently than Jesus?" Elisabeth points to Hebrews 5:8, "Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered."

Here are three godly people who didn't feel compelled to ask "Why God?" when struck with tragedy and suffering. They rested in knowing the Father had them in His hand.

And then there are godly people like Job. He lost everything and wanted to hear an explanation from God. In the end, Job got answers to questions he hadn't asked. He decided to put his hand over his mouth and ask no more.

In my own life I have experienced times when I was content not to know why and times when I kept asking the questions. When I lost my second born to stillbirth, I had a great peace in the midst of great sadness. I felt very strongly that God was with me, loving me, loving my child, watching over my family and using all of this for His glory and my good. It didn't remove the pain, but there was a hope and a peace within me in spite of the loss.

However, when I experienced the pain of a husband struggling with addiction my response was very different. I pleaded, I begged, I argued, and did everything in my power to change what was beyond my control. And while I was doing all of this, I was asking again and again, "Why God? Why this? Why?"

I never heard an answer. The resounding sound from heaven was silence. I still don't know all of the answers today.

I do know that God redeems the pain. The brokenness I experienced carries value in my own life and in ministering to others.

I do know that God can totally handle my fits, my anger, my questions, and my tears. God is never afraid of my "Why?" He is big enough and strong enough to handle my weakness. I don't have make Him look good;  He is good.

I do know I had to work through the asking 'why'. The hurt still hurt. But the fighting, flaying, and flipping out was only keeping me from healing. Eventually, I had to move into the land of acceptance. This is a land of aching beauty, of trading sorrows for the joy of the Lord. Acceptance is all about surrender. I had to surrender my pain to the Father and allow Him to do His healing work. I didn't give up on God; I gave up on my demand to know why.

Asking God, "Why?" is not a sin. God is not offended or taken aback by my questions. However, He usually doesn't explain His reasons to me. And if He did, I could not comprehend the depth of the answers. It would be like trying to explain the vastness of the ocean to someone who has never been to the beach.

Watch Steve's testimony here: