We are talking about the process of embracing our trials. In part one we discussed the “poem challenge”.
Here in part two we consider the “why” question.
Understanding the “WHY” Question – “Embracing ‘Why’ I Am Going Through This”
“God never wastes the sufferings of His saints.”—Warren Wiersbe
Is this statement true? Or could there be times when we go through unnecessary suffering? Is it possible that God could overdue my pain and suffering? Are there times when God steps back and just allows our times of suffering to go too far or for too long? How would you answer these questions? As read each question, do you feel a growing sense of uneasiness asking, “Could God actual fail at something or do something wrong?” Maybe these questions echo those you have already heard yourself asking.
The battlefield of the mind is filled with pathways of thought upon which we have repeatedly walked. These are often debilitating thoughts, tempting us to doubt God’s love and goodness promoting defeat instead of leading us to victory. Far too often, in trials, we find ourselves asking the unproductive question “Why?” instead of the questions that lead us upward to victory.
“Why me?” The question often asked, when confronted with a trial.
But is this the right one to be asked, facing the upward mile?
When we face a trial, the biggest question we struggle with is “why?” more specifically, “Why is this happening to me?” As I sought to come to grips with embracing this trial, I am seeing the necessity to look beyond this question of “why me?”. My desire is to encourage us to learn how to get beyond this question by considering its Biblical answer and in turn asking the better question of “Who is God?”.
I genuinely believe that when we learn to look at our trials in the light of Who God is and what His purpose for our trials is, we will then embrace our trials, understanding that they are for our best and for His glory. When we see our trial from God’s perspective we will see the value of the trial and in turn gain from it God’s best for us.
I am confident that “God never wastes the sufferings of His saints,” but what I am also sure of is that we can often waste our times of suffering, in spite of God’s best intentions. Often when confronted with a time of difficulty, whether financial, relational, physical or any other kind of trial, we can become angry and in turn bitter. Often, we rebel against the trial, fighting it at every turn. Instead of allowing God to draw us closer to Himself, we become distant to God and others.
Considering the trial before me, I know I need to be led by God in order to not “waste this suffering.” But how? What is necessary to be a faithful steward of this trial? What is necessary to gain from this trial the truths that God desires to show me and the lessons He desires to teach me?
The first step is understanding what’s wrong with asking the question, “why”? What’s wrong with genuinely desiring to understand the reason why something difficult is happening to me? I believe that in and of itself this question can be innocent, yet it really depends upon the heart and mind behind the question.
The reason that this question is unproductive is because it’s often asked with the wrong perspective. Unfortunately, all too often when this question is asked, it is with a heart that is really asking, “Why me”? When asked this way, we are implying that we don’t deserve this trial based upon any number of reasons that all make sense to us at the time. We may be tempted to say, “I haven’t done anything to deserve this!” The question, “why me” truly is the natural first question but asked with the wrong perspective and attitude. With this statement, the focus is on the painful process instead of the praiseworthy purpose. The focus is on “what I don’t like” instead of “what God is like” and “what God knows is best.” The focus in on my self instead of on my God.
Another reason that this question is unproductive is because it’s asked with the wrong theology. When our trials are due to punishment or chastisement, in our heart of hearts the answer seems more understandable. It is easier to see that God is dealing with a specific sin. But when the trial seems beyond our understanding, or when it continues on with no end in sight, in weariness we are tempted to doubt the wisdom of God in allowing this to take place. If we are not careful, we can allow the pain of the Refiner’s fire to redefine our theology about the Refiner Himself. We therefore question who God is by questioning His love for us because it doesn’t feel like He loves me. There are other things that we question, but usually we start with His love. This is where we begin to waste the suffering. It is important to listen to what God is saying to us.
“Embrace the trial,” God says to me, “and fight not My design.
My way seems hard, the road unsure, when questioning the line.”
God responds by encouraging us to surrender. He wants us to stop focusing on the painful process and instead look to His praiseworthy purpose.
The next step is understanding the Biblical answer to the “why” question? Biblically, the why question has a simple answer which gives our times of suffering great purpose. Consider what Paul says in Romans 8:28-29, “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 […] to be conformed to the image of His Son.” God’s purpose for our suffering is the development of Christlikeness.
Why would He desire this purpose, one might ask? The answer comes from Revelation 4:11, which reads, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” We were created for God’s pleasure—“that we should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12). The way that we can accomplish this purpose is by submitting to God’s process—His process of developing the likeness of Christ in us, through the trials we face, in order to faithfully display the likeness of Christ, to others we face.
Sometimes this answer isn’t enough for us. Sometimes we still want to know “why me?” As the struggles of the trial continues, we plead with God for answers. We often plead with God, “I can’t do this! This is too much for me! Why does this have to be so hard?” Our conversation, with Him, may go something like this…
“My fight is not with You, my God, but why my path so hard?
My Lord, is this the best for me, Your frail and weary child?”
“Embrace the trial,” my Lord responds, “Surrender to My way.
Truly it’s for your best, you’ll see, My blessings’ on its way.”
“But Lord, this path is quite unclear and only if I knew,
The length of time to see it through I’d surrender all to You!”
“Embrace the trial, my dear child, I want what’s best for you.
I love you more than you can know just trust Me, this is true!”
“But why, O Lord, is this so hard for me to yield to You?
If only but a glimpse of view to bear this burden through.”
And then with loving, gentle voice, the pain He cuts right through,
“My Son will come alive in you, when yieldings’ what you do.”
It is in these times that we must yield our will to the will of God and trust Him. I find that a right perspective, based on right theology, is vital to overcoming this ongoing struggle against embracing the trial.
So, what’s the right perspective?
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”—1 Peter 1:7
The right perspective comes from a proper understanding of Who God is—He is the Divine Refiner skillfully purifying His children like gold. As I study through God’s Word I am amazed at the word pictures that are used to help us learn important truths. Peter speaks of a refiner to illustrate the process of the “trial of our faith.” The refiner heats the gold with fire to reveal the impurities, speaking of the areas of our lives that need to be changed. He then removes those impurities, purifying the gold. The purer the gold, the more reflective it becomes. God, as the Master Refiner, desires to see His own reflection as He looks into the lives of His children being purified in the furnace of suffering. His praiseworthy purpose is to see the likeness of His Son clearly displayed as His children respond in obedience to this painful process.
“The best is not the question ‘Why?’ but better yet, just ‘Who?’
For when you see Me, Who I am, you will surrender too.”
“So, embrace the trial, My dear child, My best is what you’ll see,
Beyond the suffering you feel, My Son they soon shall see.”
Next time we will seek to begin to look at the “Who” question, embracing “Who” God is to help us as we embrace this “why” question.