“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I recently wrote an essay for an anthology entitled, “Questions for God.” Over eighty people wrote essays in answer to the question, “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?” (My question was, “Why don’t you intervene when innocent children are suffering?”) Most people have a lengthy list of why questions for God.
Lately, I find myself challenged to rethink the value of asking “why” questions. Am I asking the wrong question? What if I were to reverse the question and ask “why not me?”
Why was I not born into a non-believing family, instead of my Christian family?
Why do I not live in a war torn country, instead of in the United States where we’ve not seen actual war on our territory since the Civil War?
Why am I not struggling to survive in a third world country where many starve to death before their first birthday, instead of eating and sleeping in a well insulated and heated home where my fridge and freezer are well supplied?
Pondering such questions leads me to wonder in embarrassment, “Why am I so ungrateful for the many blessings in my life? Why do I take so much for granted?”
If I were to ask fewer “why” questions, and more “why not me” questions, how would this change the way I deal with my chronic pain, fatigue, insomnia, restless leg syndrome–or any other things in my life that I don’t like and that I wish I could wish away?
In my better moments, I practice gratitude and thank God for everything good in my life that I can think of.
“Thank you that I am feeling energetic today and that everything is going smoothly.”
“Thank you that I did not crash my car when I was distracted by talking on my cell phone while driving.”
But rarely, if ever, do I say, “Thank you, Lord, that I am in pain today and that I can’t do all the tasks I need to accomplish.” I’m not sure I can utter such a prayer without my words dripping with sarcasm. “Thanks a lot, God, for messing up my day (or week, or life).”
“Why” questions overwhelm me. I’m tempted to switch to a different question like, “When, Lord?” or “How, Lord?” But God provides me with a different tack, one that will set me on the right course. What if I pray 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18?
Prayer: Lord, help me to “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances.” When I stray from Your will, remind me to pray. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to fill my sails and direct my course.
About the Author:
Linda Elmore Teeple writes passionately about her personal foibles and flub-ups-and God’s gracious response. Happily married to Rex, Linda also enjoys being Mom, “Nina” (grandmother) and an almost-retired family therapist. She loves dogs, nature and dark chocolate. Fibromyalgia, arthritis and multiple spine issues challenge her to seek God in the midst of life’s challenges. You can connect with Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org and http://natureofgrace.blogspot.com/.