As parents, our thoughts about life become apparent to our kids and can influence them, whether we realize it or not. That reality is especially true during difficult times. In some ways, we can never prepare ourselves for those “worst case scenarios,” and if we try to imagine them and figure out what we’d do if they occurred, we’ll likely find ourselves in a puddle of anxiety and worry.
What we can do, however, is build up resilience along the smaller bumps along life’s road, checking our thoughts and coping mechanisms carefully and re-directing ourselves as needed. One category of thoughts we need to check is the questions that we’re asking.
That Stubborn Question, “Why?”
We all do it, don’t we? Maybe it takes on an extra word, such as in “Why me?” or “Why this?” or “Why now?” While not quite “Woe is me,” that’s the general idea. We don’t really want to know why, after all, do we? Instead of asking why, let’s be honest about the “Who?” Even if we haven’t directed our “Why?” toward Heaven, that is where it belongs, since God sovereignly directs all things. Even if our tone doesn’t take on the accusatory tone of “God, I really don’t appreciate this,” or “I don’t trust that you know what’s best,” that can often be the gist.
So my challenge to you is, first, to look behind the “Why?” and be honest about what you’d really like to say to God. (Warning: It will probably warrant repentance, if you’re like most of us!) The book of Job records a very godly man’s journey through deep waters, yet he grew frustrated with God. When he did, God rebuked Him, pointing out His all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal nature. When we remind ourselves of those truths, we can find peace, even when our “Why?” questions remain mysteries to us (Isaiah 26:3).
A New and Better Question
Instead of simply eliminating the question, perhaps we should replace it. I like this alternative: “How can I uniquely honor God and love others from this difficult place?” Since we aren’t promised answers to life’s mysteries this side of Heaven, the best we can do is grow and worship and love others through them. When we’re honest about how we’re tempted not to do so, we’ll be in a better place to create a to-do list or action-plan for trials.
I once heard someone refer to a list of God’s promises and other comforting verses of Scripture as her “Ark of Faith.” But let’s not forget that faith often involves action — for Noah, that likely meant close to a century of trusting God enough to obey Him. In the meantime, he had to endure cruelty and increased isolation from his community. Yet he followed the directions that God gave Him.
We’ll look at some other categories relating to our responses during difficulties in the next article in this series titled, Are you resolved?