Letting Go of Why
This article is Part 4 of Sister Michelle Watson's series "Dealing With Divine Delays," chronicling the lessons she learned during a time of infertility.
"You owe me an explanation!" Have you ever said this to someone else? I think we use the word "owe" because we feel like the information is somehow payment in exchange for whatever we lost in the scenario, whether we lost time because the other person was late or we lost confidence because the person lied.
I admit that, in the past, I felt like saying, "God, you owe me an explanation."
It's not that God is cruel, withholding the explanation just because He can — it's a matter of entitlement. I'm just not entitled to it (gird up your loins and read Job 38, for example). There's no scripture that says, "God must explain himself to humans whenever they demand it." God has no obligation to relinquish certain knowledge to me — and any He does choose to bestow is a gift.
Nevertheless, I used to think, "If I only knew why this was happening to me, then it would be easier to bear. I'd know there was some purpose for it, something good that would come out of it."
Have you ever felt the same way about a misfortune in your own life? "Oh, if I only knew why, then it would be so much easier..."
But is that really true?
Four or five years ago, I'd have said, "Yes!" I'm sure those of you who've experienced devastations that far outweigh those in my life have with broken, humble heart yearned for God to share why.
As for me, my feelings were more superficial. I felt alone in my problem. I felt frustrated because I couldn't progress to this next stage of life. I felt confused by the unanswered prayers. I felt bitter about other people's happiness. I felt ashamed at my supposed failure.
That's a lot of feelings flying around — and even though I wanted to pretend that my "why" was about facts, logic, and head knowledge — the knowing why — it actually had more to do with my heart.
If God answers my why, I thought, then that means He still hears me and is interested in what's going on with me. It means He's involved. Back then, I felt that this unanswered prayer for a baby represented a huge disconnect between God and me, and I thought that "knowing why" would restore that connection.
If I'd been completely honest with myself, I think I would've had to admit that I wasn't truly interested in knowing the reason why — and knowing wouldn't have actually made me feel better about what was going on. Asking was just a means to an end — an excuse to reach out to my Heavenly Father to see if He still cared.
Of course, He did. He's the giver of good gifts (Ja. 1:17), so the only thing I could conclude was that not knowing why was good for me. Why did I immediately assume that knowing was in my best interest? Why did I assume that I could even understand His answer?
God never told me why I was going through the trial. But that doesn't mean He didn't walk every step of the way by my side. He never promised that He'd answer my every question, but He did promise that He'd never leave me (Heb. 13:5, Matt. 28:20). God fulfilled His promise by dwelling with me during that time, and that was much more significant than a whole barrel of answers to "why?"
For next time: Do something about my problem or be still and wait on God? Which one exhibits real faith?
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.