Wednesday, November 08, 2006

“Why me?” to “Why you?”

Last month, my friend Kenneth arrived a little late to his son’s soccer game only to find him lying on the field writhing in pain. While playing goalie, Chris had collided with two other players, flipped in the air, and hit the ground. They thought his knee was dislocated. After a call to 911 and an ambulance ride the hospital they learned it was much worse. His femur had shattered into three pieces. Surgery the next morning lasted three hours, and it took ten screws to stabilize the bone.

Needless to say, it’s been a long and difficult month for my friend, his son, and their whole family. Because of the surgery, a nerve that controls upward movement in Chris’s foot has “fallen asleep.” We’re praying for healing. Right now it’s a time of waiting and trusting. Through this season I’ve watched my friend heroically care for his boy, lead his family and, most importantly, trust God.

A few days ago, he emailed me the following quotation by David Powlison from the book Suffering and the Sovereignty of God:

So often the initial reaction to painful suffering is Why me? Why this? Why now? Why? You've heard God speaking with you. The real God say all these wonderful things, and does everything he says. He comes for you in the flesh, in Christ, into suffering, on your behalf. He does not offer advice and perspective from afar; he steps into your significant suffering. He will see you through and work with you the whole way. He will carry you even in extremes. This reality changes the questions that rise up from your heart. That inward-turning "why me" quiets down, lifts it eyes, and begins to look around.

You turn outward and new wonderful questions form. Why you? Why you? Why would you enter this world of evils? Why would you go through loss, weakness, hardship, sorrow, and death? Why would you do this for me, of all people? But you did. You did this for the joy set before you. You did this for love. You did this showing the glory of God in the face of Christ. As that deeper questions sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.

The question generates a heart felt response: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of his benefits...

I’ve watched Kenneth in the midst of this trial turn outward and fix his eyes on his Savior. It’s a wonderful thing to witness the “joyous sanity” of a person suffering and clinging to the gospel. I witnessed it yesterday in the eyes of my friend Jon. This week, he and his wife lost their newborn son. Jon and Jenni have known for many months that their son's life after birth would be very brief. They had him for four hours. Jon looked me in the eyes and told me how he missed his boy. Then, he spoke of his amazement at what God did in giving his Son for our sins.

It was a holy moment. It was a living example of a perspective—even in the midst of the worst circumstances—transformed by the truth of the Savior who has come.

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