"But Why?" - April 2012
There is one question that is common to mankind and knows no boundaries. It has been asked for thousands of years. It is asked by the rich and the poor; the young and the old. Kings and servants have asked it. The educated and uneducated seek its answer. It has been asked by every nationality on the planet. It is a question that is asked numerous times by each individual during their lifetime. And it will continue to be asked as long as the earth exist and people are living. “What is this question?”, you ask. It is summed up in one small word--- “why?”
Since the beginning of time the answer to this one word question has often eluded us. It is the age-old question behind our problems. “Why did that have to happen? Why am I going through this?” It is the question behind the mysteries of the universe. “Why does this exist? Why am I here?” We have all asked such questions as, “Why did he have to die? Why can’t I seem to get ahead in life? Why am I always in trouble? Why doesn’t anyone care? Why are there wars and evil in the world? Why was I born? Why doesn’t she love me?” And the endless question “why?” goes on.
Let’s talk about the answer behind the question, “Why?” I want to talk about a few areas where the answer to the question why is concerned.
1) Sometimes the answer to our question comes right away. We don’t have to keep seeking it. We understand why almost immediately. Then there are times when we discover the answer but not as quickly as we desire-- like Joseph. I am sure he asked the question why on numerous occasions. I am sure he wondered why his brothers hated him so; why they threw him in the pit and sold him into slavery; why was he thrown into prison when he did the right thing in resisting Potiphar’s wife. Joseph didn’t understand why at first, but the answer came years later. “And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4-8)
2) Though desire as we may for the answer to some of our “whys”, the plain fact- which is often the hardest one for us to except- is, there are some whys that we will never have the answer to. To some things there is no reason that we can give. Our human reasoning and logic cannot figure some things out or have all the answers to every question. At this point, we just have to leave it at that. I remember a conversation that I had with an elderly man in my church quiet a number of years ago. (He has gone on to be with the Lord since.) We were talking about a situation that had happened and neither of us knew the answer why. I made the comment to him that when we get to heaven we can ask the Lord about it. His reply to me was, “When we get to heaven, will it really even matter then?” Perhaps not. Or perhaps some questions will not be answered until we get there. At any rate, the questions that have no answers for us here, should just be committed to the Lord and placed in His infinite wisdom that withholds the answer from us. I would encourage you though, that to those questions we should just pray that the Lord will give us peace about not having an answer, and grace to accept the fact that we don’t know.
3) There are some questions “why” that only the Lord can answer. We have discovered that in His wisdom there are times He withholds the answer from us and we just have to trust Him regardless. But then there are times when He gives us the answer. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3) But even when He gives the answer, we often continue to ask “why?” Little children are famous for this. They have a thousand whys in their vocabulary. As parents we try to answer their questions- at least to the best of our ability. But have you ever answered that inquisitive “why” only to have them ask another question-- “but why?” It seems to be endless! The answer you gave them was not good enough. They want more explanation. We often do the same thing with our Heavenly Father. He will give us an answer, but it is not the one we wanted to hear so we ask again, and again, and again. Sometimes His answer is no, yes or wait. Sometimes He will ask a question with a question. Sometimes His answer explains the situation, but that answer may not be something we understand. Even when it isn’t what we understand, or what we want to hear, or what we think it should be, we have to remember that we can’t lean to our own understanding about anything. His ways are so much higher than our ways. His thoughts are above our thoughts. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8,9) Whether you understand, agree with or disagree with the answer He gives you, keep in mind that He is working all things together for our good and He has a plan that He is fulfilling- a plan to prosper us and not to harm us, a plan to give us a hope and a future. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11- NIV)
4) Another answer to the question why is more individualized. Why has a certain thing happened in my life? Why was this allowed to come upon me? Let me preface what I am about to say with this, this answer is not always the reason behind the why but in many cases it is (this was not the case with Job). The Bible clearly tells us that we reap what we sow. This is a principal that works in both the spiritual and natural realms. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) We have just planted a small garden. I planted beet seeds. From those seeds I will not get squash. They are beet seeds and will produce beets. Corn seeds produce corn, peas produce peas, oranges produce oranges, etc. It is a natural law that is unchanging. This is also a spiritual law that is unchanging as well. What you sow you will reap. If you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7) “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:8) Whatever you sow, good or bad, will reap a harvest in your life that is either good or bad. The answer to some of these whys that happen in our lives is because we are reaping the consequences of what we have sown. Why did I get a traffic ticket? You broke the law by running a red light. Why don’t I have any money left out of my paycheck to pay the bills? Because you spent it all at the casino. Why am I spiritually weak in my walk with the Lord? If you aren’t reading the Bible and praying, you will be weak. Sometimes we will discover the answer if we will just take an honest look at what we are doing (sowing). If you are sowing unkindness, hate, jealousy, bitterness, selfishness or unforgiveness, guess what you are going to get in return.
As we said, reaping and sowing is a natural and spiritual principal. It is also a natural and spiritual law. There are natural laws that govern the universe. For example, there is a law of gravity-- what goes up, must come down. If you jump off the top of a building, you will go in the direction of down. There are laws of nature, laws of man and laws of God that have been set in place, if break any one of them you will suffer the consequences. That answers many of the whys we ask.
When we make bad choices, we reap the consequences of those choices. Our choices effect what happens in our lives. Hanging around with the wrong kind of company leads to bad morals. “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33- NIV) Choosing sexual immorality can reap the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy or a disease in your body. Making the choice to cheat on your spouse can bring divorce into your marriage. Choosing to play hooky from work can cost you your job. If we choose to eat unhealthy foods we suffer the consequences of sickness and disease in our bodies. Ask King David about the consequences of making the wrong choices. (Read 2 Samuel 11) David made one bad choice after another. He was the king and should have been on the battlefield but he stayed at home. He saw a woman on the rooftop bathing and instead of turning around and going back inside, he watched and then had someone go get her and bring her to him. Then he made the choice to have an adulterous affair with her- a married woman. She got pregnant so David devised a plan to cover up what he had done. He had her husband, Uriah, called in from the battle in hopes that he would sleep with his wife and think that the baby was his. Uriah would not go home and sleep with his wife. “And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.” (verse 11) So David devised another plot to hide his sin. He thought if he got Uriah drunk he would go home and sleep with his wife. “And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.” (verse 13) That plan did not work either. Finally David had Uriah sent back to the battlefield and commanded that he be placed in front where he would surely be killed; and he was. “And thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” (verse 24b) Of course, this is not the end of the story. “And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (verses 26,27) God was aware of what David had done so He sent Nathan the prophet to David with a message. “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” (2 Samuel 13:9-14) Why did the baby die? Why did David’s son rape his daughter? Why did Absalom kill his brother? Why was there so much turmoil and murder in David’s household? It was the consequences of the choices that David had made.
As I said earlier sometimes things happen to us and we haven’t sown those “seeds”. Not everyone who suffers has sown something bad to cause it. There is a question that most people have asked. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The answer to this question goes back to “choice and consequence”. For every action there is a reaction. The answer to this why takes us all the way back to the Garden of Eden. “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 2:7,15-17;3:6, 9-19)
God had made a perfect world in the beginning but when Adam disobeyed God sin came into the world. So sin is at the root of all the problems. Sin brought a curse upon the earth. It brought death, sickness, disease, murder, hatred, prejudice, rebellion, unforgiveness, etc. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12) For every action there is a reaction. Adam’s action-- disobedience; reaction-- sin came into the world. Mankind is under the curse of sin. The earth is under the curse of sin. Therefore, some of the things that happen to us are a result of living in a “cursed”/”sinful” world. The bad things that happen to me are not always the result of something I did wrong. It is because there is the presence of sin. The Bible says that it rains on the just and the unjust. “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) In other words, good and bad comes to all people. It is just part of life. Jesus told us that while we were living in this world we would have tribulations. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
There is also a very real enemy who walks the earth-- the devil. He is seeking whom he may devour. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) His main purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. He is out to destroy each of us. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
So the answer to some of our why questions is simply this-- we live on this earth. Therefore, my tires are going to wear out. My appliances aren’t going to last forever. I will not always be young and strong. Evil men are going to be plotting against the just. Storms are going to form under certain atmospheric conditions. Winter is going to be cold and summer is going to be hot. When a child falls, it will scrap its knee. When you touch fire, it will burn you. It doesn’t mean that you have always done something wrong. It doesn’t mean that the devil is always behind it trying to destroy you. It is just part of the reaction that came as a result of Adam’s action.
While we are on the subject of the question why and some of its answers, I want to also briefly address one more thing.-- it is all right to ask God why. I know we have already addressed this to some degree. But I want to clarify that it is all right. We have been taught that we aren’t to question the Lord. That is not true. Now, of course, when we do we are to do it with respect and reverence remembering who we are addressing with our questions. All throughout the Bible we find men and women questioning the Lord. Moses, Joshua, Paul, John the Baptist, King David, Abraham, Mary the mother of Jesus, and our beloved Jesus Himself in the garden asked if it were possible to let the cup pass from Him, and many, many others. If it were not all right for us to ask Him, He never would have given us the privilege of communication with Him. He never would have told us in His word to ask. “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” (Isaiah 45:11) “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7)
“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13,14) The Lord knows who we are. He remembers that we are made from dust. He knows we don’t know everything and He knows that we feel the need to know-- who, what, when, where and why. So in His love and wisdom He will tell us what we need to know and withhold that knowledge from us when we don’t need to know. The bottom line where our questions are concerned is that we trust the Lord at all times--- when He gives us the answer and when He doesn’t.