Why…?

Posted: February 27, 2012 by clairer in Uncategorized

Are you ever tempted to ask, “Why me?” I hate to admit it, but I am. I get sick right before a test…why me? One of my best friends moves away…why me? An application for a college, scholarship, or internship is turned down…why me? Awhile back, I was asking this question day after day as I felt like God was strategically stripping away everything of value in my life. Why me? There were some days when I felt like I was living my mini version of the book of Job. Job lost everything before his famous encounter with God in Job 38. He, too, asked “Why me?” But as I was reading through my Bible, I realized that, although Job is often highlighted for his suffering, this pattern is far from abnormal in the lives of those God chooses to serve Him.

Think of the heroes of the Bible – from Noah to Abraham to Jacob to Joseph to Moses to David to Daniel to Esther to Peter to Paul. These biblical heroes are often studied for God’s blessings on them or for the successes that God granted them. These heroes saved the Israelites from slavery, annihilation, and starvation. They were saved from angry Pharaohs, lions, and floods. They witnessed to the nations and performed miracles before thousands. But too often, I think we focus on these successes and blessings and forget how these heroes got into these situations in the first place.

Flip through the Bible, select a biblical hero, and nearly every time, you will see someone who lost everything before being used by God.

  • Noah watched the earth – his roots and his possessions – be swallowed by a flood.
  • Abraham was called to leave his home, his family, his gods, his lifestyle before God promised to make him a great nation.
  • Jacob fled from his home – abandoning his mother and father – with no possessions or friends, sleeping alone in the wilderness with a rock for a pillow.
  • Joseph was sold away from his family into slavery and entered Egypt with less than nothing.
  • Ruth’s husband died and she left her family and home to travel to Israel with her mother-in-law, Naomi.
  • David fled for his life from Saul and was left with no home, no possessions, and even had his wife taken from him.
  • Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were seized from their homes in Israel to serve the Babylonian king.
  • Esther was torn from her home and family in order to be added to the king’s list of candidates for queen (running the risk of forever living in the king’s harem).

…and the list goes on and on. Nearly every Biblical hero not only suffered but lost everything before being used by God? Why? Why them? Why would God allow His greatest servants to suffer before using them for His purposes? It seems to me that if God wanted to attract people to serve Him, it would be better to bless them abundantly before recruiting them. But that’s not how God did it. Why? I believe there are two main reasons.

First, I think God allowed these people to lose everything in order to show them where true value lies. God took away everything else that these men and women could have been tempted to value – family, honor, security, possessions, health.  All that these individuals had left was the only thing of lasting value that could never be taken away – a personal relationship with God. This knowledge of the worth of a relationship with God helped these biblical heroes to accomplish God’s purposes later on. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8) Those who had already been emptied of everything were willing to sacrifice all to do God’s work.

Secondly, I think that this emptying set a standard of God’s provision for these individuals to look back upon when things became difficult later on in their journey. Take Moses, for example. When God called Moses to His service, Moses had just gone from riches to rags. He had been a Prince of Egypt, and suddenly, he was an outlaw reduced to seeking refuge in the desert, caring for dirty, smelly sheep. It’s hard to imagine a greater reversal of fortunes. And yet God took him from that position and led him to accomplish the impossible: freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. God proved Himself faithful in Moses’ hopeless situation. This was something that Moses could look back to when he found himself in desperate situations again and again. In the same way that the Israelites could look back to the separation of the Red Sea as a reminder of God’s provision, Moses could trust God to provide for him in the years ahead because of what God had already done to provide for him in the midst of suffering.

So why do I find it encouraging to realize that biblical heroes suffered just as much – and certainly more – than I ever have or will? Well, maybe it’s just that, as the old proverb goes, “misery loves company.” However, I think the real reason is that seeing how God worked things out for these individuals gives me hope for the future. Each of these biblical heroes suffered at the beginning of or even before the start of their ministries. Though they lost everything initially, God used those sufferings to strengthen them to serve Him in spectacular ways throughout the rest of their lives.

I guess that this realization just makes me appreciate that the discouragements and difficulties that I experience in my life now could be God preparing me for His future call upon my life.  It makes me change the “Why me?” question to ask “What can I learn about God and His mission for my life from this experience?” It causes me to say – when things seemingly go wrong – that God is at work accomplishing greater things than I can possibly imagine to give me a future and a hope.

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