Thursday, July 31, 2014
A Blog series based on not just surviving, but thriving thru the difficulties of life!
#1 – WHY ME?
This blog series comes because I have seen how pain and grief can cause great sorrow in this life. I have experienced this sort of pain and grief myself. I have been the pastor of many who have endured great sorrow in their lives. Pain and suffering are always present in this life and no matter how we try; there is NO place in this life where we can escape!
Vernon Brewer says in his book Why? Answers To Weather the Storms of Life! He said, “…the reality of life is that you are either entering a storm, going through a storm or coming out of a storm…” The point being that in the broken world in which we live, storms are gonna happen!
Many believers mistakenly believe that because they follow Christ they will not have to face the pain, suffering or hurt of this world. However, Scripture overflows with stories of those who walked closely with God and yet experienced great suffering and tribulation. In fact, there are many stories of encouragement and recovery in Scripture for those who have experienced the pain of this broken world. The most familiar character on the subject of suffering is Job. He is a classic example of one who walked with God and in spite of his obedience and dedication to God; the storms of life still overwhelmed him.
You may be having your own ‘Job’ moment that has led you OR is leading you to a place where you feel hopeless and think all is lost. You may be asking the same question Job was asking: “Why me Lord?” You may be faithfully walking with God, yet it seems as if trouble knows your home address! We ALL face hardship in this life and in Scripture we can know that the storms of life are one of life’s realities. James writes about this very thing:
“2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”
When troubles come our way, our default response is often to ask the 'why' question. "Why? or "Why me?" However, the ‘why’ question only leads to more unanswerable questions, and IF there are any answers, they never satisfy or bring peace to our situation. In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, the people of the MS Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans were all asking, “Why? Or Why us?” This is the natural human reaction when trouble comes our way.
Hurricane Katrina, like so many other hurricanes, caused many to take notice of their lives and assess their priorities. Bruce Barton wrote these words about the ‘harsh’ storms of life: “It takes a real storm in the average person's life to make him realize how much worrying he has done over the [showers].
Many people, before Katrina, believed they had experienced hardship and difficulty. However, after Katrina those same people realized that they had NOT truly known suffering, until this storm. This is because the real storms cause us to sit up and take notice of where we are, and also to whom we can turn for safety and support. So often, we look at the short showers of life and sincerely believe our lives are overwhelmed, and we will continue to think this way until a ‘real storm’ shows up in our lives.
The fact of the matter is that Scripture tells us that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. This means that we all live in this world and the good and the bad are going to be experienced by ALL of us. When we experience trial or hardship we must understand that the question we should be asking is NOT “why” or “why me?”, but as a believer our question or outreach to God should be about who. True peace and comfort only come when the believer focuses on the reality of whose they are and not ‘why’ this has happened.
Now I completely understand that pain and suffering are difficult to bear, but in this broken world in which we live they are inevitable. I understand that no one wants to experience ANY pain in their lives, this is a totally natural reaction. However, as much as we hate to bear the pain of this life, without pain, we would never be able to fully realize the joy of true peace when it comes to our hearts. The reality is that without the harshness of suffering, the grace of God is nothing more than an empty gesture from an ancient book. The cold hard fact is that suffering is enables us to experience and appreciate the joys of this life... the joys God brings into our lives! Obviously no one wants pain in their lives, but pain is NOT without its benefits for our lives, even if we cannot see it immediately.
We often react to pain by asking 'why', however, the “why” question will never give us the answer we desire, but we DO have a God who is wise and who is constantly with us during these ‘why questions’! But the reality is the ‘why’ question, even if answered, will not bring comfort or peace.
A three year old may fall and scrape his knee, then cry and ask mommy ‘why did this happen?’ Now, mommy can tell him that the center of gravity for his upper torso had shifted & that caused his body to be overbalanced & unable to adjust, so he fell. This does answer the child’s ‘why’ question, but does it help or comfort the child? The reality is that knowing ‘why’ really does not help us in our pain.
So if the ‘why’ does not help us then what does help? Peace and comfort comes from knowing ‘who’ is with us during those difficult times! In the illustration I used, we all know that mom is NOT going to waste her time explaining why the child fell and scraped his knee, but instead she is going to take the child in her arms & love on him. I believe it is important to note that even before addressing the child’s injury, the child will know the love of their mother.
There are times we, as believers, want to know why, but will not bring peace or comfort. Instead of asking, ‘why’ we need to realize to whom we belong! We need to know that God is going to take us in his arms and love us, and even though we are in pain, we will KNOW that we are loved!
Pain and suffering are part of life, but the bright spot for the believer is that we serve a God who loves us and desires to bring us HIS peace & comfort. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 [ESV], “Come all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest!” Jesus does NOT promise to answer the ‘why’ questions we may have, but He does promise a comfort and peace that the world cannot give! The apostle Paul reveals that God can and does bring to the believer a peace that passes all human understanding [Phil 4:6-7]. Today if you are hurting, if you are experiencing a ‘Job’ moment, I call on you to stop asking the ‘why’ question and begin to seek after ‘who’ is there for you! Allow God to love on you and in this difficult time of your life He will guide and direct your path and bring your comfort and peace.