It seems to me that many questions beginning with the word “Why” require the questioner to do no more than think, while questions beginning with the word “How” often require the questioner to take action. That is probably why I prefer “Why” questions to “How” questions most of the time.
Right now a force of thousands of angry, marauding terrorists is summarily beheading, crucifying and otherwise killing anyone who gets in its way in Iraq. At the same time, the whole world is quaking at the threat of the Ebola virus, which is cropping up in new places every day. Compassionate people are sickened to realize that people in some third-world countries have no option but to drink the same water in which cattle have urinated, defecated, and even died. We hear horror stories about elderly people in this country having to choose each month between buying food and buying medicine.
Why do all of these lamentable conditions exist? Why isn’t someone doing something? Why does God not step in and put an end to suffering and injustice? Why can’t everyone enjoy peace, prosperity, and health? Why is the whole world so out of balance?
Pondering such “Why” questions leads me every time to the same answers. (1) These conditions exist because we live in a fallen world. Satan, though limited somewhat in the menace he can create, is having a heyday. (2) These conditions exist because people are free to do whatever they want to do as long as they can find a way to do it. People find ways to do some horrible things. (3) These conditions exist because most people in the world have rejected Jesus, who is the answer to every question, and Jesus refuses to force His way into anyone’s heart, thinking, or decision-making.
That is about as far as I can go in answering the “Why” questions. My answers give me no peace. I remain heartsick over the conditions outlined above.
My only hope of feeling any better, of obtaining any peace or sense of offering help lies in my willingness to answer some “How” questions.
- How am I to respond to a God who maintains control and does not always act in ways that make sense to me? Answer: I am to respond by trusting His promises and by arming myself daily with Scriptures that reassure me of His infinite love for all people and His ultimate goal of saving the lost.
- How can I make a difference amid all the chaos, sadness and depravity surrounding me? Answer: I can make a difference by knowing, standing for, and proclaiming the truth. I can make a difference by serving, befriending, ministering to, praying for, and loving to the best of my ability everyone in my sphere of influence.
- How can I protect myself and the people I love from falling victim to all the dangers that threaten us? Answer: I can protect myself and others from some of the dangers some of the time by being well-informed, attentive, diligent, and prayerful. I can’t protect anyone from everything.
- How can I keep from being overwhelmed with despair, worry and sadness? Answer: I can keep from being overwhelmed by the existence of evil by choosing to think about those things that are pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8)
- How can I stop asking the “Why” questions? Answer: Start asking the “How” questions and acting upon the answers to them.