Why It's Time to Change the Question

I've stared at this blank page for a long time trying to figure out how I could paint the picture without including details, but I can't. And so I won't.

You see once again I found myself asking "Why?" The rest of the question isn't really significant, I suppose. The beginning is what we all have in common. We've all asked "Why...?"

Do you think it's okay to ask God why? I do. David certainly asked God why. Job asked God why. Habakkuk asked God why.

God is not offended by our asking why. He understands that we crave the answers to that complex question. He knows that we believe that if we could just wrap our brains around why then we could breathe a sigh of relief, nod our heads in agreement and proceed forward in trust and contentment.

But He also knows we're wrong about that.

Having the answers to our why questions wouldn't give us peace; only drawing close God  in trusting prayer can give us the peace that surpasses even the knowledge of why.

And the peace of God (that supernatural, overwhelming and flowing peace), which surpasses (beats any day) all understanding (your ability to comprehend the situation or get a pulse for what's going on), shall guard (fortify and keep in check) your hearts (emotions) and mind (thoughts) in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

God's peace doesn't come as a result of understanding the whys; it trumps it. Still, we can ask. And we do.

I'm currently reading an amazing autobiographical book by Laura Story (yes, the artist behind the popular song "Blessings"). In her book When God Doesn't Fix It, Laura tells the eye-opening account of learning to cope and thrive in the life God carved out for her and her husband Martin following his diagnosis of a brain tumor. If anyone had a reason to ask God why, she did. And she did ask that very question.

But Laura shows us, through the biblical account in John 9:1-7, that eventually we have to allow Jesus to turn our whys to hows if we want to experience healing and hope.

The Biblical Lesson

In this passage, Jesus' disciples ask Him why a beggar was blind from birth. Was it due to his own sin or his parents'? The disciples are trying to make sense of a difficult, sad and confusing situation by understanding why it happened. Like us, they believe if they can just grasp why then they can nod their heads in agreement and have peace. But Jesus knows the answer to their question will not bring that kind of peace. He shifts the focus from why to how.

Jesus says, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed." Well that response would have just given me more whys to ask. But Jesus won't supply further details. He wants His disciples to see that the question should no longer be why, but how.
Truthfully I've been given the answers to some of my why questions. I imagine you have, too. As I've prayed and searched the scriptures and listened to wise counsel, sometimes God has opened my eyes to see the explanations I so craved.

But those answers didn't give me peace. They just sparked more questions.

Because, as Laura points out in her book, I can't see my situations clearly from God's perspective, I also can't see how the whys fit into His bigger picture. And even when I can nod my head in agreement with His plans, my heart still longs for things to be different. My heart continues to ask why.

Laura's Tool for Changing Your Questions...and Bringing Healing

I love practical theology. I love it when someone helps me apply biblical principles to my little ol' life. And that's what Laura does in When God Doesn't Fix It.

Laura suggests you take the time to write out all of your why questions on a sheet of paper. Fill it up! General and specific. Bold. Inquisitive. Rhetorical. Mysterious. Remember, God is not offended or put off by our why questions. So prayerfully and honestly pen them before Him.

But then Laura tells us to flip the sheet of paper over and write the how questions concerning our difficult situations. She gives some starter suggestions. The following come straight from the pages of her book:
Laura encourages us to write out any of the questions she's supplied which are appropriate, personalizing them to our own stories, but also to turn the why questions we've listed on the other side of the paper into new how questions. Intentionally shift your questions from why to how.

Just Do It!

I love it that Laura is pretty dogmatic in her book about the reader taking her advice and pulling out pen and paper. She writes, "stop and do it now. I'll wait right here until you get back." That's my kind of author.

And so I did it. I filled a page on the front with why questions and turned it over and changed those inquiries to how questions. 

And I felt a crazy, amazing shift in my heart and mind when I did.

I suggest you do the same. Whatever baffling situation is hammering at your mind right now, pull out a sheet of paper and write out your whys. But then flip the page and ask the hows. I think you'll find that the answers to the how questions come more readily. And while they may still demand that you bend the knee, the hope they supply will also get you back on your feet.

I love that Laura graciously tells her readers that it's okay to ask why. But she also gently prods us to turn those whys to hows as soon as we possibly can.

"I've discovered that the longer I focus on why,
 the less progress I make. 
When I continue to ask why, 
somewhere deep inside me the 
repeated questioning and lack of answers 
feeds a sense of entitlement. 
When that sense of entitlement grows, 
it usually leads to bitterness."
- Laura Story

"The answer to why doesn't help us heal. 
But knowing that God's glory can be displayed, 
even in the brokenness of our lives, 
gives us hope despite our circumstances. 
I promise you will find more 
purpose and joy in your life 
if you set aside the why 
and begin to ask how."
- Laura Story

Why I'm Sharing This

Sometimes I receive free books from publishers with the agreement that I will review them on my blog and on bookseller websites. Even then I give honest reviews.

But no one asked me to tell you about Laura's book. I just happened upon it at the bookstore the other day. But it has turned out to be a powerful, engaging and sensitive account of a personal story that will inspire and resonate with many. I simply wanted to share with you a little of what I'd learned from Laura. But I also encourage you to check her book out for yourself. I think it will shine new light and perspective on her hit song "Blessings," but it will also encourage you greatly.

Hey! Let me know if you try the exercise above and what you think. And let me know if you read Laura's book, and what you think about it as well. Blessings to you, dear friends!

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