I bet when we have a chance to ask God what the most popular question he is asked is, he will tell us it is the question, “Why?”
Even Christians with complete faith in God wonder “why” when things happen that we can’t explain or understand. And even when we’re holding on to the Romans 8:28 promise that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those that love him and are called according to his purpose“, we still wish we could see what God sees. That we could know what God knows.
Over the years as I’ve drawn closer to God, I’ve noticed that he tends to reveal things in little bite-sized pieces…over time. Sometimes we may not even realize that something we read in the Bible or experience in our life will be useful someday. And much like some of the lessons we learned in our highschool textbooks, we will suddenly recall that information when a situation arises in our life.
Even Jesus’ disciples, who spent every day with him for three years, didn’t always understand things in the moment. But as they spent time with him, he continued to show and to tell them things. Some of the lessons had immediate relevance, and some made no sense until later.
This was especially true when Jesus told them about why he had come. About how he would die and then rise again. Even though they knew he was the Messiah (Luke 9:20) that their Jewish Scriptures had spoken of, they could not fully understand what that meant.
I can picture the scene as Jesus foretold his future and urged them to remember what he was saying. I picture the disciples staring at him with confused looks on their faces wondering what in the world he was talking about.
Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power. While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it. (Luke 9:43-45 NLT)
“Its significance was hidden from them..” Knowing that this was happening to Jesus’ closest earthly friends, with him sitting right in front of them, can that change the way we view our circumstances? Especially the ones that we don’t understand. If we know that God is working everything for good…somehow…then can we have faith that, for the moment, the significance is being hidden from us?
So should we even ask God “why”, then? Of course! For one thing, God already knows we’re wondering. And also because if we continue to cry out to God (not out of lack of faith, but out of a genuine desire to know) – and if we continue to spend time in prayer and in the Bible – he may decide we’re ready for an answer. We have to be sure that we do not let our hearts get hardened by doubt, inhibiting our ability to understand. We must draw on all that God has revealed to us in our past – through his Word or through our experiences – and remember.
“Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? (Mark 8:17, 18 NLT)
Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. (John 16:4 NLT)
His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him. (John 12:16 NLT)
After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (John 2:22 NLT)