Growing Whys

31 days of writing, day 4
Today’s prompt: Why

Almost from the time we are able to speak, we begin to ask why. Parents of preschoolers can regale us with tales of their children repeatedly asking, “Why? Why? Why?”

Why is the sky blue?
Why are turtles so slow?
Why are sidewalks gray?
Why can’t I have ice cream for dinner?

As we grow older, our questions mature along with us. Presumably. In grade school, we ask, “why do I have to go to bed at 7:30?” In middle school, “why is my best friend ignoring me?” In high school, “why won’t she go out with me?”

Our development is intimately intertwined with attempting to make sense of the world  and our place in it. But as we press further into our confusion, clarity often dims. More and more often, our “whys” remain unanswered.

Too often, Christians dismiss why questions. We are supposed to have all of the answers, wrapped up in sparkly paper and finished with a bow. When people bring us their hurts we ask “have you prayed about it?” People muster their courage to share their fears and we respond “the Bible says don’t be afraid” or perhaps even “fearfulness is a sin.” Ugh.

But the biblical narrative reveals that God’s people were not afraid to ask why. Habakkuk asked “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?” (1:3). Jeremiah asked “Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” (15:18). Even Jesus, echoing David, pleaded “why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” (Psalm 22:1).

Premature answers and biblical platitudes often fail to comfort. People need to hear that God is strong enough to bear their pain. They need to understand that asking difficult questions is not a sign of faithlessness.

Maybe, if we live in the world of easy answers, we would do well to ask ourselves, “why?”

For reflection:

What questions are you afraid to bring before God? How do you respond when people share their difficulties with you? 

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