Wednesdays with Jillene: when you can’t see the why

“But… why?”

Oh, how many, many, many, many times in life do we ask, “Why?”

It think it is intrinsic to who we are as human beings to want to know why. Did you ever notice, that for all the times we seek the answer to that ever present questions, there are way too many times the answer isn’t given?

As a mom, I hear the why questions asked, almost ad nauseam. While there are a myriad of reasons for the zillions of “why” questions, you know, there are many times that the answer is simply: because.

because that is what has to be right now.

I’m smiling as I typed that, shook my head a little bit too. Nope, not because I take some sick mom pleasure in frustrating my kids with that answer. Instead, in recognition of how sufficient that non-sufficient answer really is… because.

Asking “Why?” doesn’t end with childhood. In fact, I know many of you have been asking, “Why?” a lot lately. All right my friends… let’s get real, this is a time I am writing a post because I know some of you are facing some really big stuff.  And, for all the ways you’re looking at the situation, no matter how you turn it around… you can’t see the why.

I know what that’s like, I’ve been there too. I’ve faced some big stuff in life. I’ve sat with tears pouring down my face, throat raw from crying, head pounding from the unrelenting, overwhelming, inability to make sense of it all.

And I’ve asked, “Why?”

With no answer in return.

I’m not talking here about one of those times when I was disappointed because my favorite mug broke and I cried out in great disappointment, “Why? Why did that have to happen? Why can’t I have nice things?” I’m talking just talking about those awful times when I stub my toe, break one of those tiny nails and having it bleed while I fuss, “Why? Why didn’t the kids pick up those stupid toys that always get in my way making me trip?”

Those aren’t fun times, for sure, no doubt. But, there is a whole other level of awful that we face. Unavoidable, unrelenting, unending struggles that we desperately want to know the why.

“Why God? Why am I going through this? God, what are you trying to teach me? Did I do something wrong? God, show me how I need to grow? God, why?”

and sometimes no answer comes

I didn’t like typing that. I want to pull this whole thing together in a nice pretty package with healing words that makes everything all right. I want to have insight that give purpose to your pain or meaning to your struggle.

‘Cause I know how desperately you want to know why.

Yesterday, (goodness, ya know, there are a so many of you friends who are hurting) God brought this scripture to mind from John 9.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Oh the why question in this passage… did you see it? It didn’t have the word “why” but it was a BIG why question.

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Why… why was this man born blind? Who was at fault for this awful situation.

Here’s a thing worth noting, this was a man, not an infant, not a boy, not a tween… later in the passage, his parents are clear, “He is of age; he will speak for himself.” This was an adult. I can only imagine what it was like for them as parents and for him to live his whole life blind.

I’m guessing a whole lot of why questions come up. From his parents as they grappled, as parents do when facing something like this, “Why did this happen? Is this our fault? Did we cause this?” From within himself, “God, why did I have to be blind? What if I’m good enough, holy enough, pray hard enough… will you take this away? Why am I suffering so?” From their community, “Why was this child born blind? Who’s sin is responsible for this birth defect?”

And here we find them years later, still with the why question.

Jesus answer cuts to my heart, sends chills down my spine:

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Friends, for years this man, his parents lived without the why. I wondered what it was like to finally hear the why? What must it have been like to finally have a purpose for the suffering, reason for the trial? What must it have been like to have the power of God displayed right there, miraculously in the area of his life of great shame, weakness and purposelessness?!

The thing that gets me though, right to the heart here, is that Jesus said: neither. He said that this happened so the works of God might be displayed in him. It wasn’t the blind man’s fault, not his parent’s, not the result of sin, not something that deep devotion could fix… no… this happened so that the works of God might be displayed.

Oh friends, as much as we want a why to the hard times we face… as much as we want to know how to make it better or what it was supposed to teach us or how the bad things will help us trust God more… sometimes we need to know the events/circumstances of life are for the glory of God, for His work to be revealed.

What situations are you facing where you can’t see the why? How does it change the struggles you are facing today, to stop looking for the why in all the wrong places? What if, when no why can be found, you turn your focus to the glory and power of God at work?

How can I pray for you today?


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