From ‘Why’ to ‘How’

Nicholas Kristof put out a blog post yesterday that had me shaking and produced a visceral response of nausea from deep within my body. The post was a story of an 14-year-old girl from a small village in Bangladesh who died from a public beating administered to her after she was raped by an older man in the  community. The story is horrific and gut wrenching and the outrage I felt was immediate.

I posted it on my Facebook page and found equal outrage and dismay. But the question one of my friends asked is worth posting: “We can only cry out for God’s Kingdom to come. Soon. Until then how can/should we bring God’s mercy, healing, and justice?”

It was an important reminder to me. I was paralyzed in my response, but after stating the prayer of his heart, he asked the right question.  The one that I needed to challenge me to rise from my spectator viewpoint and think and pray the “How” prayer instead of the “Why” prayer. How can I be a channel for justice and mercy? How should I search and know truth in order to respond?

It was in this mindset that I went to a book that I have referenced in the past, A Faith and Culture Devotional,  I went to a chapter that I have read many times called “Theodicy”. The definition of the word is necessary to fully understand the chapters point. – noun a vindication of the divine attributes, particularly holiness and justice, in establishing or allowing the existence of physical and moral evil.

The 2-page devotional is part of an interview between Lee Strobel and Peter Kreeft and though every sentence is worth quoting, I was struck by the truth of the first illustration. Peter Kreeft is describing a cartoon on the door fo his office. He says this “On my door is a cartoon of two turtles. One says ‘Sometimes I’d like to ask why he allows poverty, famine, and injustice when he could just do something about it.’ The other turtle says ‘I’m afraid God might ask me the same question’.” Why this gave me comfort may seem strange, but it gave me comfort the way my friends response on Facebook did – it was a challenge to my actions and awareness, a reminder that sometimes when I ask ‘Why’, I may want to change the question to ‘How’.

Bloggers Note: A Faith & Culture Devotional is available at Amazon – it is a dynamic set of short essays with probing questions to help people work through some of the issues of our day.

Related Articles:

6 thoughts on “From ‘Why’ to ‘How’

  1. Thank you for this post. It was a difficult story to read and far more difficult to comprehend.
    How can we help…I shared the story…hoping this will help bring awareness of the challenges faced by so many in third world countries. It seems that so few want to know and I wonder if it is because there is this feeling of helplessness. The question you posed…How can we help is one to be addressed and even if raising awareness is all we can do… perhaps in some small way this helps. I would hope so.


  2. A curious thing about our scriptures. They never answer the question “why.” It is very annoying to the human species which is always looking to understand motive. Motive, however, does not ameliorate the outcome of this heinous atrocity. I rarely ask that question anymore. It is largely irrelevant.

    And then I remember we are talking about a culture in which some think such an action is not only reasonable, but honorable and divinely mandated. It is frightening and it hurts my heart.

    And it makes me feel so small in the world. I will think about which cause incites my passion. Then, I think it is time to do something that will make me an instrument of God’s grace in that area.

    Thanks, Marilyn.


    1. That’s exactly what Peter Kreeft goes on to say. He moves it into the story of Job where in Jobs questions of Why – God began to ask him questions. He talks about how if God started answering the problems of evil, Job would have come back over and over with more and more questions. Instead he answered the question with his very presence and that satisfied far deeper than answers would have. Thanks so for reading and commenting. It’s a hard world and a Big God. I’m also thinking more of being an instrument of grace.


  3. Thanks so much for reading. It was so hard to read Kristof’s post wasn’t it? It brings up the bigger problem of evil, which is not confined to any one country or culture.


  4. Marilyn,

    Thank you for this post. I felt deeply disturbed and infuriated upon reading that news story also. I hope we can reach within ourselves to overcome the ‘why’ and pull out the ‘how’.

    Best wishes!


Add to the discussion...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s