Christian Counseling: The Courage to Ask God, "Why?"

On a slightly chilly fall morning I was walking to my backyard shed when I became puzzled by long, black feathers sticking out from the middle of a tree trunk. I had trimmed the tree to the ground after it had been decapitated by a storm last year. In the middle of the stump a three inch hole was half filled with water. The feathers belonged to a lifeless Grackle face down in the water.  It fell into the hole looking for a drink, but was unable to loose itself before drowning. My first feeling was one of strong sorrow, as I enjoy taking care of them and other animals in my backyard. Then I thought, "What a useless death. Why did God forsake this bird in its moment of desperate need? He was aware of its plight as it struggled to live. Now He knows of its death. What is the point?"

I have witnessed the brutality of nature--wounded one-eyed birds, the repeated, panicky squeals of doves who were suddenly snatched from the ground by a swift hawk, and squirrels with broken legs who couldn't climb a tree to avert predators, as well as a couple who starved because a large growth in their mouths prevented them from eating. Aside from the hawk who killed to survive, the suffering and death of the remaining animals was useless, just useless.

I suppose I am much like most others who search for meaning in the circumstances of life. Pain and suffering seems more manageable when we can align it with a purpose or reason. If we can find an acceptable and believable rationale for a terrible situation, we feel better and it helps justify the cruelties and tragedies that daily afflict our world. Having a meaning or purpose seems to help us accept what frequently appears to be God's inactivity to save or spare innocent animals and sometimes people from useless misery and an untimely death. (Yes, I believe in untimely deaths and in untimely births, etc. God has generally appointed timings, but the timing of all things is not just in the hands of God alone--sin disrupts His desired timing.)

For those bold enough to sift their world of feelings, some would find they are angry, confused and disturbed with God about some of His decisions (or what seems to be) and inactivity. A few find the courage to talk to God about such things that disrupt the relationship. Those few brave souls who do are far from the mainstream who excuses God without working through the trouble. But this is exactly what God wants us to do—talk it out.

There are numerous Biblical characters who were angry or troubled with God—Moses in being asked to rescue the Hebrews from slavery, Jeremiah for God “deceiving” him, Jonah for God bringing salvation to the brutal Ninevites, Habakkuk when twice he questioned God about why the reversal—the wicked are blessed and the righteous suffer, Paul who couldn’t understand why God didn’t heal him, and Jesus who asked why He was forsaken on the cross. None of these Biblical characters can be found in Scripture to have sinned against God for their honest questions. Actually, some of them were encouraged to start talking (Jonah) and not keep silent.

When tragedies of life happen that don’t make any sense, yes, of course I may become angry with God and ask “Why?” I am not willing to simply internalize my troubling thoughts and feelings, but I don’t approach God disrespectfully or as if I know I am right and He is wrong. I have learned that which we avoid with God cannot be resolved, but instead will insidiously contribute to a slow disconnect from Him. To preserve the goodness of our relationship with God and its future, we must speak.

What do you need to ask God about? If you ask, hold on to your questions for as long as it takes; until you find a goodly amount of peace.

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