If there’s oe thing I know, it’s that suffering in one form or another is a universal experience. We’ve all had to deal with it at one time or another. No one escapes. As someone who has lived with chronic pain for years, I understand the effects of living with pain on the mind and the body. I can tell you that I’ve had many a sleepless night pondering the question of “Why.” I’ve learned through that experience that asking “why” can take you down a long road and to a lot of different places, but ultimately it leads to a dead-end.
For myself, I know that a part of what I’m living through is a consequence of something I did. Actions have consequences. That’s the painful, ugly truth, and not admitting it doesn’t make it any less true. Am I saying that all my suffering is a result of bad decision-making? No. Nor is anyone’s. I can tell you that asking the question of “why” only exacerbates and prolongs what is already painful. Every answer to “why” invariably leads down the road of blame where the passengers of anger, guilt, and shame climb in the cab with us. Often asking the question of “why” can trap us in a quagmire of paralyzing emotion.
That’s not to say that asking the question of “why” isn’t important and even necessary. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t ever asked the question, and I think it’s important to do so. It’s so easy when suffering to get caught up in thinking that it’s our fault, that we either did or didn’t do something; if we’d only done that instead of this. “What did I do?”, “Am I so bad?”, “I don’t deserve this.” Trust me when I tell you that I’ve gone through the gamut of emotions and questions.
I don’t have all the answers, but let me tell you some things that have helped me. The first is it’s okay to ask “why.” I believe God is big enough to handle the question. I believe it’s all right to say “this sucks,” and “I don’t like it.” I think God is big enough to handle our anger, pain, and frustration. I think to deny what we feel is to deny our humanity, but even more than that I believe that God desires for us to come to Him with these things. I don’t believe that my suffering with pain is God’s way of saying, “I’m going to get you. I’m going to make you pay.” I don’t believe God in Heaven is up there just waiting to pick people off.
If that were the case, why did He send His son to die for our sins? Why take our guilt and shame upon himself? If God were to do such things and to treat people in that way where would His justice, mercy, and compassion be? The reason why Jesus died was to put an end to our suffering, our guilt and shame, and even death itself.
I don’t pretend to know or have all the answers. I’m not going to try to explain God or why He does what He does, or allows what He allows. I don’t know, and neither will you. There are some questions we will never know the answer to in this life, and that’s all there is to it. The thing that gives me hope, the reason I have faith is that God has revealed Himself to me in His work in and through my life. I have experienced His love and grace firsthand. I know where I was, I know where I am now, and I know where I will be, and I know He walks with me every step of the way.