1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
--Psalm 22:1-2; 14-16
Sunday we began our Why? series. “Why?” is a question on many people’s minds. Why? God, why? Why this? Why now? Why me? Why my children? Why cancer? Why an earthquake? Why a car accident? Why an innocent baby? Why so much suffering? Why so much pain? Why? God, why?
Growing up, I often heard that you shouldn’t ask why, that “questioning God” was somehow off limits. You know what I wondered when I was taught that? Why? Can God not handle our questions? Does the God of the Universe not understand when we get angry and want to know why?
On Sunday, part of what we did was look at some reasons, I think, it’s okay to ask why. So, let’s review. Why Ask Why?
- People of faith always have--All throughout Scripture are stories of people who suffered terrible tragedies and pain. Time and again, they asked why. The Psalmist in Psalm 22, prays, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Did you know that 70% of the psalms are psalms of lament? The Book of Psalms is Israel’s prayer book, and 70% of them are psalms of lament where the psalmist prays to God, “God, where are you? It feels like I’m all alone down here. God, why are staying so far from me? God, why?” If Israel’s prayer book is composed of prayers like that, I think it’s okay to question, and cry out to God that way too. There is an entire book in the Bible called Lamentations. Guess what’s in that? That’s right. Laments. Complaints to God. Honest, authentic relationship with God requires honest, authentic prayer. Job and his friends questioned why Job’s fate had befallen him. He was a good and upright man, yet he suffered tremendously. Why? That was the question they repeatedly asked. Jesus, even asked why. From the cross, he quoted Psalm 22, “My God, my God why?” See, God desires an authentic relationship with us. God doesn’t want us to hide stuff from him, why to keep from hurting his feelings?
- That brings me to the second thing: God is big enough to handle our little questions--This is the God of the universe we’re talking about here. God created everything there is. By the power of the divine voice, this world was spoken into existence. God just said, “Let there be light,” and there was. I doubt that our questions will threaten God.
- Third, God’s not going to be threatened by our anger, either. And, let’s face it: Why is a question we generally ask out of anger and a place of deep pain and grief. It’s not often you hear somebody say, “God, why did you let me land this great job? I don’t deserve it. God, why would you let this happen to me?” Just doesn’t happen. Why is a question we ask in the midst of our anger. And that’s okay.
- Since Sunday I thought of a fourth reason: “Why?” is a faith question. You don’t bother asking why unless you believe there is some sort of an answer. You don’t bother asking, “Why God?” unless you believe in God. So, at its core, “why?” is a question asked in faith.
So, the overwhelming weight of Scripture suggests that “Why?” is a perfectly natural question to ask, especially in times of pain, sorrow, and grief.
The answer? Well, that’s a good bit tougher.
Looking forward to this Sunday,