The Eternal Why
My niece recently tested my patience. I had to both hold my tongue and resist the temptation to hide in a closet because she kept asking one little question over and over and over again:
Y’all, I thought I was going to lose it.
Why is the sky blue?
Why won’t my baby doll blink her eyes?
Why are we having lasagna for dinner?
Why can’t I watch Sponge Bob?
Why do you live in Houston when we live here?
Why does my friend have a brother, but I don’t?
Why are you so tired?
Why is Mama looking at me light that?
Why are you laughing?
My sister Jamie just smiles at me, offering no aid in this never-ending barrage of questioning. Should I do what my mom used to do and make Addison look things up in the children’s encyclopedia? Lord know’s that ancient, colorful set of books is still on a shelf upstairs just in case we need it. It’s probably right beside my Sweet Valley High and Babysitter’s Club collections.
I somehow managed not to spurt out the perpetual, “BECAUSE I SAID SO” answer that used to annoy me to no end when I asked my mom similar versions of the same questions growing up.
Why can’t I find my name on any of the licenses plates in the Honey Comb cereal box?
Why can’t you drive me to the library?
Why are we having Hamburger Helper for dinner?
Why does Daddy have to work all the time?
Why do my friends have several Cabbage Patch dolls, but I only have one?
Why are you so tired?
Why is Jamie looking at me like that?
Why are you laughing?
As kids, we were all troubled by the eternal why. It seems so silly and frustrating if I look at it on a surface level, but truth be told, I still struggle with that exact same question today. Except now, instead of directing my irritation to Mama, I direct it to God.
Why do the wicked seem to prosper?
Why is there so much pain in the world?
Why am I praying for the same things over and over again?
Why does it seem that You don’t hear me?
Why do I have to keep asking?
Why aren’t You answering?
Why is this so confusing?
I’m reminded of the prophet Habakkuk who had a similar conversation with God. Habakkuk lived at a time when his community was overrun with corrupt leaders. The righteous were oppressed and crimes went unchecked. Habakkuk begged God to intervene.
God did intervene. By sending in a group of even more disturbing people to take over the land, Habakkuk’s house, his crops, and everything he held dear.
Well, that sort of backfired, didn’t it?
I probably wouldn’t have been as understanding as Habakkuk. My conversation with the Lord definitely would have escalated to a screaming match. I know the word “UNFAIR” would pepper my tantrum. That’s not the case with Habakkuk. He climbed on top of a wall so he could be alone in order to properly hear God.
The book of Habakkuk is all about living in faith. At first, the prophet wavers in his faith. He asks a lot of questions. Then he listens in faith as God reveals His plans to use an immoral nation to refine another one. Finally, Habakkuk responds in faith. No more whining. No more complaining. He understands the stakes, yet makes a decision to exalt the Lord regardless of his circumstances.
You don’t need me to tell you that this is easier said than done.
Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
We all know the drill. In order to live a faithful life, we can pray, study, worship, and serve, which is great. That is an easy list to check off. I do love to check off a list.
But what about that “do not see” part of the equation. Why is that disclaimer there?
Because we can’t control what we do not see.
That stings a little bit, doesn’t it? Having faith means we have to give up control. Our job is not to understand the work of God. Our job is to TRUST the work of God.
We rarely know what’s coming next. Things may not turn out the way we anticipate. In fact, more times than not, things will not turn out the way we anticipate. We must remember God’s sovereignty. It’s completely natural for us to ask why. Expect that question to creep up in every single day. It’s life.
Bad things will happen. Questions will follow. Frustration will settle into our bones. This is the time when we have a choice to make. Do we focus on the WHY? Or do we focus on the WHO?
It’s definitely a way of thinking I’m not used to, but I’m willing to make it my mission to go there.
I will ask. I will listen. I will believe. I will obey. I will rejoice.
Yet I will exalt in the LORD
I will trust God regardless of my circumstances
The Lord will be my strength
He has made my feet like hinds feet, that of a deer
He makes me walk on high places
— Habakkuk 3:18-19