Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Why Me?" - Age-Old Question with an Ancient of Days Answer

I have read "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen so many times that now I only listen to my favorite chapters on Kyle's ipod (he downloaded if for me so I would stop listening to the CDs in the CD player in the living room).  Now, this could be called an obsession, but since it is classical literature, I get to call it "being cultured".  And every time I read it or watch a movie version of the story, I am always baffled by how many times Lizzy is proposed to by men she doesn't want, and yet poor Jane and Charlotte wait and wait... and Charlotte just settles for one of Lizzie's rejections.  If I were Jane or Charlotte, when Lizzy would complain about being proposed to by men she can't stand, I know I would be tempted to think "At least someone wants you - why doesn't someone want me?"

It always makes me think of how some have so much of what someone else pines for... doesn't the world seem so imbalanced at times?  Why do some have several children while others can't conceive?  Why are some so lazy and wealthy while some work so hard to still be poor?  Why do some of my students get so spoiled rotten by their parents, while others get horribly neglected?  Why does the girl who wants to get married and have babies watch all her friends marry before she does?  That was my story, for sure, and I always asked "Why me?"

A little over a year ago, my father was in an accident while cutting down a dead tree.  As he was cutting, the tree twisted and started to fall, although he couldn't see in what direction.  He dropped his chainsaw and ran, unfortunately in the direction the tree fell.  It struck him from behind, and he landed on his face on the ground.  He suffered brain bleeding and swelling and so many fractures to his skull that they couldn't be counted...  And yet, my father is alive and well today.  You'd never know by meeting him that he had been through something so severe.

I can't tell you how many stories I have heard since from people who have had friends or family go through similar experiences with a much different outcome.  My mother recently spent time with a friend who lost her husband in a falling-tree accident, and how strange for two women to experience the same thing, yet one has her husband tonight while another does not.

When my mother told me about the pain her friend is going through, in my mind I tried to picture both women as they sat side-by-side and thought that either one could easily ask "Why me?"

Why does one lose a husband while the other only lost some sick days at work while her husband healed?

"Why me?" is a question that has been asked, I'm sure, as long as time on earth has been enjoyed or merely survived...

"Why am I the one who suffers?"

"Why am I the one who is blessed?"

And unfortunately, I rarely ask the second version of the question.  I am too vain, selfish, and jealous.  I envy others with things I want, things I may even think I need... I ask "Why me?"

Wouldn't it be just as easy for God to sell my house as He has for so many others I know?  Wouldn't it be just as easy for Him to drop a part-time job in my lap like He has done before?

But I'm sure there is someone, somewhere... and probably not as far away as I think that would look at my life and think, "Where is my loving husband?", "Why can't I get pregnant so easily?", "Why is my father dead, while hers is completely recovered?"...

"Why me?"

When one sister comes back from the hospital with ultrasound pictures of her first child while another sister is admitted into the hospital for another miscarriage... both could easily ask "Why me?"

"Why am I so blessed?"

"Why am I in so much pain?"

When one person must learn how to be content while another gets everything she desired.

When one child easily makes an A every time while the other struggles just to read and understand directions.

When a young man strikes it rich with an invention while another man is laid off after working at the same company for 27 years.

"Why me?"

I can't pretend to understand any of this either.  Even in scripture in places where it says, "God makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust."

What?!  Why does God allow wicked and unjust people to enjoy sunshine?  Why do their crops also get rain?  Why don't they get the tornadoes while the good enjoy good weather and years of plenty?

The answer is so simple, but not easily understood.  Because in order to understand the answer, we have to understand God in His fullness... which we never could - at least not here on earth... but here is my attempt at understanding Him enough myself in order to explain Him... yeah, right.  Here it goes...

God is good.  Not just sometimes, but always.  And not just the kind of good that we settle for when describing ourselves.  God isn't good only when he compares Himself to others, although He is, but He also is the very definition, the essence, of true, pure goodness.  And He is always constant in His goodness, not just when He "feels like being or doing good".

God is also wise.  Not just a shallow wisdom, like you or I may have.  It isn't because He has experienced something and learned from it... He always knew and displayed wisdom.  And He still does.  He knows everything.  Not just like the stats or data of everything, but he KNOWS the depths, the everything about everything.  He understands everything He knows about.  He knows about everything unknown to anyone else.

God is also in control.  Now, this is probably the hardest part to be okay with as humans.  Yes, God has plans.  The Bible says that the plans are for our good AND for His glory.  And all of His plans get carried out.  Remember He is also good and wise, while He is also in control...  This also means that He can be in control without being controlling.

Now, I'm not sure that is easily explained, but it definitely is easily appreciated.  While He is powerful and sovereign so much that "in Him all things hold together", He is good and loving to allow us to make choices and be responsible for our lives... instead of being robots.

And SO many things in this world are a result of sin.  We live in a fallen world.  "Fallen" in the sense that it is not as it once was or was intended to be.  Sin has tainted so much of our world that it is impossible to imagine what the Garden of Eden must have really been like.  My instant reaction to hearing God is in control is, "If God is in control, why do people still sin?  Why do people still hurt?  Why do bad things still happen?"  And the simple answer is "sin".  Through sin, death and pain entered the world.  And it remains.  So does sin.

But it won't always remain.  There is an ultimate end for sin and death, and it is found in this great God.

And not everything is a direct result of our own sin.  Just as God allows the sun to shine on the wicked, the "good" suffer common hardships with the wicked.  If my father lives, it isn't because I have sinned less than someone else.  And if someone's father dies, it doesn't mean they have sinned more than me.

Because God is merciful and gracious.  While there is consequence of our sin overall - like eternity separated from Him in Hell, there isn't a one-to-one ratio for every wrong we do.  In fact, if I think of all the wrongs I have caused and compare that to how many wrongs I have suffered... I realize how incredibly blessed I am.  I realized how much more suffering I deserve.

And that isn't all... that is just scratching the surface of what He is and who He is... I could dig and chisel and shovel for the rest of my life at how awesome He is, and I'll never comprehend all of Him.

But the more I find out who He is, the more I realize I want to be more like Him and less like me.  I learn how good He has been to me, and He completely changes my perspective on things.

I know how much of a victim I am NOT when I see all that He has done for me.  When I look at others who have what I want, and even think I need, and want to say "Why me?", I am challenged to look at those who don't have what I do and think "Why me?" again.

Why would He forgive me?  Save me?  Heal me?  Restore my father's health?  Give me a loving husband?  Allow me to get pregnant so easily - twice?  Feed me?  Clothe me?  Warm my winter with sunshine?  Cool my summer with rain?  Love me?  Sing over me?  Give me rest?  Peace?  Comfort?  Strength?

And not just for today, but hope for tomorrow?

"Not because of who I am, but because of what You've done.
Not because of what I've done, but because of who You are." - Casting Crowns

He has been good to me because He wants to be good to us.  And His goodness makes me want to tell others about Him.  His kindness makes me want to be kind.  And sometimes we can only know what goodness is when we have first seen what evil or sorrow is.  Sometimes I am so stubborn that I will not see His love until I have felt the hate of an enemy.  And how many lessons have I learned the hard way that wouldn't have been learned the easy one?  How could miracles happen, if there was never a need for one?

And an enemy I want to fight off for good is my flesh that cries out "Why me?" in self-pity or pain but never thinks to cry out "Why me?" when He lavishes on me so much good that I don't deserve.

I don't understand it all, probably not even most of it, but I am thankful to Him.  That I do know.  I don't have all of the answers, and sometimes I ask Him all the wrong questions!

"Why me?" is something I may never know.  And in light of who He is, "Why me?" matters less and less...

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