As I mentioned in my last post, after my Liver transplant I became consumed with ‘why’? I felt like if I knew why God allowed this, then somehow I would be able to accept what happened. I was convinced that after I had the answer, I would have peace and I could move on with my life.
I thought I was in the “right place” to find the answers I was looking for. I was at a bible college. I added the emphasis for sarcasm because it seemed people at bible colleges loved to analyze and give answers to the age old question of why do bad things happen to good people.
[I want to take a pause here and acknowledge something. As I continue in this series, I want you to know that I’m not going to discuss whether or not I believe God caused this to happen. I’m not going to engage in the debate between free will and God’s sovereignty. In my search to understand ‘why’, it didn’t really matter which way I leaned on the issue, I still struggled. I believe that God is powerful enough that he could have stopped it. Knowing that was enough for me to continue to demand answers from God.]
Back to my story. As I mentioned, the people around me had a lot of answers for me. Here are a few common ones I heard .
- God allows bad things to happen so that people can see his power and glory. The story of Lazarus is the prime example. Lazarus’s sisters came to Jesus begging him to come and heal Lazarus. John 11:4 tells us that ““When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’”
For a while this answer worked for me. I identified closely with Lazarus. People went before God pleading (like Lazarus’s sisters) that he would save me. God waited until the last minute to provide me a Liver (if you read the whole story, God seemed to have waited even a little past the last minute with Lazarus). Because of how close a call it was, people were in awe of God’s power and ability to perform miracles (for both Lazarus and me). God was glorified. At first I reveled in being a miracle, I was a modern day Lazarus. I was super good at being a miracle. I would go to churches and people would stand up and clap for me.
But it didn’t last. Have you noticed that no one ever talks about Lazarus afterward? I would love to talk to him. I have personally found being a miracle very hard. And as much as I was grateful and in awe of God’s miracle, people’s interest faded quickly. The pain I was experiencing didn’t feel worth the fading awe that people had toward God and me.
- God allows bad things to happen to good people because God uses it to develop perseverance and character. I don’t know how many times I heard James 1:2-4 quoted to me. It states “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.”
I think we can all recognize that this is true. Most of the time we are stronger on the other side of the struggle. I don’t know about you, but when trials stack up long enough, joy isn’t my primary emotion.
- God sees the big picture. Each human has an important role to play in the world, but we each only have one role. God sees the whole picture. Our actions and experiences have ripple effects. Our struggles could lead to someone else’s victory.
I believe all these answers are true. For short seasons they would satisfy my deep longing to understand ‘why’. But none of them brought lasting rest to my search for answers.
Even in recent years, I’ve continued to cry out to God over this. Then one day I felt confronted in my spirit with some tough questions from God:
“What answer can I give you that will satisfy your soul?”
“What if you don’t ever really know why?”
Yikes. I felt like God was asking me, “Do you love me enough to follow and trust me even if you don’t understand it all?”
It took me a while, but after years of chasing after ‘why’, I surrendered. I surrendered my ‘why’ to God. And I’ve had to do it each day sense.
I came to a place where I started to accept that I would never really know ‘why’ certain things happened. But that was okay, because I could trust in the one who did.
Friends, it took me SO long to get to this place. This depth of surrender does not happen overnight nor is a one time event. I don’t want to make something sound simple that is not. I would love to join you on your journey to get to this place. It might take awhile, but I’m in. Throughout this week, I am going to post daily follow up questions and practical tips of what it means to surrender your ‘why’? I won’t be posting these on social media, so make sure to subscribe to my blog at Lisadschmidt.com to get updates when I post.
Because there is more,