What Can You Do when You Wonder "Why?"
- 2007 24 Apr
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Vernon Brewer's new book, Why?: Answers to Weather the Storms of Life, (World Help, 2007).
If you’ve lost your job, received a devastating diagnosis from your doctor, or seen your spouse walk out of your marriage, you know well what it’s like to suffer and wonder why this is happening to you. No matter what challenge you’re facing, it can be hard to carry on in the midst of suffering.
But God is holding out hope for you to grab onto, even when you don’t know why He has allowed you to suffer. Here’s what you can do when you wonder “Why?”:
* Seek wisdom instead of answers. Acknowledge that, sometimes, God doesn’t reveal His specific reasons for allowing suffering into your life, and there are no immediate or obvious answers to your questions. Understand that, while much of the spirit world is beyond your comprehension this side of eternity, you can trust God’s promise that He will use any suffering He allows to accomplish good purposes for you. Rather than seeking answers to why something is happening to you, ask God what He wants you to learn from it. Count on God to give you all the wisdom you need to grow from tough experiences.
* Remember that God is with you. Know that God is present with you in the midst of every situation, no matter how difficult, and that He cares about what you’re going through. Ask Him to make you aware of His presence with you whenever you need encouragement. Trust God’s promise that He is ultimate control of what happens to you. Understand that, when you can’t understand what’s going on, God is still at work behind the scenes, with your best interests at heart.
* Don’t be surprised by troubles. Recognize that, in this fallen world, suffering comes into everyone’s lives. Expect to encounter challenges, but also expect God to help you through whatever comes your way. Know that God isn’t punishing you when you suffer, but simply allowing you to experience something He knows will help you grow in good ways. Realize that God won’t change your circumstances until the circumstances that He has allowed in your life change you.
* Avoid negative responses. Make a conscious choice to refrain from resentment, bitterness, envy, and worry as you deal with challenges, because all of those negative responses will poison your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and help you focus on all that’s positive and helpful.
* Fight the battle of emotions. Don’t allow your emotions to control you. Instead, overcome troubling emotions like discouragement, fear, loneliness, anger, depression, anxiety, and disappointment expressing them honestly to God in prayer and asking Him to give you the peace that only He can give. Cope with your emotions one day at a time, staying connected to God through prayer and relying on His unlimited strength.
* Expect God to fulfill good purposes through bad situations. Rest assured that God has a purpose for every challenge you face, and a good plan for your future. Don’t fear the unknown; instead, hand your situation over to God and invite Him to create something beautiful out of the broken pieces of it. Understand that there aren’t any shortcuts to suffering; you must go through it to receive the benefits of transformation. Ask God to develop patience, perseverance, and endurance in you. Keep on loving God and others as you deal with your challenges, and expect to see God at work in your life as you do.
* Pray often. Every day, pray about what’s on your mind, listen to what God says to you through His Spirit and His Word, and embrace the encouragement and hope He offers you. Ask other people to intercede for you in specific ways. Pray with others (such as a prayer partner or members of a Bible study group) whenever you can. Make your prayers personal, being honest with God and building intimacy with Him. Thank God for what He has done and is currently doing in your life. Approach God with an attitude of repentance. Make specific requests. Express your confidence and trust in God’s ultimate control of your life – including your suffering.
* Embrace comfort. Don’t try to tackle too much at once or let anxiety about the future consume you; go easy on yourself and just take one day at a time. Look for signs of God’s grace around you every day, such as through the hugs of friends and family members and the inspirational messages of songs. Read your Bible often for encouragement. Let people who care about you know how they can help you, and accept their help with gratitude. Reach out to God for comfort whenever you need it.
* Reach out beyond yourself to others. Know that every challenge you face helps prepare you to help others. Use the lessons you’ve learned in your own suffering to positively impact other people’s lives. Ask God to turn your tragedy into a platform to share His hope and love. Pray for Him to open your eyes to notice the many people around you who are struggling. Remember that no matter what you’re going through, there is always someone else who is experiencing even greater suffering. Show compassion on others by praying for them, financially supporting charities, doing volunteer work, and in any other ways God leads you to serve. Discover your passions for ministry and follow them. Ask God to shine His light through you into suffering people’s darkness. Share the story of how God has worked in your life whenever you have an opportunity to encourage someone else. Point other people toward Jesus and the hope and love that He offers them.
* Recognize gifts in disguise. Understand that your challenges can actually be gifts disguised as burdens. Be thankful whenever your challenges cause you to grow closer to God, focus on what matters most in life, or help you mature into the person God intends you to become.
Adapted from Why?: Answers to Weather the Storms of Life by Vernon Brewer, copyright 2006 by World Help. Published by World Help, Inc., Forest, Va., www.worldhelp.net.
Vernon Brewer is the founder and president of World Help, a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization that is uniquely qualified and strategically positioned to meet the spiritual and physical needs of hurting people around the world. World Help exists to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment through partnering, training, helping and serving, especially in the unreached areas of the world. Vernon is also the author of The Forgotten Children: Hungry. Hopeless. Running for Their Lives.