Do you ever ask God, “why”?

Weekly Reflection, Friday, August 19

By: Harrison Higgins

Do you ever ask God, “why?” Why did this bad thing happen to this good person? Why is there so much evil and suffering in a world made by a good and loving God?

It is a big question that deserves a serious and honest response. I have tried to give serious and honest responses to this question, both to myself and to others, sometimes even in sermons. Inevitably these answers are abstract and theoretical. They may even be correct. God created us free which means we are allowed to choose evil. To control us so we don’t do stupid stuff means that the good we do would not be us doing good but God. We would be puppets on a string and our life would not have much meaning.

This reasoning works when the “why” question is theoretical. There have been a few times in my life when it wasn’t theoretical. The first was when a friend in his mid-twenties got sick from liver cancer. He was part of the group getting Young Life started in Richmond and he had a bright future in Christian ministry. Many groups and churches were praying and even fasting for his healing. We had faith. Then he died. We had done everything right. It didn’t make sense; God didn’t make sense. Why God? At some point in the weeks that followed I realized that Jesus had asked the same question I was asking from the cross. That turned my doubt into trust.

Years later, the question returned with terrible force following the death of my son and a friend in a car accident on the way to a Bible Study. In the months that followed the “why” question was a shadow that followed me, especially to the altar rail each Sunday at St. Andrew’s Church. There I received the bread and wine. And ever so slowly I became aware that God had experienced what I was going through – this pain He knew – and I was able to trust Him again.

Recently, I lost a friend in a freak bike accident and the question has returned. To be honest, I have been angry at God. But what I can describe only as a thought that came to me out of the silence was this question, “where does love come from?” What I realize in all these instances of asking “why,” what made this question urgent, necessary, and supremely important was love. If love had not been part of these stories the “why” question would not have been asked.

I think Jesus answers the “what” questions; the Holy Spirit answers the “how” questions; and God the Father answers the “why” question. And the answer for it all will be love.