We’ve all asked this simple question in response to one thing or another. It’s not a bad thing to ask and often it’s not unreasonable. If you’re anything like me then you’ve had some twists and turns, some things that have caught you by surprise, and left you wanting nothing more than an answer to that short, but often complex question.
Have you ever met someone truly comfortable with mystery in life, perfectly fine to just enjoy the journey? Well, I can confidently say this is not my natural tendency. For me, there is always a reason. Let’s say a glass falls off the table. Well, did someone hit the table? Was there an earthquake? Are the table legs uneven? Was the glass too close to the edge to begin with? And on and on. As a naturally analytical person it’s my tendency to understand the process that led to an outcome.
I might go further then saying that this is personality type and propose that it’s a part of all of us to desire understanding. In fact it’s the “why” deep within us all that has led to countless discoveries and worldwide advancement. So “Why?” in and of itself is not inherently wrong. Many times it’s in the understanding of something or someone that healing comes.
The problem is, it’s not always a question that lends an answer. It’s in those times when it can not only be the wrong question after a while, but it can be a rope around your ankle that keeps you stuck in a moment or a season that you never escape from.
We’ve all heard the lyrics of the beloved Bono…”you’ve got to get yourself together, you got stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it“. It’s easy to make this observation from the outside of a person who can’t seem to get beyond their pain. But if you’re the one walking through it, it can seem impossible to escape. And sometimes it is actually impossible… on our own. Good thing our God is in the miracle business.
Maybe you’ve never had a season or an event that left you wanting nothing else but an answer. Where, for a while, even the best day still feels like hell because of the underlying pain that you can’t get rid off. If you haven’t, you likely will, and if you have, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a type of pain that makes you go numb. It’s goes so deep that in it’s immediate wake you can’t imagine ever being ok again.
All types of situations can leave us in this place…. sickness, infidelity, relational breakdown, death, the loss of a job, trauma… the list could go on. Sometimes things happen in life that we didn’t choose or want and other times we may have caused the situation. Whether the pain is the consequence of our actions or someone else’s, whether what happened to you was right or wrong, there is still life on the other side.
When we walk through grief and pain there is an appropriate time to process those emotions and allow ourselves to feel it and be real, and things can get really, really, real. God is not afraid of our feelings or our pain. But we don’t have to stay broken forever, there’s something beyond the pain. I love Romans 8:28- And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. God makes everything useful, good or not, he can use it because he is good and can only do good in our lives!
Not that I would ever wish for this type of pain in my life again, but I have recognized in my own journey that some lessons I’ve only learned in pain, or at least learned much more quickly than I could have otherwise. And we know that God doesn’t cause pain to teach us lessons, however, he can teach us when we find ourselves there. It doesn’t make the pain good, but what a waste if we don’t choose to get the most from it that we can? We might as well grow right?
In my own life when I was in a season just like the one I’m describing I remember one day when the Holy Spirit said to me “What if you never understand why? Or what if you did understand and it wasn’t enough? Will you allow yourself to be healed without it? Can I take you to the other side of why?”. My honest response at the time was “I don’t know”.
Up until that specific moment I was consumed by this question. It would keep me up at night and wake me up in the morning. I was holding “why” as a ransom for my healing from the Holy Spirit. I was refusing to be healed until I understood. Then the Holy Spirit said to me “What if I’m more concerned about what’s happening inside of you then about what’s happening to you?”. You see, the more I asked why, the more crickets I heard. Apparently I was not going to understand, at least not in this season. I heard great advice from a leader once that when “Why?” is getting no response maybe it’s time to change our question to “What am I supposed to do next?”.
So I changed my question… and I allowed God to do a supernatural work that I can’t explain, except I was broken, then I wasn’t and the big clincher: nothing actually changed except my willingness. My understanding was exactly the same afterwards as it was before. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, which is why it’s a miracle- something outside of what should be possible.
My advice to anyone in a season like I was in is to grieve properly and embrace all the stages. You can only know how long is appropriate by having great advisors around you and through direction of the Holy Spirit, BUT when it’s time to leave… pack up your tent and refuse to build a house in that place. When we refuse to be healed we can open up our spirit to things like self-pity, apathy, revenge etc. It’s our choice whether our places of pain become an anchor for new authority or a stronghold for new bondage. We can choose.
Do we really have to know why to be healed? I can confidently say no. Sometimes mystery will be a reality that we not only need to accept, but embrace. We learn to trust God in such a deeper way when we can let go and know he’s got everything under control. It’s a healthy thing sometimes to not know exactly how this thing is going to end or where exactly it’s heading. As much as we might hate to hear it- some things we really do only understand in hindsight.
Maybe you’re right in the middle of a season like this now. I would end by encouraging you with a verse from the book of John that Jesus spoke to the disciples when they didn’t understand what was about to happen concerning his death. The Holy Spirit highlighted this verse so clearly to me out of the Message version of the Bible one night when I was particularly have a rough time. I’m also pregnant so I could particularly relate… 🙂
… your sadness will develop into gladness. “When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.