Filed under “Why?”

There is a file in my brain and heart with the label “Why?” It’s where I file the tragedies that make no sense. Some of these tragedies happened to people close to me, others far removed — but no matter. The thing they share is the “why?” 

The file started when I was young. Why did Lizzy Hover’s dad die?  Why did the little baby from the sweeper colony die from a freak accident? 

Growing up, we faced many tragedies,  And one of the ways I chose to cope is to create this file.  The file grew as I grew. Why did my friend lose her husband on their honeymoon? Why did Amy Jo die!? Why did  a beloved pastor fall to his death in Cairo?  Why did my brother face such extreme loss at such a young age? 

And then there’s the looking back in time. Why the massacre of the innocents by Herod?  The weeping and grief of mothers captured by an artist in the 16th century, a brutal reminder that has lasted through the centuries. 

The file sometimes stays closed for a long time, and then it opens again with an angry roar. That’s what it did yesterday. A young man, new husband, newer father dies. It makes no sense. The tears flow for his young wife and the child who will know him only through pictures. 

I put these things in the “why” file because they make no sense to me. Discussions on a broken world, on evil, on the goodness of God don’t help. 

The only thing that helps is the face of Jesus, God incarnate. It is the icon of the Pantocrator that I weep before. “He had compassion on the crowds,” I’m told. And I beg for his compassion, his mercy. 

A poem from long ago comes to mind and I alternate between that and the Jesus Prayer. 

“I lay my ‘whys’ before your cross, in worship, kneeling. My mind beyond all thought, my heart beyond all feeling. And in worshiping realize that I, in knowing You, don’t need a ‘why?’ “

The file stays, and it won’t be open until I see the one who can make sense of all of it. Until then, I’m allowed to grieve, I’m allowed to weep, I’m allowed to lament. And I’m allowed to have a file labeled “why?”  Because at the feet of Jesus, it will all make sense. And I stake my life on that. 

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

7 thoughts on “Filed under “Why?”

  1. I have one of those files too, Marilyn. Occasionally I’ll say, that’s another thing I’m going to ask! My main problem is those events that don’t seem fair. The good and decent father who never smoked but gets lung cancer. The loving grandmother who discovers she is riddled with cancer just as her daughter moves home from 25 years abroad to enjoy her constant company instead of just a couple of months during the summer. The child who drowns in what should have been a safe environment. Anybody who dies too young for that matter! And don’t get me started on the inequalities of this world where some of us can feast and others must scrounge for their next morsel to eat or must walk miles just to get water for their daily needs.

    But I’m sure your mom is right. Once we are face to face, all those questions won’t even matter. That’s what I try to hold onto when the whys overwhelm me.

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  2. I like this. I feel better if I can bring God my “whys”. I can question Him and cry out to Him with my distress. And, I don’t have to worry about the answers because I know that God will answer me – or not – but that I can trust Him in that. It helps me to let go and is a good part of the grieving and distress. But if I carry my “whys” around on the inside, they fester and my own efforts to answer these questions are unsatisfactory. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of pain and suffering in the world. That is why I need to run to Him with my cries and whys because it comforts me when I realize that even if I don’t know the answers, He does.

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  3. A line from an old hymn comes to mind:”We’ll understand it better by and by…” But the longer I live and the more I understand about God and His ways, I believe that there will be whys that may never be answered. And when we see Him face to face it won’t matter any more. Our faith, so small and lacking here, will be complete. What we will know is that God is goodness. So sorry,Marilyn, for this latest grief and loss. I’m wondering if it is anyone we know?

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  4. Reblogged this on courageandbeautyblog and commented:
    Over the last few months I have pondered this question a lot. Recently a good friend of mine died while mowing his yard. He was 62, not real young but young enough to start the questions of why?

    One of the things that really helps me sort thru all of this is Hebrews chapter 11 where it says “Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that –heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.” The Message

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  5. Over the last few months I have pondered this question a lot. Recently a good friend of mine died while mowing his yard. He was 62, not real young but young enough to start the questions of why?

    One of the things that really helps me sort thru all of this is Hebrews chapter 11 where it says “Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that –heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.” The Message

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