It’s the question that we all find ourselves facing at some point in our lives or maybe even daily. It can help us solve problems and learn if we are able to determine a different path that can be taken. But in other circumstances, it can cause us to become lost as the question can trap us, drown us, or make us feel stuck if we can’t find an answer (or at least one that makes sense in our minds).
When tragedy strikes, it is often the first place that we go. With Google being able to answer everything else we wonder about, it’s hard for us to carry on without answers. We just want to know why. It gets dangerous though when we begin to compare our situation to others, justify why something shouldn’t have happened, or find someone to place the blame on. If we let it, not knowing or understanding “why” can cause us to grow bitter, anxious, fearful, or depressed.
There are many things in my life that have caused me to ask “why?” I have been able to find tangible answers for some of those questions and then there are others that rely on me trusting in God: That His ways are far greater than mine (Proverbs 19:21) and I may never know certain things on this side of heaven. It is not always easy to navigate through.
For me personally, the question of “why” never came up when I was diagnosed with cancer. The question DID occur after I became cancer free.
“Why do I get to be cancer free when others live with it their entire lives?”
“Why do I get to live when so many don’t?”
These questions haunted me for a while. I tried to suppress them, but everywhere I turned I saw cancer, suffering, and heartache. I tried to seek answers but nothing eased the pain I was feeling. I battled with survivor’s guilt as many friends and family that I know have lost loved ones to cancer. Most recently, “why” crossed my mind again as I lost my dear friend Sabrina last month to oral cancer (her story can be read by clicking here).
“What can I do with the life that I have been given?”
Rather than drowning in “why”, I went looking for “what.” My question no longer required an answer that I was waiting to “come to me” but something that I would “go after!”
While reading Scripture recently, Wes and I had an amazing conversation about when the Pharisees asked Jesus what the most important of all the things Jesus had taught them was:
““Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.'” -Matthew 22:36-38
I love what Wes said to me as we discussed this verse.
“Did you ever notice that they didn’t ask for a second commandment,” he asked. “Jesus told them because it would be just as important in what they, as well us as us, would be called to do in daily life.”
“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” -Matthew 33:39-40
Jesus had answered the question that I didn’t even know to ask. I discovered (and in many ways rediscovered) what I was being called to do. The “what” was answered for my life in these verses: Loving God and loving others. It reminded me once again that I don’t have to know why all things happen because I already know what I’m called to do regardless of my circumstances.
The answer to what God has called me to do in life is why I decided to start writing this blog and my book. It’s why serving at church and Children’s Hospital has become so important to us. It’s why we went to the US Capitol this last week to advocate and use our voices for those affected by cancer.
I have found that asking “what” focuses more on the external where the “why” had caused me to dwell on the internal. It has been very freeing in my life.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t ever face hard questions. Just like everyone else, there are things that would be easier if they were different. Life is challenging with chronic back pain that agonizes me each day and almost completely losing the ability to have biological children from chemo is something that I can’t get back.
But what am I going to do with this precious life that I have? That’s the choice I have the privilege to make each day. Some days I am better at this than others, but grace and love from God and those who have loved me fiercely remind me of my purpose.
I can’t even begin to act as if I know the trials that you have faced. The hardship you have endured. The questions that you are asking today. I can confidently say this though: You’re not too far gone or too stuck past the point of moving forward. God isn’t afraid of your questions, fears, or doubts. He has taken and continues to take mine and bring me back to Him each day. I believe He can pull someone sinking in quicksand to fresh air, because I am living that truth.
I hope you find your “what” today and every day. You have a life worth living and a purpose that only you can fulfill.
God bless you!
Are you stuck in the “why” and feeling like you can’t move forward? Or do you have a story of overcoming being stuck that you’d like to share? I would love to have a conversation with you and hear your story, pray for you, and encourage you that there is much that God has for you today and in the days to come!