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'Why Me?'

Searching for Meaning in Suffering

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Why Me, God?
Photo: Photodisc / Getty Images

"Why Me?" is the first question we ask when tragedy strikes.

For some of us, the same question pops up when we have a flat tire. Or get a cold. Or get caught in a freak rain shower.

Why Me, God?

Somewhere along the way, we have become convinced that life should be all good, all the time. If you are a Christian, you may believe God should protect you from every hardship, large and small. God is good, so life should be fair.

But life isn't fair. You learn that lesson early from the schoolyard bully or a clique of cruel girls. Just about the time you forget, you're reminded with another painful lesson that hurts as much as it did when you were ten years old.

Why the Answer to "Why Me?" is Not Satisfying

From a biblical perspective, things started to go wrong with the Fall, but that's not a very satisfying answer when things go wrong with you, personally.

Even if we know the theological explanations, they bring no comfort in a hospital room or a funeral home. We want down to earth answers, not textbook theories about evil. We want to know why our own life is so miserable.

We can ask "Why Me?" until the Second Coming, but we never seem to get a response, at least one that brings understanding. We never feel the light bulb go on so we can say, "Ah, so that explains it," and then get on with our lives.

Instead, we're left groping with why so many bad things happen to us while godless people seem to prosper. We obey God to the best of our abilities, but things keep going wrong. What gives?

Why We Have Become Spoiled

It's not just that we think our life should be good because God is good. We have been conditioned in our western culture to have a low pain threshold, both physically and emotionally.

We have shelves full of pain relievers to choose from, and people who don't like those turn to alcohol or illegal drugs. TV commercials tell us to pamper ourselves. Any type of unpleasantness is treated like an affront to our happiness.

For most of us, famine, the ravages of war, and epidemics are images we watch on the news, not horrors we go through firsthand. We feel bad if our car is more than five years old.

When suffering hits, instead of asking "Why Me?", why don't we ask, "Why Not Me Too?"

Stumbling Toward Christian Maturity

It's become a cliché to say we learn our most valuable lessons in pain, not pleasure, but if we are serious about our Christianity, we eventually learn during our pain to keep our eyes on one thing and one thing only: Jesus Christ.

While physical pain can be overwhelming, it is not the most important thing in life. Jesus is. Experiencing financial loss can be devastating, but it is not all that matters. Jesus is. The death or loss of a loved one leaves an unbearable vacuum in your days and nights. But Jesus Christ is still there.

When we ask "Why Me?", we make our circumstances more important than Jesus. We forget the temporariness of this life and the eternity of life with him. Our hurt makes us overlook the fact that this life is preparation and heaven is the payoff.

That most mature of Christians, Paul of Tarsus, told us where to look: "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV)

It's hard to keep our eyes on the prize of Jesus, but he is what makes sense when nothing else does. When he said, "I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 14:6, NIV), he was showing us the path through all our "Why Me?" experiences.

Pain Can Only Delay Us

Suffering is so unfair. It kidnaps your attention and tries to force it to look at your pain. But there's something suffering cannot do. It cannot steal Jesus Christ from you.

You may be going through a terrible ordeal at this moment, such as divorce or unemployment or serious illness. You don't deserve it, but there's no way out. You have to keep going.

If you can manage, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to look beyond your suffering to your sure reward of eternal life with Jesus, you can make it through this journey. Pain may be an unavoidable detour, but it cannot keep you from reaching your final destination.

Some day, you will stand face to face with your Savior. You will gaze on the beauty of your new home, filled with never ending love. You will look at the nail scars in Jesus' hands.

You will know your unworthiness to be there, and filled with gratitude and humility, you will ask, "Why Me?"

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.

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