It can overwhelm and sap every ounce of energy. It can grow into an all-consuming question dominating life. It can paralyze, frustrate and evoke the deepest anger. It is the question, “Why did this happen?” Although we might never obtain an adequate or accurate answer, a clear path forward exists.
Before we consider a way out of this question’s quagmire, consider the brief observation that one of the reasons why this question can consume so much time and energy is because an accurate answer might be unknowable or we might reject it.
As to the latter, we tend to reject the meaninglessness that, “____ just happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time.” We want more meaning from life than this. We want more significance for our suffering and for those around us. Furthermore, most people bristle at the thought that they are merely reaping what they have sown, whether their error was foolishness or sin. Thus true or not, often these answers will not quieten the quest.
Furthermore, the answer might be unknowable since the truth might lie beyond our horizon. For example, Satan could be trying to destroy our faithful service to God (Job 1:9-12; 24-6; Ephesians 6:12). Or it might be that God is disciplining us for our betterment (Deuteronomy 8:5; Hebrews 12:5-7).
While we might never know for sure why something happened, nothing demands that our uncertainty must become Satan’s life-sapping tool. There is a way out. It involves focusing upon a different question, “What am I going to do now?”
If we are living for the Lord, the answer to “what will I do now” remains the same regardless of why something happened. If Satan is trying to knock us down, what should we do? Draw closer to God and live for him. If God is disciplining us, what should we do? Draw closer to God. If we have acted foolishly or sinfully, what should we do? Draw closer to God. If senseless and meaningless disaster has struck, what should we do? You know the answer.
Thus, if we are disciples we already know how to move forward. We know how to love God and love our fellow human being. We know that we are to forgive, bless and pray for others. We know what our Lord promises us when we encounter difficult times (Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 10: 13; Hebrews 11:5-6). We know how God’s grace has strengthened and been sufficient for others (2 Corinthians 12:9; 1:8-11; Philippians 4:13).
Therefore our first steps need to be drenched in prayer as we seek the Lord’s grace to move forward in living for God. What does discipleship look like? These attitudes and actions are our next steps forward!