Prayer and Reflections

When We Wonder, “Why?”

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food… Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
- Habakkuk 3:17-18

It’s easy to trust God when all is well, but when sorrow, pain, and suffering overwhelm us, our natural response is to ask “Why?” When our faithful prayers are not answered as we had hoped for, we are tempted to doubt God’s love, sovereignty, and power and to lose sight of the opportunity to grow in our knowledge of who He is and our relationship with Him. We think, somehow, if we can understand the cause of the loss or suffering we can regain a sense of control, ease the pain, and in some ways, be our own god. Instead, we are led by the Holy Spirit to the only true God. 

In times of injustice, loss, and suffering, we are drawn to the plight of Job. Having lost everything but his wife and his own life, and then being unjustly accused by his friends, Job cried out to God for answers. According to Scripture, Job was a ‘righteous’ man—not perfect, but right with God. He refused to accept the accusations of friends who urged him to confess his sin and be healed. 

Although examining our own hearts may be the first step to take when suffering, sin is not always the cause. When questioned about whose sin caused a man’s blindness, Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3). Jesus Himself cried out to the Father on the cross, “My God, why have You forsaken me?” By faith we are encouraged to be open and transparent with God when we struggle with unanswered prayer or are tempted to doubt His loving presence and power. 

Through the Bible we are privy to the cause of Job’s suffering. He was not. God never answered his “why” questions. He simply enlarged his vision of who He was and His sovereignty.  In the Jeremiah Study Bible, D. Jeremiah notes, “God did not condemn Job for any sin or foolishness. He did, though, charge Job for mistakenly and arrogantly asserting that he could better explain what was happening in the world, and better order and control its affairs. Job was wrong on both counts. Therefore, Job said, “I …repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). God alone is Sovereign and owes no one an explanation for His actions. 

Six years ago this week, our beautiful, young, and talented daughter-in-law Susan lost her battle with cancer despite prayers on her behalf from Christians around the country and the faithful support of the community of which she was a part. I have at times wondered and asked, “Why?” I still do not know ‘why’ our prayers were not answered as we prayed, but I have seen God’s all-sufficient grace, His comforting love and His use of this painful tragedy to touch many hearts and lives and grow us all in our knowledge of Him. 

Trusting Him when we don’t know ‘why’ is one of the greatest tests of faith we can experience and the greatest opportunity to grow in our knowledge of who God is and His greater purposes! Thus our need in uncertain times is to be honest with God, acknowledge His sovereignty, trust Him by faith, and learn from His silences.

“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

Father God,
How desperately we seek to avoid
Life’s inevitable suffering and pain;
Instead of staying focused
On heaven’s reality and our gain.

How earnestly we seek to understand,
The answer to our "Why's?"
Rather than accept by faith,
Your silence in our cries.


And wallowing in our self-pity,
We fail to accept that grace and peace,
That only comes when by faith we trust,
And all our questions cease.

And thus our need in times of pain,
To fall prostrate at Your feet;
And in our desperation find,
Your solace and comfort sweet.

From Reflections of Hope and Comfort: Trusting God in Times of Loss, © 2012, Doris Haver Rouse.

For additional thoughts and poems, visit Doris Rouse's Amazon page.

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