What? Which? Where? Who? Whom? Whose? How? When? WHY?????
Out of all the interrogative question words, WHY has surely got to be the one which has the potential to cause the most frustration, confusion, and heartache.
Wrestling with WHY is the mental and emotional equivalent of trying to organise my boxes of old photos. I start with good intentions to “get this box sorted” only to find it a painfully frustrating process! My perspective is biased toward what only I can recall from the images. If I show another family member the same photo their perspective of the event will be different to mine. As memories surface I find I need to re-sort or insert photos in different chronological places. I can spend hours sorting and re-sorting only to discover I’ve missed something yet again!
In the same way, wrestling with WHY involves looking at things only from my perspective, and being incapable of accurately knowing the motivations and perspective of others involved, or the interplay between events outside my control. I can sort and re-sort my mental images as many times as I like, but there’ll always be something missing because my understanding is limited and I’m incapable of seeing the whole big picture.
Life brings events where sometimes there is no clear logical reason why. A friend fails us. A loved one dies. Disease strikes. A family member has an accident. Random acts of nature. Just when we think we have it all neatly packed , sorted, figured out and labelled, we find ourselves replaying the possible WHYs over and over again.
It has been my lived experience lately. Initially my mind wanted to “figure out” why I got cancer. Was it something in my diet? Something in my environment? What if I’d had my mammogram on time? Why didn’t I notice the lump sooner? WHY has taunted me, wanting me to engage in yet another wrestling match. But wrestling is tiring. It gets me nowhere. So now I just throw all the what-if’s in a box and label it “DON’T OPEN.”
WHY???? is the cry of the human heart and eventually we can come to a place of accepting that actually, there are some things we may never understand. I am okay with that.
Even the wisest man who ever lived on the planet, King Solomon, came to this conclusion:
“When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth—people getting no sleep day or night— then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it. ” (Ecc 8:16-17 NIV)
So instead of asking WHY I’ve learned that it’s best to ask other questions instead.
WHAT am I learning?
HOW am I blessed?
WHO is with me?
And my wrestling becomes resting.