Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why Did THIS Happen to Me?



When we are thrown into a devastating circumstance, it is a natural tendency to ask why THIS happened to us. And, natural tendencies are totally understandable. However, it is up to us to quickly answer our own question (how we do that will be explained shortly). The longer we continue to ask why without answering the question ourselves, the more that we walk by our natural tendencies rather than by faith in God. Are we to walk by natural tendencies? Does everything happen for a reason? Is God sovereign and in control over everything? If so, then why did God let THIS happen to me?

In every bad circumstance, there are reasons that we may never see on this side of eternity. For Christians, pain and suffering at very least help to remind us that this is not our home. In that regard, we must realize that instead we live in a war zone - a spiritual war zone. And, in every war zone, spiritual or not, there is always collateral damage. The evil that we commit is almost always splashed upon the innocent. There is no evil that does not injure those who were not guilty of it. That is why there is probably no such thing as a victimless crime.

When bad things happen, we may inevitably ask why. But, I submit to you, that rarely will you find the reason why in the past. It is almost always in the future. And, we have a simple option to immediately answer the question. There is a famous story recorded in John 9 that begins to illustrate this truth. Jesus and His disciples observed a man that was born blind. The curious disciples proceeded to ask Jesus if THIS were so because of the man’s sin or because of the sin of his parents. Jesus rightly answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Then Jesus healed the man and that man became famous for praising God for all of His miraculous glory. Jesus showed His disciples that it is not always our present or our past that explains bad circumstances that for no apparent reason we find ourselves in. Rather it is our future – how we respond to THIS circumstance – that determines the reason.

This past weekend, I had the honor of visiting one of my former students, Grant Lafoon, who is spiritually and physically battling brain cancer. I had the privilege of spending time with him while he was recovering between sessions of radiation and chemotherapy. It was through this valley that Grant drew closer to God more intimately than he ever dreamed he could. I will never forget some of the things that Grant taught me as he shared his testimony. Grant refuses to ask why THIS happened to him. His daily mantra, no matter what comes his way, is to “throw out the cons and focus on the pros.” Therefore, Grant consciously chooses to praise God no matter what the circumstance. He does not look to his past for answers. Rather, he rests in God and praises Him for the future. And, by praising God, Grant is declaring the reason and the purpose of all that he endures - and, he is faithfully enduring. As a former football player Grant is a large man physically, but he is a giant in faith. By praising God, he not only determines the reason, but also he determines the impact of his circumstances. You can follow Grant's progress HERE.

In my own life, I remember my grandfather, Mertland Higgs, who lost his wife, Lily, while she was only in her 40s. We called him Pa. And, Pa went home to Jesus several decades after Lily passed (he lived to be 95). Pa left our family with a legacy that I will never forget. Even though he loved his wife dearly, he never asked God why He took her so soon. I was a teenager one day when I asked him, “Pa, have you ever asked God why He took Lily to Heaven so young?” With tears in his eyes, Pa said, “Timmy, no I never did.” He paused and then said, “I don’t think I have that right. God loves her far more than I ever could. And, she is waiting there for me to come home.” Pa lived the rest of his life as a faithful widower. And, in every circumstance, Pa chose to praise God. He lived a life of praise. In doing so, Pa not only discovered the reason why THIS happened – he determined it.

The best example of this from the Bible is probably Job. In his famous story, Job lost all of his children, their spouses, all his possessions, and was personally covered in boils from head to toe. After losing everything, Job famously responded in Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And, it was Job’s response that determined the reason for the valley in which he walked – and he walked a much deeper valley than the vast majority of us. But, Job is not famous for his suffering, but for his patience. It has become a modern cliché to refer to someone as having “the patience of Job.” The story of Job now has the meaning which at the time was probably lost on even Job himself. And, that meaning has encouraged and blessed countless millions of people. I am sure, knowing what Job knows now – how his story has blessed so many - that if given the chance to do THIS over again, Job would. Job determined to praise God in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I will close with the lyrics of one of my favorite songs growing up, “Praise the Lord” by the Imperials. I know this is old school, but the lyrics give a more appropriate conclusion than I can ever write:

When you're up against a struggle, that shatters all your dreams,
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan's manifested schemes,
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fear,
Don't let the faith you're standing in seem to disappear.
Praise the Lord, He will work through those who praise Him.
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise.
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seem to bind you,
Serve only to remind you, that they drop powerless behind you,
When you praise Him.
Now, Satan is a liar and he wants to make us think,
That we are paupers, when he knows himself we're children of the King.
So lift up the mighty shield of faith for the battle must be won.
We know that Jesus Christ has risen so the work's already done.
Praise the Lord, He will work through those who praise Him.
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise.
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seem to bind you,
Serve only to remind you, that they drop powerless behind you,
When you praise Him.
Praise the Lord!

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.