‘WHY?’ QUESTIONS No.1
The Old Testament is a rich source of human experience and especially experience in respect of God. Human life is full of questions and so in this new series we will consider a wide variety of questions raised by people from the Old Testament, that people still ask today.
Gen 25:22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?”
Life in this Fallen World often seems a roller coaster. One minute it is the slow climb to the heights of blessing, which is followed by a period of peace and you rejoice in the goodness of God and how wonderful life is. The next minute you are on the downward rush and everything seems out of control and you find yourself screaming (inwardly at least), “God where are you? Why is this happening to me?” Uncertainty is a most common characteristic of this world. This is not being pessimistic to say this; it is just being realistic, for this is just how life is. It is a mix of ups and downs.
Gen 25:21-24 reveals a classic ‘roller coaster of events. Let’s check it out. It’s the story of Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Isaac is forty when he marries Rebekah (v.20) and sixty when she has her children (v.26), so they waited twenty years for her to conceive. That’s a long time and in that time it is easy to lose hope and give up the thought of ever having children. Now we are not told a great deal about Isaac in the Bible but one thing we should note: “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren.” (v.21a). We aren’t told when he started praying but it would appear that he probably prayed for a long time before we find, “The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” (v.21b). Now these two things put this pregnancy on a special footing. As far as they were possibly concerned, it was just a nuisance to have to wait that long, but the reality was that this was not just a normal, casual pregnancy; this was a pregnancy that for some reason had been held back until God stepped in and enabled Rebekah to conceive. There has now a divine element to it which is significant.
Now we have to remember that this was not a day when they had scans and were able to see what was going on in the womb. All Rebekah knows is that she is now pregnant and then suddenly it’s not just a case of “The baby is kicking!” but there seems total turmoil within her. Suddenly she is concerned and suddenly we arrive at the question with which we start this series: “Why is this happening to me?” [No superficial answers – “Because you’re pregnant!” No she wants to know what is going on and why.]
Unfortunately it is so easy to read these things and skim over the words without taking in what is going on. It is the cry in the face of unexpected and upsetting circumstances. We are not omniscient like God, and so we don’t know everything; we don’t know why this is happening and we don’t know where it is leading, so it leaves us in a place of concern. That is a very gentle way of putting it! Actually sometimes the circumstances can bring extreme anxiety with them. It’s funny really, when we cry, “Why?” it almost assumes there has got to be a clear reason or purpose behind what it going on. We actually don’t think things happen randomly. We believe that actions have consequences and if we are suffering the consequences we want to know what brought this about.
If the circumstances are illness, accident, infirmity etc. our cry might be, “Why me?” which implies, why I have I been picked out for this to happen to? Now do you see that there is implied here, a hand behind what is happening. If life was pure blind chance, such questions are meaningless, but we ask them because we don’t want it to be that. Solomon had a sense of this when he wrote: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Eccles 3:11). What he was saying was that God has put something in us that has a sense that there is more to life than this materialistic moment. We have a sense that there is something much more yet, when we struggle to reason it out on our own, we cannot see it. Oh yes, every cry of “Why?” implies a rational reason, a reason that suggests there is a purpose to what is going on – and I don’t know what it is!
Now Rebekah is an excellent example to us. If we can face the implications of our cry, then Rebekah’s response is the only response, the logical response: “So she went to inquire of the LORD.” (v.22). If God is behind this, why not ask Him what He’s doing? Then see something beautiful: “The LORD said to her….” (v.23). She gets an answer! The Lord explains to her, somehow, what is going on. There are two boys struggling within her, not one. Suddenly Rebekah is no longer on the outside, she is on the inside of understanding, she knows what God knows, she knows this is God’s activity. He’s on her case!
So, can we recap? When circumstances occur that are unexpected and upsetting, and we cry, “Why?” realize that you are assuming there is a rational explanation for them, there is a hand behind them, and that hand must be God. Now if that is true and God has a purpose for my life, then it must include what is going on, and the obvious thing to do is ask Him about what is happening. And if you ask what is happening, expect an answer. Take time to sit quietly before the Lord and ask and listen, and dare to believe you are getting an answer. Sometimes the answer may take a while to come, or perhaps it may take a while for your way of thinking to be changed so that you can hear and take in God’s answer, but it will come. How do I know that? Because he’s said so! “Ask (and go on asking) and it will be given to you.” (Mt 7:7). So, talk to the Lord about your, “Why?” and expect an answer!