I am told that when life just doesn’t make sense at all it’s okay to ask God, “Why?” When maybe a single phone call, lab results, a fire, or a funeral, leave you suddenly questioning who is God, really, and if He’s truly good and concerned about what’s going on down here or if He’s just hanging out with the angels playing Settlers of Catan and watching Downton Abbey.
There are a few things that I know to be true but they don’t necessarily help: I know God can handle our questioning – people love to remind me of that. I also know that I don’t necessarily need an answer to the “Why?” in order to find peace and joy. And I know that God will meet us where we’re at, which, sometimes, is in the middle of the unknown. Those statements are all true, but presently feel so cliché and have not been all that comforting lately. But I’ve also learned something in this season of asking a whole lot of “Why?” questions: when I come up with some Wiser Why’s, I just feel better. That’s it. Asking a different, wiser set of “Why’s?” just seems to be carrying me these days – better than any cliché reminders.
- When I want to ask of God: Why am I only 47 and have to start thinking about death because of this stupid lung disease? My wiser Why is this: Why is it that I have been given a disease that gives me years to live instead of one that gives me only weeks or months?
- Why did my sweet friend Jill have to die at 44 yrs. old, in the prime of her life, leaving behind a loving husband and 4 amazing kids? My wiser why is this: Why, Oh God, why, would you give insignificant little me the gift of 15 years of a beautiful friendship with someone as spectacularly special as Jill?
- Why is it so freaking cold in Michigan? I should be asking: Why is it that we have a heated home and yet I know full well just 20 minutes up the road there are people who have no home at all?
- Why is every stinkin’ day a blizzardy-day in Michigan this year? I could be asking: Why did God choose to make snow white? He could have chosen to make it black, you know.
- Why does it feel like this winter will never end? A better Why would be: Why, out of all the ugly- brown-70’s-ranch houses in West Michigan, did we choose this particular ugly brown house for our down-size - which just so happens to have a miracle bush by the front door which just so happens to attract chirping birds ALL WINTER LONG providing us with the sounds of Spring - ALL WINTER LONG?
- Why can’t we take a trip to Hawaii like my sister? A much wiser Why would be: Why don’t I run to the bathroom, stick my head in the toilet and give myself a swirly? We like to tell our kids: ask a junior-high question and you’ll get a junior-high answer.
- Why do some people do and say hurtful things yet seem oblivious to the hurt they leave in their wake? A wiser Why would be: Why am I so stuck on the hurt that has been done to me instead of looking to where I may have been the hurt-er?
- Why can’t my husband or children ever replace the empty toilet roll with a new one? A wiser why would be: Why, Lord, did you choose to give me a husband who loves me and four (fairly normal) children? Why do some people pray for those things forever yet not receive them?
- Why can’t I lose 20 pounds and have a figure like my co-worker Hillary? A much wiser why would be: Why is it that I have never known true hunger?
- Why can some people eat like crap, smoke cigarettes, and drink their liver silly yet still live into their late 90’s – but even though I DIDN’T live like that, I might get robbed of a few decades? Perhaps a wiser Why would be: Why is Josiah so ridiculously funny that we can sit around the dinner table and laugh with (at) him for hours – helping us to realize we can know bliss without the aid of substances?
- Why did my cousin Zac, who was more like a nephew and one of Andy’s best friends, have to die last summer at the age of 23 in a tragic, senseless car accident? My wiser why is this: Why, heavenly Father, did you pick bright eyed 5-yr.-old Anand out of all the millions of homeless and orphaned children in India, to be adopted by his family, to be brought home to America, to be renamed Zac, to touch and bless the lives of all who knew him, and to teach us all a little more about passion, love, and zest for life? And this one: Why, oh why, was he ALWAYS smiling?
- Why do you allow pain and suffering, Almighty God, when I know darn well you could stop it all if you wanted to? A wiser Why is this: Why did it take me getting a diagnosis of a potentially terminal illness to stop the crazy-cycle life I was living and slow down enough to notice people, to notice need, to notice beauty, to notice quiet, and to notice God?