Why Me, God

Why Me, God

All things work together for good. The bible says it but sometimes it doesn’t seem to be visible to us. We look around at the world and ask why? That’s probably my son’s favorite question as a three-year-old. He has recently been studying the story of Joseph in the Bible. Being three he has a million questions about everything. He is at that age where he is just trying to make sense of the basic parameters and boundaries of the world. The story of Joseph is one he really struggles with. He asks me fairly regularly why Joseph’s brothers would throw him into the pit. He just can’t imagine a reason in his little heart why someone would do such a thing.

In the story of Joseph in Genesis 37 it talks about a young man, a dreamer, living a life of luxury and favoritism. Joseph's father Jacob by all accounts was quite wealthy and he was his father's favorite son. Initially he lived a very comfortable and protected life. But that all changed. When he was sent to check on his brothers the disdain of his brothers turned the world on its head. The sins of his father and brothers catch up with him. His life is threatened, he is thrown in a hole, and eventually sold as a slave.

That day had to be one of the worst days of his life. I imagine a spoiled, young, naïve boy in the bottom of a pit crying out to God. Tears running down his face, calling out to God and asking him why me, why me God? Did you not send me those dreams? What have I done to deserve all this hatred? I wonder what his prayers were as he was being sold, or in Potiphar’s house, or in prison. Did he trust in God’s plan? Did he believe that God would watch over him? Or was he asking himself why me God? Why did all this have to happen to me?

Joseph’s situation reminds me of what I see when I look at the world around me. It's not hard to look around and have questions. With the way COVID has affected us, the state of the world, the political situation, with the closure of our state, of our churches and of our schools in 2020, everyone has been touched in some way by hard times this year. When life becomes difficult and uncertain, it can be very hard to understand why God isn’t stepping in on our behalf and fixing the world around us.

As it always does, the bible seems to have an answer. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 it says, “You are temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials and temptations. This is no accident—it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold.”

Nothing comes into your life accidentally. The truth is that most of the time we don’t see things like God sees them. God has promised that trials and temptations are temporary, and that he has a plan and a purpose. God does not cause evil; he takes what sin in the world meant for evil and brings good from it. Every trail that we go through can turn into something good. Trials reveal character, stretch us, mature us, secure us, challenge our values, and strengthen us. Passing through them and seeing God’s hand guiding, builds faith and perseverance.

Joseph devoted his entire life to serving God. But, in many ways, Joseph's life was worse than you or I can even imagine. He was sold as a slave, falsely accused, imprisoned, and yet God was with him. But he was never bitter. Instead of asking, “Why me?” he looked for and trusted God’s purpose. He learned to trust God with his problems, miseries, and sorrows even when he didn’t understand.

What is the secret to his persistence? “This is the reason why we never collapse... These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

I try to explain as much as I can to a 3-year-old that God has a plan. I tell him that sometimes people around us make bad choices, and sin in the world can hurt us, but God can turn anything into something good. Even when bad things happen God is always good.

What pleases God is often difficult for us to understand. God wants us to trust in his plan. He wants us to take him at his word that he will be with us, take care of us and bless us despite what is going on. When the world seems crazy, we only really need to remember one thing, God always wins. What remains for us then? Patience, perseverance, hope, trust and faith that this too will eventually pass and God will do something good soon and eventually, forever.

- Justin Groff