What If The Why Is Not For You?

7 Nov

None of us are strangers to suffering. Whether it be the deepest of emotional heartaches or relentless physical pain or even something more mild in between, suffering is an all-too-familiar visitor in many of our lives.

One of the toughest things about suffering is our desire to understand why it is happening. We think if we just knew why that it would make enduring the trial easier or less painful. But what if the why isn’t for you?

Consider this excerpt from Oswald Chamber’s, My Utmost for His Highest devotional:

If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others. . . It is only through our relationship with Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. When it comes to suffering, it is part of our Christian culture to want to know God’s purpose beforehand. In the history of the Christian church, the tendency has been to avoid being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. People have sought to carry out God’s orders through a shortcut of their own. . . . Are we partaker’s of Christ’s sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp out our personal ambitions? Are we prepared for God to destroy our individual decisions by supernaturally transforming them? It will mean not knowing why God is taking us that way, because knowing would make us spiritually proud. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through – we go through it more or less without understanding. Then suddenly we come to a place of enlightenment, and realize – “God has strengthened me and I didn’t even know it!

I usually assume that within the hardships I face, there are lessons for me. But what if the “growth opportunity” is not for me, but for someone else? What if my pain or suffering is meant to draw someone else closer to God?

I had a conversation with a friend this week about how hard this year has been on her family. From cancer diagnoses, to other serious illnesses, to the loss of loved ones – the attacks won’t stop coming. Most recently, her sister’s child ended up in the hospital with a mysterious and frightening illness. Her sister was terrified of what could be wrong with her daughter and frustrated at finding herself dealing with hospitals and health worries just a few months after burying her own mother. She wondered why – why her, why now, why this? She also asked what it is she was supposed to be learning from this. My friend said this to her sister: “Maybe the lesson isn’t for you.”

She already gets it.

If we want to be used be God, we have to understand that not every difficulty that enters our life is meant to teach us something. It’s possible we are simply the conduit through which another person experiences God. Maybe we need to worry less about the “why” things are happening and give more thought to “how is God using me?” while this is happening.

It’s a new day. Make it a good one!


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