Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Monday, September 9, 2013

Not Why, But How

Joni Eareckson’s recent book, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God’s Sovereignty, makes this simple, elegant point: (My paraphrasing)

Perhaps why is a question best left alone, with its abundant hair pin turns to nowhere.  The better question is how.

Not “Why did God’s cosmic plan include Joni Eareckson breaking her neck and landing in a wheelchair for the past 40 years?”  But how does she live a life of spiritual power, strength and hope in the everyday of helplessness? 

Not “Why was your first child born with Autism, unable to communicate or care for himself for a lifetime?”  But how do you live in a place of continued hope for healing alongside acceptance of what is for now without becoming bitter?

Not “Why doesn't my husband love me?”, but how do I keep loving him, keep getting up in the morning, keep doing the next right thing and in so doing bring glory to God and help to your fellow man?

Not “Why am I afflicted with a stubborn, impenetrable depression?”, but how do I give and receive the love and grace of Christ when I am bone weary and can’t lift my head off the pillow?

These are practical questions.  Why leaves us solving one of those Rubik’s cubes that hurt your head and neck after a while.  How is like getting the flour out of the cupboard to make the cupcakes.  Then getting the sugar.  Then the butter.  How is following the instructions of the original baker to produce something good in the day.  How is the living of life in the unanswerable, mysterious Valley of Why.

Fill in your own why.  It’s OK to ask.  We all ask.  Some folks even get an answer, or part of one.  But not most people.  Most why’s are buried in the hidden sands of God’s sovereign understanding.  These are the hard things to be thankful for.  These are the serious places of testing and trial that require faith.  To quote an old adage, these are what separate the men from the boys.

The Joni Eareckson's of the world give me courage in the why’s of my own life.

Today, I’m asking the Holy Spirit HOW?  That's a question He'll always answer.  Show me how to love my neighbor who’s so terribly depressed after losing her husband, when what I really want to do is put on the TV.  Show me how to be kind to the people I work with, when the pain from a compressed disk makes me feel mean.  Lay out my day and make clear how I should prioritize the thousand tasks that call my name.  Most of all, strengthen me in the how of being grateful, even for the sufferings, the pain, and the ongoing uphill climb of the deepest heartache of my life.

This verse made me happy like sunflowers this morning:

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”  Isaiah 40:4 (KJV)

These mysteries of why will be sorted out for sure. 

We’re pilgrims and strangers here for 5 minutes. 

 Pretty soon, there will be no more whys.

The crooked back of my friend’s daughter with CP will be made straight.  The rough, unjust places of a drunk driver run amok and creating a lifetime of trouble will be made plain.  Every mountain and hill of sorrow and relational pain and broken bodies will be made low.

For now, I’m not asking why. 

I’m asking for insight and grace for you and me to do the how.

Go make some cupcakes.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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