There’s a lot of pain in this world. I’ve walked through my share. And I’ll admit, I don’t have the answers; I sure don’t have life figured out. But from personal experience, I have discovered a critical truth.
If we blame God, if we get stuck in the “why” of it all, we dangerously descend into the deep recesses of a potentially abandoned well, immune to the circle of light which sits at the surface.
We tout rights. Demand explanations.
Truth is, none of that satisfies.
In the end, we must surrender the “Why?” to God. What greater gift can we give God, our creator, than to choose to surrender to His mystery? We flinch at the simplicity, but it’s true. Emotional healing boils down to our choice. Do we want to be well? How bad?
|When Jesus saw him… and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well” (John 5:6 NIV)?|
Yes, I want to be well. Bad enough to arrange my life around that desire.
God blesses that choice. When we choose to surrender, God drops us a ladder—a way out. Every time. Hard theology for some I know, but I’ve earned it and have a right to say so.
We must not focus on the pain but rather a Sovereign God who has a plan for our lives.
Is it possible? Dare we?
After ten years of Pharisaical religion and countless failed attempts to live out my skewed perspective of Christianity, I discovered God desired two things of me. First, I finally accepted that God wasn’t as concerned as I was about what I could do for Him, or even for others. He desired an intimate relationship with me. An authentic union. And that required setting aside my false beliefs that I could no longer trust anyone (yet another layer of emotional healing).
I’d proudly given God the best present I could offer: my brain. I’m pretty bright–God gifted me that way. A true nerd, perpetual student, voracious reader. Relentless in my search for knowledge, I steeped myself in theology and right practice. Looking back, I imagine God smiled, placed my offering aside and noted the valiant effort, but then probed deeper in search of the true gift: my heart.
“You care nothing for the surface, you want us–our true selves…give me an uncluttered and focused heart…(1 Chron 29:13 The MSG).”
This gentle soul-touch from God led me to the second revelation. God wanted me to bring Him glory; that was the ultimate purpose I was created for and all of my life experiences were supporting roles. God could use my life as an indication of how He wants to work in the lives of other women if (and that’s one big IF) I allowed Him to.
“They are my people,” God says. “I created them to bring me honor (Is 43:7 CEV).”
Again, I chose yes. That somehow, in the midst of this mess of my life, you would be honored, God!
How about you? Are you willing to stop asking “Why?” and start asking “What’s Next?” Where are you on the journey of surrender?
Jo Ann Fore is an author, teacher, book-freak, and fun friend. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of women. Most noted for her authentic vulnerability, Jo Ann captivates her audience with faith-filled messages caramelized with a powerful promise of hope. She is the founder of the Write Where It Hurts community, where she is honored to spend her days in the midst of women seeking hard after God’s plans for their lives.
28 thoughts on “Why God, Why?”
This is exactly what the women’s conf I’m leading next weekend has been born out of! I still struggle with surrender, but def getting a lot of practice at it!
Oh, that I could be at the conference Elizabeth! Surrender is a DAILY thing for me.
Great piece, Jo Ann! Yes, I surrender my life over and over and when it seemed I had nothing,I had everything because I turned my will and my life over to His will for my life.
So funny, when I replied to Elizabeth’s comment above, I just admitted how surrender is a DAILY thing for me. Oh how He longs to bless us, if only…
Regina Hix Love it! Feel it!
Ron Parvu I have, and God answered: “Why not?”
Ron Parvu So I asked again, and God said: “Because I can.”
Pat Eunis There have been many times in my life when I have asked God “why”. In the end the incidents got worked out somehow.But, the two times in my life when I could only scream out in anger at God and asked Him “why”. “Why didn’t you stop this” Why didn’t you keep your promise to protect my children”
“Why did you let my son and my daughter die before me”
There has never been anything more devastating than losing my children. But there did come a day when I was able to let go of my anger, I was able to stop asking “why’, I was even able to ask God to forgive me for such anger against Him.
I know that I have to move forward in my life.
I don’t have any idea of where God is going to take me to but I know that I have to trust Him. Trust Him enough to let go of the sorrow and the sadness.
I want to get my joy back. I want to be able to laugh again.
Shelby Palmer I have asked everyday for the last almost 18 years
I’m uncertain what pain brings you to the question on a daily basis, but I pray that God, in His mercy, grace, and overpowering love brings you to a point of reconciliation. He has a plan for you, He has joy for you, He has something that only you can do — if we can move past the point of pain.
I cannot fathom the loss. You know how my heart breaks for you. Oh how I hope you are writing through the pain, as it leaks, pours, and sometimes permeates your entire heart. I must trust that somehow God is working, even in this.
I pray a comfort that only God can bring — a richness that finds you leaning into his Big & Able Chest!
Much love my sweet friend,
Surrender it is my Word for this year. Love what you wrote JoAnne…that somehow even in the midst of our messes we can bring Him honor. Some days it is easy to walk the path He sets before me and other days it is more of a struggle, but if I keep my eyes focused on what he can accomplish through me I will feel His peace permeating my day.
I love that Cindie–your Word for the year is surrender. It is a struggle, isn’t it? If there’s someone out there who has this one totally down, I think I will move under their mentorship for the rest of my journey on this earth :). But you’re so right about the FOCUS on Him. Funny thing, focus is actually one of my Words for the year. Love how God works that way!
Surrendering is a hard thing to do but I had to accept the fact that trying to do things under my own power and understanding was not working for me. We ask why, God says, “Why not” He said he would not put more on us that we can bare. If He knew everything about us before we were born, of course He knows we will get through our situations, He just looking for us to say…Ok Lord I surrender all!
Amen, Althea! Isn’t that the hardest place to land — “okay, Lord, I surrender all!”
When I ask God, “Why”, He boldly responds, “Why not?” Why should I be exempt from physical & emotional pain, frustrating trials, unexpected disappointments, humiliating rejections as well as long-term suffering? Then my Heavenly Father gently reminds me that Jesus suffered far greater than you or I will ever imagine. When Jesus selflessly shed His blood on the cross, His purpose was to deliver us from evil, to redeem us and to provide us hope through salvation. Jesus said that in this world there will be trouble, but the good news is that He has overcome the world. This is what gives me HOPE, STRENGTH, COMFORT & PEACE. Jesus is my reason for not getting stuck in the question of why something happened. Instead of getting caught up in issues where I have no control, I focus on how powerful Christ is and hold tightly to His biblical promises. Another excellent method I use to boost my faith is to look back on all of the times God has worked amazing miracles in my life. This inspires me to keep trusting God because He has proven over and over how very FAITHFUL He is!
Dana, you inspire me from knowing what you do on your own journey of “why.” Thank you for sharing!
Surrender to the pain so it can removed. That’s been my disconnect. How can God help if you don’t surrender it!
Amen Gail. Amen! How can he heal what we cling to. Such a difficult lesson, though.
I’ve asked “What’s next?” before, but it’s been more of an exasperated, “Good Lord! What NEXT?!?”
I love the way you bring our focus back to the positive. I was always intrigued by the passage where Jesus asked the blind man, “Do you want to see?” My first thought (many years ago) was, “Well, duh! Of course he wants to see!” (I never claimed I wasn’t a little mouthy in my earlier days of Christ-following, and I tripped a lot with those first steps.)
A few days after our newborn daughter died in our arms, my midwife whispered words to me that I have never forgotten. Indeed, they have seen me through many a trial in the nearly-22 years since that day. She said, “These things that happen to us…this pain that engulfs us…it will do one of two things: it will either harden us as brick or it will refine us as gold. We choose which it will be.” I chose gold that day, and I’ve chosen gold many times since, but it has always been a painful refining.
Thank you, dear friend, for your wisdom and encouragement. We are all blessed by the weaving of your words.
Oh precious friend,
You who speaks from the depth of pain understands how difficult the journey of surrender is. And oh that we would always “choose gold!”
As a christian counselor and author of a book on the losses of life, i believe this is a most necessary topic for discussion– and one i tackeled in my book. The enigma of suffering brings up age old questions, but at the end of the day we each have to decide what our response will be to the real injustices and hurts we experience. I believe loss wages an assault on our hearts— and that we must fight the battle to reclaim them because they matter to God. Once we’ve spent time grieving and putting words to our pain, we must reinvest our hearts with a bigger plan and purpose in mind. The biggest struggle is deciding if what happened to us will be the most significant part of our story, or will it be what happens in us as a result of our losses.
Powerful insight Rita — thanks so much for sharing! Keep us posted on that book, it’s much-needed.
It’s taken me a very, very long time to get to the point of not fighting and to surrender. Like I said in my piece about me, my life has played out like a really bad Lifetime movie…since basically toddler-hood I have known nothing but abuse of every kind imaginable, which lead to addictions and more abuse. I learned at a very young age not to trust because if you trusted you got hurt. I never felt worthy of being loved…I always felt that went as far as God too. So, giving up 100% control and trusting and relying on God was a very hard thing to do. It was very scary. It wasn’t until after the death of my baby that I began to even try….but, if I hadn’t I know I wouldn’t be here now. Turning to the Lord and giving him the control is what saved my life.
My heart breaks for your losses. I thank God that you allowed Him to permeate the deepest of pains and come in and heal as only He can. I pray for His love to continue to heal your heart, with each passing day.
The only constant in my life is disappointment,
Depression is second nature.
Cynics become friends,
Friends become ornaments with no real substance.
Yet a constant noise that fills the ear
And leaves one empty.
Yet without them you would be vulnerable nakedness,
As naked as vulnerableness.
Cursed and shamed left beside.
So you surround yourself with the ornaments of good friends
And good times
And go about the familiar drill of life internally alone
With noone to frequent your soul.
I have searched, but noone wants to teach me how to
Get out of my hell. How do I know if this is my destiny?
Wow, Cindy, I just saw this. I am so sorry i’m just getting to connect with you. I love the authenticity of your words. My heart aches for you. I first want to say, there are friends who help you bide time, and there are friends who help you heal. I pray (hard) that your “antenna” is alert to those healing friends.
I also pray that you will stay in community with us. There are some posts on here even this month that speak into directly what you ask. And we are getting ready to open our prayer community where we can post requests openly for a community of women to intercede. I invite you to join in. Prayer Works!
I am just starting to realize that I’m not going to know the Why, that the trials that have been chosen for me are not trials that are going to be taken away. For whatever reason, they are mine, and they are going to be mine for life. So now I’m on the path, searching for a way through them, a way to live WITH them, a way to accept them and LIVE with joy anyway, it has taken FAR, FAR, too long to realize this, maybe this is my glimmer of HOPE, realizing they are my trials for life, but life can go on! For so long I prayed for healing, for the trial to be taken away, then along the way I gave up praying, feeling unworthy for what I was praying, then just unworthy…… I’m beginning to realize I should be praying for guidance and grace to carry me through the trial, to help me accept it and to live with it, but mostly to find joy in spite of it. If I can find hope to help me carry it with me, but not let it BE me, to be able to say it is there, but I’m going to try anyway, to do it anyway, to love, to give, to care anyway, I will become the woman God intended me to be…..the woman I want to be, if I can find the courage…..
Tammy, my sweet new friend, your post encourages me. In spite of your circumstances, you press in for the deeper joy. Selah.
I pray God grants you the courage to probe His deeper truths, His mysteries, His true healing. And most of all, that you will be exactly the “women He intends you to be.”
I loved this piece. I am always looking for other’s perspective on deep pain and it’s role in shaping us as believers. When I was twenty-four, I lost my brother to suicide. The emotional pain and turmoil seemed more than I could bare, but it brought me to Jesus. The grief did not let up, and at times I wondered if I was afraid to let it go because I would also be letting go of my beloved brother and best friend. Then my father killed himself as well. Double grief!! I knew instinctively that if I allowed myself to become bitter and blame God for his death, all was lost. I would not make it in the world. So I “decided” I would trust Him in this as well. I grieved for another year, and it was a deep pit I could not crawl out of. Then, I read the Scripture, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5), and I knew it was for me. Like realizing you no longer have the hiccups, but not knowing when they stopped, I realized three months later I know longer felt grief. That was in 1981. I have not felt grief about these suicides in all those years. I miss my brother and father still, and wish the did not end their own lives, but the pain has simply vanished, and I know God healed me.
Wow Linda — praise God for His healing touch! I’m so sorry for the losses you’ve endured (truly I cannot fathom), but I thank God that He has comforted you as only He can.
I am blessed to see how someone can appreciate their brain. I noticed a male friend who I didn’t know had not graduated high school. He is intelligent, but was told he was a slow learner. It saddened me to see he seemed resentful that I had a brain. I have two sisters that treat me the same way. I had much trauma and it affected my life, and I had begun to remember my old vocabulary. My memory was affected, now I remember that I was arrested in my development. I would have loved to have attended college, but much of the past trauma set me back. At 57, I still enjoy learning, and I have so much regret that I missed out on so many opportunities, but I pray that God will bless me with new doors to open at my age. I appreciate all the women who share so much, when I have not had women friends I could trust to share my truths, and not see me as some rival. I don’t ask God why, I do understand more about my life than before. God’s wisdom is always more than my knowledge, but I know God did bless me with the mind I have. I was afraid to even believe I was intelligent with so many telling me just to give God all the glory, and not to have confidence in myself. Thank you for that question I know many people ask.