I didn’t even plan this pregnancy. Why is God letting me miscarry?
When my high school daughter finally found a group of friends, why is God moving our family out of state?
Why would God give me a desire to marry and not introduce me to “Mr. Right?”
This doesn’t make sense.
I find myself thinking this a lot as I listen to friends’ stories or hear the voice in my head, but why would God do it this way? I don’t understand.
And, I’m not struggling with the big questions like Why is there evil? Why does God let bad things happen? Is God really in control? I accept He’s sovereign and that I don’t understand how all the bad things work together for good (Romans 8:28). He’s given me this acceptance and that gets me through a lot of fear. But I still scratch my head and, like Alanis Morissette’s song, “Isn’t It Ironic,” I wonder…
Why This Way, Lord?
Maybe it’s a fault of Christians today to squint to see a silver lining while experiencing bad. Or, like my husband and I, guess what’s about to take place in our favorite Netflix drama before it happens; we try to guess what God is doing in the dramas around us. We want to be smart enough to figure out the mystery; we want to understand God’s ways. And so, when we encounter a weird real life plot line, we are shocked that the story is unfolding in a way that doesn’t entertain us at all. We think,
Why did God do that???
In these moments I think about the ostrich. Many of us turn to Job in the Old Testament when life falls apart. And tucked into Job 39 is the key to me accepting that not only are God’s ways not my ways (Isaiah 55:8), but they can be pretty ironic, too.
“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare with the wings and feathers of the stork. She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain, for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense. Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider. (Job 39:13-18)
I ask, why would God make a bird that can’t fly?
Isn’t that what a bird is created to do? It’s a basic assumption that a bird with feathers will soar. Yet, the ostrich can’t. All those feathers and no air. And the next thing any bird does, the ostrich doesn’t seem to get either—sitting on her eggs, waiting for them to hatch. Does she make a proper nest so her young will be safe and warm? No. She lays her eggs on the ground. She’s so absentminded she may even step on them —if predators don’t eat them first. She is a terrible mama-bird. God even says that He didn’t give her the sense to know better.
Yet, the ostrich teaches me an amazing truth.
What is the beauty of this bird that can’t fly or take care of her own eggs? She runs and she runs fast. Effortlessly, her speed puts the horse to shame. The key to her story is that her story does make sense. She is doing exactly what she was created to do: give her Creator glory. The glory of the ironic. This helps me in the moments of,
Why would God take my friend to a city only to be fired?
Why would God give my daughter a cancer diagnosis a month after her wedding?
Why does a widow’s car break down the week after her husband dies?
Why does He write things into our stories that just don’t make sense? That doesn’t fit the plot we enjoy watching? But after considering the ostrich of Job 39:18, when I hear of a crazy story and the question, “why would God do that?” pops to mind, now I think instead, He is making an ostrich move. He creates the kind of plot that can only bring wonder and amazement. And my eyes catch God’s incredulous story writing.
And, the ostrich gives me comfort.
Actually, we should identify with the dumb, awkward bird that screws up her family…more so than the mighty horse, disciplined and beautiful…more so than the stork, the Mary Poppins of the Animal Kingdom. We mess up; we stomp on our family. We don’t love well or act nobly. We don’t soar. And, God loves us anyway? Bottom line, our salvation story doesn’t make sense. Even angels have trouble understanding the mystery of our salvation (I Peter 1:12). It’s the biggest irony of all.
Which makes for a great page-turner. Our race towards the prize (Philippians 3:14-16) is what glorifies God. The fact that we, nitwit birds that we are, can run the spiritual race He equips us to run (Hebrews 12:1) is a glory to our Maker. Because in our goofiness—our version of the ostrich’s ugly wings that don’t fly and eggs we’ve stepped on along the way—our race puts the spotlight on HIM.
Is that enough for us? Is that what we want for our story? Or, do we want the story and fame to spotlight us? Are we more comfortable with a story line we understand more so than a story that brings attention to God? And, do we get the joke? Are we laughing in amazement over our salvation and just how crazy our God is when it comes to giving good things to undeserving men and women?
Why does God make a bird that can’t fly?
I relax and find peace in this answer—I have no idea. I can’t read God’s mind (Romans 11:34). But I can enjoy the beauty of a paradox—of a bird that can’t fly but runs like the wind. I can enjoy that He uses my weaknesses to teach others of His strength. I can accept the ironies of His story writing and watch as His big story unfolds, twists, and turns. And, like the ostrich, I can tilt my head back and enjoy.
About the Author:
Susan Tyner recently moved to Fort Worth from Oxford, MS, where she worked as the Coordinator of Women’s Ministry at Christ Presbyterian Church and enjoyed her role as Mid-South Regional Advisor. She continues to serve as an Advisor to the RUF Permanent Committee. Although this is a year of transition for Susan, she already enjoys Texas and looks forward to what God has planned for her family there. Her husband Lee and she have five children and an almost empty nest. Between unpacking boxes, you can find Susan cooking, dancing in a gym class, or doing (less) laundry.