When You Long to Know the “Why” Behind Your Sorrow

When You Long to Know the “Why” Behind Your Sorrow

Instead of searching for the reasons for your tragedy, look to the character of God—all the things he has revealed about himself. Where your temptation may be to interpret God through what you know about your tragedy, it is infinitely more important to interpret your tragedy through what you know about God. So as you endure your time of suffering, bring to mind the glorious reality of who God is and what God has done. 

We have a natural longing to know why. It is the question a child first asks her parents. It is the question an inquisitive toddler asks at every turn. It is the question that has spurred a world of exploration, invention, and innovation. Why?

It is no surprise, then, that when we encounter troubles, when we experience tragedies, and when we find ourselves in situations that grieve us, we ask why. When the pain comes upon us and cannot be dulled, when the illness takes over our bodies and cannot be cured, when sorrow settles deep within us and cannot be comforted, we want to know the reasons. It is not hard to see what has happened—the evidence is stamped upon our bodies, imprinted upon our souls, and etched upon our minds. But it’s very hard to see why it has happened. Why would God allow this unremitting pain? Why would God permit this distressing sickness? Why would God take that person I love? If God cares and God loves and if God ordains and God controls, why would this be his will? How could this ever make sense?

Yet the answers are rarely forthcoming. We may know the general answers—“all things work for good” and “for my name’s sake” and find some comfort in them. But when we scour the Scriptures and devote ourselves to prayer in search of the particulars—or even go further and appeal to prophecies, coincidences, or inner feelings—we are met with silence or uncertainty.

I offer four responses to those who long to know the why to their sorrow or their suffering, their time of illness or of loss.

The first is to trust God with it. You have been graciously saved by faith—faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ. Yet faith is not a one-time reality—“express it and forget it.” You need faith for all of life. This faith calls you to not merely entrust your soul to God, but also your life, your times, your health, your loved ones, and everything else. “God, I have trusted you for salvation,” you may pray, “and now I trust you with my suffering.” If you can confidently place your soul in his hands, so too your health, your safety, your children, and all you count dear.

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