When I was little, all I wanted to do was grow up. As my older siblings were off ‘being cool,’ it was my Barbies and my best friend, Crystal, who most often kept me company.
Our Barbies lived the ideal life. They had jobs, spouses, families. Most importantly, they had cars and visited their friends all the time.
It’s been 9 years since I picked up a Barbie Doll. Since then I’ve successfully acquired a full-time position, an apartment, and a relationship. I don’t yet have a car, but I do get to see my friends all the time. Growing up is brilliant! Just how I imagined!
But there is one aspect of growing up no warned me about.
I’ve known Crystal since first grade. We’ve been through everything together. We have an unexplainable spiritual connection, and even though I haven’t lived near her for the past three years, I still feel like a part of her family.
Just a couple weeks ago, at the ripe old age of 48, Crystal’s father passed away. Complications in heart surgery.
I was sent home from work early that day, a complete emotional wreck. I knew what was coming and refused to believe it. And I didn’t believe it until I got the text:
My heart sank. I locked myself in my room and fell apart.
Gone? That’s ridiculous. Surreal.
I wanted to punch a wall.
“But I was praying,” I screamed. “I was interceding like you asked me to, God! How can you just take him away like that? Why!?”
Who would welcome Crystal home from her trip? Who would walk her down the aisle on her wedding day? Who would hold her at night as she falls to pieces, consumed with memories of her father’s death?
Predictions of a bleak future slammed into me from all sides, knocking me off my feet. I couldn’t do this. Crystal couldn’t do this. Every time Satan knocked me down, God knelt beside me. He smiled and offered his hand.
Of course I wasn’t mad at Him. I knew He loved me. He loved Crystal. He loved her dad. I took His hand and He pulled me to my feet yet again. My knees shook as I looked into God’s eyes.
I asked again, “why would you ask her to go through so much?”
“Don’t ask ‘why,’” he replied. “Ask ‘who.’”
There are plenty of great things about growing up. You get to see life from a different perspective. You get to witness futures joined and fulfilled. You get to peer into the mysteries God created back before the earth was even around! But there is a caveat.
All of the joy also comes with pain.
We are mortal and we are sinful, existing in a broken world. The longer we live, the more chances we will have to experience that pain and brokenness.
And God allows us to live through it. After all, only the trials of hardship can truly teach us to rely on God for who He is rather than what He does.
Did Job have a good explanation for anything Satan threw at him? He had lost everything—his possessions, his family, his own health—and begged to know why.
How did God answer?
“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” (Job 38: 1-3)
Then He proceeded to grill Job for four chapters, never answering Job’s question, but proving who He is. This brought Job to his knees.
“’You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.’
After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’” (Job 42: 4-7)
So often we ask God to justify our circumstances. “Why do you allow me to live through this? Why didn’t you change things?” But what’s the point? Do you really think you can comprehend the plans of an omnipotent God?
Fortunately, the Lord is merciful. He knows we will have questions. We’re human. Yes, he allows us to live through stressful, painful times. But never because He wants to punish us. He wants to redeem us.
God may never tell us “why.” We might not accept it if he did. God isn’t interested in explaining himself because the explanation doesn’t matter. What matters is that we offer our hearts to Him, allowing him to heal and redeem us through our brokenness.
Don’t ask for the “why.” Worship the “who.”