We all know the favorite question of young children is “Why?” Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why do I have to eat this? Why do I have to go to bed?
The past year has been a year of “Why?” questions, often making us feel as helpless as young children. Why do we have to shut down? Why do we have to wear masks? Why are protests allowed when churches can’t meet? Why are they doing that? Why can’t things just be “normal”?
For me, personally, those questions have included Why did my sister die? Why couldn’t I be with her in the hospital? Why did they move so far away? Why wasn’t I a better sister?
If we gathered into books all the “Why?” questions from around the world from just that past year, much less throughout history, the number of volumes could be endless, as the apostle John noted at the end of his gospel about the works of Christ: “I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25b NASB).
It is comforting to know that even Solomon in his wisdom, also asked why. Ecclesiastes 7 sounds as if it could have been written during a period like ours. In verses 10 and 13-14, the author (traditionally believed to be Solomon) gives advice for us to heed today: “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. . . . Consider the work of God: who can make straight what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”
This is not a fatalistic view, but it does warn that no man, not even Solomon, is wise enough to know God’s ways. Ecclesiastes 8 concludes, “When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.”
Truly, God’s work in human history is immeasurable, more than mere humans can ever see or comprehend. But that doesn’t stop us from asking those “Why?” questions, does it? In fact, it seems to sometimes create them.
Why did God create Lucifer if He knew he would rebel? Why didn’t God just zap those rebellious angels when they rebelled? Why did He allow Adam and Eve to sin and mess up His perfect creation? Why is it taking Jesus so long to return?
We, like little children, want immediate answers and knowledge, but often that is not what God gives us, nor is it what He would have us learn. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8). Earlier in the chapter (v. 2), Isaiah records God’s question to us: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” In other words, why do we seek fulfillment from anything other than God?
Jesus addressed the same issue with those who wanted to make Him an earthly king after He had fed the five thousand: “But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you” (John 6:27 NLT). A few verses later, Jesus declares, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Again, why do we seek fulfillment from anything other than God?
After a year of pandemic, political rancor, and far too many unknowns, where will we turn for answers? The government? Social media? Friends and family? Or even the church?
Isaiah 55:3-7 tells us to go to God, to listen to Him, and to seek Him. Also in these verses are described God’s covenant of love and promise of glory to His people. Although I don’t understand why God chose me (but am very thankful He did!), I can certainly understand my desperate need for Him, and like a toddler, cry, “Abba, Father!” as I cling to Him out of need and love. I trust my Father knows me and loves me—even when I don’t understand His answers to “Why?”
About the Author:
Marlys Roos is the publications coordinator for CDM. She and her family are members of Perimeter Church in Atlanta.