I get it, Job. Sometimes life hurts and we can’t seem to get God to explain why he did it, or at least allowed it. I get it. Sometimes our “friends” want to take the shortcut and blame me for anything they can’t understand. If I’m hurting it must be my fault. I must have sinned otherwise I wouldn’t be suffering, according to them. But you know and I know that’s just superficial drivel.
On the other hand, my demand for an explanation is quite arrogant and presumptuous. I presume that I could understand and should be given an explanation. But God doesn’t need to justify himself to me.
Sadly, as I’ve learned through experience, I often do myself more harm in trying to answer “why?” by myself, in the absence of a direct answer from God. I start to fall into that very drivel that I reject from well-meaning but seriously wrong friends. I must have sinned. God must not love me. It only makes it hurt more and decreases my desire to stay close to God (hmmm. Do I smell smoke?)
Here’s what I know. Knowing God doesn’t mean I’ll understand everything about God and his ways. Sometimes it seems like my attempts to figure out God and come to an acceptable answer to “why?” reveals my tendency to want to know more ABOUT God than I want to actually KNOW him and LOVE him.
That’s a dangerous place to be. It’s the place where I get angry at God because I can’t understand why he didn’t fix my best friend’s marriage. It’s the place where I cannot figure out why God let me (or, according to some, led me to) undergo hardships and sufferings in my life. If I set understanding the mind and motives of God as the most important priority, I’ve missed the most important point of Scripture. God doesn’t say that he wants us to understand everything about him, all his motives, all his plans in advance. He says that he wants us to know HIM. In other words to have a relationship with him. When we put have a relationship, loving God, as our first priority, then we begin to see that the answer to the question “why?” is really an indirect answer.
After his resurrection, Jesus approached Peter, who had abandoned and forsaken him after his arrest. Jesus came to Peter and didn’t ask for an explanation. He didn’t demand to know his motives. Jesus looked Peter in the eye and asked, “Peter, do you love me?” Three times he asked until Peter was getting exasperated. The point Jesus was making was not about events, about circumstances or Peter’s motives. He focused Peter on the most important question. Do you love me? So often that’s really the question we’re asking God in our pain; it just comes out as, “why, God?” Does this mean you don’t love me? Does this mean I’m bad? Does this mean Jesus didn’t really deal with it all on the cross?
If I have learned anything through the trials and hardships of this life it is this: knowing and understanding God’s character is more important than knowing and understanding his motives. And the question I should be asking myself is, “do I love him?” If I don’t love him, no explanation is going to make any difference in my pain. If I love him, I don’t need an explanation. I know his character. I’ve experienced his love, his compassion, his provision. So, as much as I cry and shout and beg for answers, I know down deep that the only answer to any question that will make any difference is this, “do you love me, John?”
I think I get it, Job.