Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why God? Why?

I spoke in an earlier post about the shame and guilt following my son's decision to end his life. I questioned so many things I did as a mother. I not only questioned myself but I found myself questioning God, too.  Probably the biggest question was, "Why didn't God stop my loved one from killing himself?" Not only was "I" on trial in my thoughts .. but I also attempted to make God defend Himself on the witness stand.

I remember the shock that followed those early months. I couldn't believe that God had allowed this. Hadn't I spent years praying for my son? Hadn't God answered so many of those prayers? I honestly believed that my prayers would be answered in exactly the way I had prayed. I couldn't believe that it had ended this way. I had so many unanswered questions.

I spent unprofitable time pursuing answers to this kind of questioning and it kept me in a prison of darkness. The answer never came... at least not in the way that I was asking the question. It was only after I changed my thinking about God and the situation that I eventually found peace.

While searching for answers I was reminded of the book of Job and how he had lost all of his children unexpectedly. I had spent time in this book after my husband became disabled for I knew that Job had suffered physically.  I now began to sift through those pages again. This time hoping to find out how Job responded to the loss of his children.

I discovered Job had questions, too! *
  • Why didn't you let me die at birth? Job 3:11
  • Why didn't you dry up my mother's breast so that I would starve? 3:12
  • Why do you keep wretched people like me alive? 3:20-22
  • How do you expect me to have hope and patience? 6:11
  • What do you think I'm made of anyway? Stone? Metal? 6:12
  • If life is so short, does it have to be miserable, too? 7:1-10
  • Why don't you back off and quit hurting me for awhile? 7:17,19
  • What did I ever do to You that I became the target for Your arrows? 7:20
  • Why don't You forgive me before I die and it's too late? 7:21
  • How can mortal man be righteous before a holy God? 9:2
  • Why do You favor the wicked? 9:24
  • Since You've already decided I'm guilty, why should I even try?  9:29
  • You're the one who created me, so why are You destroying me? 10:8
  • Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy? 13:24
  • Why don't You let me meet You somewhere face to face so I can state my case? 23:3-6
  • Why don't You set a time to judge wicked men? 24:1
I discovered that Job did not find comfort by his questioning either. 

The answer I was looking for was found towards the end of the book. God asks Job this heart probing question, "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?"  God might as well have asked that question of me! "Georgene, where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding."

God then begins interrogating Job with His own round of questions. Questions that will make it clear that Job lacks the knowledge and understanding to interpret life's difficult questions.

Here are just a few:
  • Who made the limits for the sea saying how far it could go?
  • Have you entered the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? 
  • Have you commanded the morning to appear?
  • Were you there when I (God) laid the foundation of the earth?
  • Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know it's place?
  • Have you entered the storehouses of snow? 
God ends His first round of questioning by saying, "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." (Job 40:2)

Job's response is life changing:

"I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth". Job 40:4

What changed Job's heart? What stopped the questioning? His body was still covered in painful sores. His children were still dead. His wealth was gone. What laid his questions to rest?

We finally get a glimpse of what is going on in Job's heart, "I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you." (Job 42:3)

Job bowed beneath the majestic greatness of his God. The complaining stopped and so did the questions because his view of God had been exalted. God was elevated to the rightful place of sovereign King who alone rules in wisdom over the universe He created.

"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5,6)

This is where I laid my questions to rest. I was incapable of rightly judging this situation because I was not God. I was brought to that same place of humility, as my brother Job, where I bowed my heart in humility and said, "I repent for questioning you God. You alone are God and I choose to trust your character...even (and especially) through this dark valley that I do not understand".

You keep him in perfect peace  
whose mind is stayed on you
   he trusts in you
  Isaiah 26:3 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares 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)

It became clear that I didn't have to find an answer to life's unanswerable questions. 

The tormenting thoughts slowed down to a trickle once I made the decision to trust God! Keeping close watch over my thought life became essential in the coming days. God gave abundant grace to take each thought captive with Scripture,

... take every thought captive to obey Christ.. (2 Cor. 10:5)

and then to renew my mind according to the truth of Scripture. put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life 
and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  
and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  
and to put on the new self, 
created after the likeness of God 
in true righteousness and holiness.  
Ephesians 4:22-24

The accusing thoughts and questions still bombard my thoughts at times. But, now they are greeted as an unwelcomed guest where before I would allow them to take up residency.  I'm learning (again) that I must choose to obey His Word and trust Him.... today... in this moment.. and in this heart breaking trial. 

Be still, and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations.
 I will be exalted in the earth!”  
Psalm 46:10

* Permission granted to use these questions from Secret Strength by Joni Eareckson Tada.
   Scriptures used from the ESV bible. Underlining is my emphasis.