Children, with their curious, impressionable minds, are known for questioning things, including parental instructions. “Why?” and “How come?” are soon part of their limited vocabulary. Part of the motivation is just to learn what this new, amazing world around them is all about, but another motivation comes from our old, sinful, rebellious nature, challenging authority.
Whenever we begin a question with “why,” we need to realize that the answer must necessarily be theological, not scientific. Science can deal with the questions of “what” and “how,” and sometimes even with “where” and “when,” but never with “why!” “Why” questions have to do with motives and purposes, even when dealing with natural phenomena. (“Why does the earth spin on its axis and why is that axis tilted a certain amount?” “Why do we have mosquitos and poisonous snakes?”) Even though we we can partially explain such things by secondary causes, we finally encounter a “first cause,” and then the “why?” can only be answered by God, the only “uncaused cause” in the universe.
It is not only children who ask “why?” As adults we often question why things happen to us. Who, at one time or another, has not questioned God? Many wonder, “If God is loving and all-powerful, why is there evil and suffering in the world?” “Why are believers killed for their faith?” “Why didn’t God stop the Jewish Holocaust from happening?” Our “Why?” questions are probably just as frequent as those of little children!
In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Ro. 9:20). After all the terrible things happened to Job in the Old Testament, “his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks, Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ ” (Job. 2:9,10). Later, after Job expresses his hopeless condition, Elihu, a descendant of Buz, the nephew of Abraham (Gen. 22:21), having apparently witnessed the entire confrontation between Job and his three friends, could restrain himself no longer from speaking (Job 32:18) and said to Job, “Why do you complain against Him (God), that He does not give an account of all His doings” (Job 33:13).
The wise thing to do is simply to believe that He has good reasons for everything, whether we can discern them now or not. When the LORD appeared to Abraham to tell of the coming birth of a son to Sarah and also to warn of the destruction of Sodom for its wickedness, Abraham pleaded for any righteous that were living there. (His nephew, Lot, and family resided there.) Abraham argued, “Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Gen. 18:25). The answer, of course, is “Yes!” But, we don’t always understand His actions at the time. Some things, according to our finite human thinking, just do not make sense. But, God says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8). The Psalmist, who often questioned God’s action or lack thereof, or His timing, also wrote: “As for God, His way is blameless (perfect)!” (Psa. 18:30). “God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psa. 115:3). The Apostle Paul wrote, in reference to the purposes of God, “who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11), and what He does is always right and just, even though we–in our mortal bodies on this side of glory–cannot fully understand “why.”
It is our high privilege simply to trust Him, not to question Him. Paul gives us some insight in his letter to the Romans: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Ro. 8:28-30). Romans 8:28 isn’t complete without reading the next two verses which explain what God is doing with the “all things”–good and bad in our lives–conforming us to the image of Christ, and in that process, God wastes none of the events in our lives, whether we understand the “why?” or not. He is God and we are not! As someone said, “When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.” Good advice!