Ep. 39 In times of struggle, asking WHY will drown you. Finding your WHAT will save you.  Today’s topic discusses what happens when life doesn’t go the way we expect, when things don’t turn out the way we want or hope. We’re talking about when stuff happens that just doesn’t make sense, or seems unfair, or is caused by other people’s cruelty or negligence. We’re talking accidents, mistakes, or being beaten by the odds.

In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.   

The most powerful thing that we can access during any challenge is our will to find the meaning in it. 

Victor Frankl

A Hard Topic

The purpose of today’s episode is NOT to tell you, that everything happens for a reason or  that God gave you this challenge so you could learn something or because you need to be humbled or it’s to test your faith. This episode is NOT going to say, “Look on the bright side,” or “Be positive,” or “Keep your chin up.”

I feel my job today is NOT to give answers or words of comfort (that probably wouldn’t comfort) or to cheer you up or to make you feel better. I feel my job today is only this: to offer PERSPECTIVE.

When you’re in the middle of a crisis, you have so many questions, decisions, emotions, and unknowns that it can be almost impossible to find any perspective, so I hope I can offer a little today.

Hard Questions

  • Why do some kids get sick and others don’t?
  • Why do some fathers die?
  • Why are some people inspired to to take a different road and thus avoid a car accident?
  • Why does it seem that some people are miraculously spared while other are not?
  • Does God pick and choose who stays and who goes?
  • Why Me? Why Us?
  • Why did God make this happen or allow this to happen?
  • Why didn’t God intervene and perform a miracle for me?
  • Why didn’t God prompt me to act sooner or act in a different way? 
  • What did I do wrong to deserve this? Why is God punishing me?

God Did Not Make This Happen

After his wife died from brain cancer eight months after diagnosis, Michael Wilcox questioned if God  appointed her to die. He concluded that God created the earth, granted us life and set the wheels in motion then for the most part lets things play out. Life appoints. Mortality appoints. Life happens. Time happens. Occasionally the Lord intervenes, delays, prolongs, but mostly He allows life to happen. 

Michael Wilcox said, “I felt the Lord weep with us, sharing our sorrow, saying, ‘I wish she didn’t have to have cancer. I wish you could travel the world together now that you’ve retired. I can’t heal everyone who gets cancer or who gets in a car accident.’ God didn’t appoint her to die. Cancer appointed her to die.”

For me, I don’t believe every specific thing happens for a reason.  The only reason is that we are alive, we are mortal, and so we are susceptible to mortal experience, to genetics, to environment, to accidents, short-sightedness, evil acts, and mistakes. The only reason is that we are here, on this earth, having a mortal experience.

The way I see it, challenges come as a natural consequence of being alive and bumping into each other. I don’t believe that God plays us like chess pieces. Please don’t misunderstand because I do believe, very much, that God knows us, that He knows me. He is 100% aware of what I’m experiencing. I believe that angels are involved in the intricate details of my life. BUT, I do not believe they are here to interfere. I believe they are bound by natural laws that allows them or prevents them from getting involved. 

The Miracle is NOT What you Think

Kate Braestrup is a chaplain to the state of Maine’s Warden Service. Her job is to be there while Search and Rescue hunt for missing people. She has had a lot of opportunities to ask and answer questions: Why was this child found alive while I have to go tell this family that their child’s body was found at the bottom of the lake? 

Kate shares her experiences in her beautifully written book, Here If You Need Me. She writes exquisitely about the difference between miracles and odds. On the podcast I quote from chapter 16. 

There is no WHY, Only WHAT

In times of crisis, dwelling on the WHY will drown you. Finding the WHAT will save you. 

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