It’s one of those questions that keeps my mind turning over and over in the dead of night when everyone else is blissfully asleep. It has kept me awake many a night, tossing and turning in this psychological wrestling match. When all I want is to rest peacefully, there is no peace because of this one simple question.
Why was I abused? Why was I given the parents I had? Why did my marriage fail? Why did she have to die? Why have I experienced so much loss in such a short time? Why did this happen now? Why can’t I catch a break? Why couldn’t he recover from that addiction? Why this diagnosis? Why do I feel so alone? Why wouldn’t he just change? Why did he stop loving me? Why do I look like this? Why do I have this illness?
Why does everything have to be so hard?
The problem with why is that it holds no power to change reality. It holds no power to change my experience in life. Of what use is it to me? Why does not heal. It keeps us spinning in circles trying to find someone to blame. It’s the question behind bitter root judgments and assumptions like the one found in John 9:1-2:
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?”
That was really just a why in disguise.
This question, which frequently has no ready answer, has wrought havoc for me even in times of abundance. I could not seem to escape its destructive paralysis, even when things were bright and good.
Why would God choose me? Why would He go through all He has been through in order to restore someone who spit in his face like I did? Why have I been given something so undeserved? Why would He ever love me so much? Why did He restore me to a position of honor? Salvation is enough; why would He allow me the joy of vocational ministry? Why would He trade my ugly, dark, dreadful sin-sick life for the life that I have now? These questions cannot help me become the person God is calling me to be. In fact, they accomplish exactly the opposite.
Why keeps me from walking into my identity in Christ, because I am still arguing with God about his choices to lavish his love on me rather than allowing that love to soak into my being.
Why keeps me from being who God created me to be, because I am constantly afraid that none of it was real. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I am afraid I really am not worthy. I continue to hold on to the lies I have been told and believed all my life—that I am worthless and will never amount to anything. I keep believing that my life will always be a shambles and that any time of joy will be short-lived and fruitless. But, these are all lies designed by the enemy of my soul to keep me from being effective—to keep me from becoming the woman God created me to be.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why the bad things happened. They still happened, and I still have to deal in terms of reality. And, at the end of the day, I am not going to be able to understand why God chose to lavish his love on me.
That’s because I’m trying to figure out why I deserve it when the truth is, I don’t. I can’t earn grace, because by its very definition, grace is unmerited favor.
This is why I ditched why. I still slip up sometimes, but the Holy Spirit is faithful to remind me when I’m asking that dreadful question again. I don’t want to be stuck there again.
I invite you, friends, to ditch the why. Ditching the why will give you the freedom needed to stand in the outpouring of God’s grace and love and to soak it all in, even in the presence of suffering and pain. It will allow you to accept your personal reality as it is, give you the clarity to solve problems and make changes that will move you toward where you want to be, and give you the freedom to operate from the higher truth of whose you are and who you are, regardless of your broken places.
Because the great thing about grace is that it doesn’t extend only to the sins we have committed. It also extends to the sins others have committed against us as well as the brokenness in us that has happened as a result of this fallen world. We can receive grace and healing from the things we have done, but we can also be healed of the things that were not our fault.
Then, in time, you will find your broken places are being healed by the love none of us deserved but is freely available.
Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord
Julia H. Johnston (1911)
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
what can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
whiter than snow you may be today.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe;
you that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.