On my way to a singles’ potluck dinner, I was reveling in the new car smell of my much loved two-week-old car. Suddenly, out of my peripheral vision, I saw a car lose control and barrel down the cross street I was passing, so I sped up to avoid being hit. After all, I had already been in three accidents—none my fault—in the last two years and finally had gotten rid of the car that seemed to be an accident magnet. “Not this car!” I thought as the car behind me was hit and then propelled into mine.
Story break: How often do I ask that? Most of the time the circumstances are not as dramatic as a car wreck. The babysitter cancels. The gas tank is low. Traffic is backed up. The printer jams. Stop for a minute and think with me of the last time “Why me?” crossed your lips, or at least, your mind. One of my last tirades was as a just-purchased iced tea turned over onto the floor of my car. Really? That made me ask, . . .
It was all I could think as I watched my new car be towed away like its predecessor, the last time just five months before. God, why me, again?
Once the family friends who had (providentially) witnessed the wreck took me home, and I called my family and singles group to tell them what had happened, then I plopped on my bed and begrudgingly grabbed my Bible to look for some sort of understanding and comfort. I thought the Book of Job would be a good place to start, since I felt I had a lot in common with the patriarch.
My Bible fell open and (for real!) my gaze fell upon Job 23:10: “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (NASB). Though the thought of being tried by God was not in itself comforting, the words surrounding it were. “He knows.” God knew what happened. He was there. He hadn’t abandoned me to fate. And “I shall come forth as gold”! It was part of His plan for me, and so were and have been and will be those other times I cry, “Why me?” It often hurts, but He’s polishing me to be His treasure.
He teaches us to expect the polishing―and its results. James 1:2-4 tells us to “Count it all joy, when you meet trials of various (major or minor) kinds,” because it “produces endurance” which will lead to our becoming “perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (NASB, see also Rom. 5:3-5, 2 Cor. 4:17). The theological term is sanctification. The period between acknowledging and accepting Christ as our only hope (justification) and our going home to heaven (glorification) is the sculpting and molding and polishing which makes us more like Christ.
But how can I ever be like Christ? I keep failing. I’m the impatient, self-centered, caffeine-addicted diva who ranted about a Chick-Fil-A tea spilling. Why would God want me for His treasure?
Scripture never answers “why me?” directly, but it does remind us numerous times that we are not God. He alone knows why, and as in all things, it is for His glory, not ours. Throughout his letters, Paul discloses to his readers there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn God’s favor, to make Him choose us—or even to make Him throw us away (Rom. 9:14-16, Eph. 1:5; 2:4-10, Phil. 2:13, 1 Tim. 1:15-16).
God’s entire word reassures us of His love and grace and mercy. The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love . . . He does not treat us as our sins deserve . . . for He knows how we are formed, . . . He remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:8, 10, 14).
“He remembers that we are dust.” Yes, I am, and yet He has chosen to love this speck of dust, adopt me as His child, and make me His treasure. Not only does He declare it in Scripture, but God also illustrates this truth in nature. Every gem starts as a fleck, a speck, an atom. Only after irritation and heat and pressure over considerable time is a precious gem formed. Yet not every speck becomes a gem. Not everyone becomes a son or daughter. Thus, we are to be grateful not only for our salvation, but also for the sanctification which sometimes includes fire and pressure to the breaking point as well as gentle polishing.
“For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29).
Lord, I pray the next time “Why me?!” comes to my mind, please stop me from accepting the invitation to the pity party. Turn my eyes away from myself and towards Calvary. Lead me, instead, to humbly ponder “Why me?!” in the light of Your mercy and grace. Amen.
About the Author:
Marlys Roos is the publications coordinator for CDM. She and her family are members of Perimeter Church in Atlanta.