I once heard a sermon about asking God “why?” It was a good message, and the part of it that I took away to apply in my own life is that it never does any good to ask God “why?”. Sure, on occasion we get an answer, but almost all of the time we simply don’t. And we are left to wonder, and ponder, and basically stew ourselves into a mess because of that unanswered question. But even if we do get an answer to “why?”, what good does it do us? It satisfies a part of our human selves, yes. It satisfies our curiosity. It can change our emotions about the situation. But does it really do any tangible, or long-lasting good to simply know the answer? In my experience, it usually does not.
In this message, the speaker encouraged us to stop asking “why?” and instead substitute the questions “What does it mean?” and “What should I do because of it?” And I find that those questions result in much more good.
Let’s take a relatively unemotional issue to see the difference. Let’s say a high school student applies to several colleges, and the first one responds and says “no”. If the student asks God “why?” and gets an answer, the answer is quite obviously “because I did not want you to go to that school”. It’s a good answer. Quite solid. But it does not take the student any further in anything. They are still in the same place, physically, emotionally, and spiritually that they were in before they asked.
But if that same student asks God “What does it mean? And, what should I do because of it?” then God has an invitation to work in the student’s life. The student is ready and willing to hear further instruction from God, and take himself in a different direction if necessary. That answer from God may be “it means I have better plans for you. You should wait to hear from the other schools.” Or it may be “It means I wish you to do something else. You should explore XYZ instead.” Or it could mean any number of different things.
“Why?” is a simple demand for an explanation. “What does it mean, and what should I do because of it?” is the start of a dialogue.
Perhaps what you are facing is much more emotional than a school acceptance. Perhaps it is the loss of a job that you were counting on to pay the bills. Perhaps it was the recent loss of a loved one. Perhaps it is the physical and emotional aftermath of an injury. Or perhaps someone did something awful to you. Which would result in more help for you – asking “why?” or asking “what does this mean and what should I do because of it?”
Or perhaps, like me, another friend just announced her pregnancy. I am very happy for her, because she really wants this. But I have have wanted and waited for a viable pregnancy for more than 14 years. I have also been a foster parent, and an approved adoptive home. And yet, I have no children on this earth. “Why, Lord?” just doesn’t cut it anymore. It is time for me to switch to “What does this mean, and what should I do because of it?” Perhaps different questions will yield different answers, and new instructions from my Lord.