The Questions We Ask In Adversity
A Prayer to Open Our Study
"Father, thank You. You are our rock, and we run to you today, believing that you will lift us up and be there during the trials you have given us. Renew my strength, Lord. Fill us with your supernatural power to overcome each obstacle in our path. We ask You to help us keep our eyes on you, Lord, knowing with you walking beside us, working through us, only then can we make it.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen."
Lesson Two Part One:
To start us on our way, Charles Stanley asked us two questions that we will explore in this lesson:
Learning: Why does adversity happen?
Growing: How should I respond?
Our first question in this lesson begins with the big three letter word “WHY” I say that it’s a big word because in most cases to answer that type of query opens up a huge kettle of fish. When I was young, I would ask my dad tons of why questions. He tried to answer those questions to the best of his ability; but there were times I just didn’t always understand them. That’s how it is when we are in the middle of adversity, we want a straight detailed reply so we can solve our problems, instead we get answers that are slippery and hard to hold on to. We learned in our first lesson that God’s ways are not our ways, (Isaiah 55:8-9) and sometimes we need to accept that God’s plan for our life includes calamity, tragedy, hardships, and pain.
I don’t think that means we should throw our hands up in defeat or give up asking questions. Our why questions allow us to go before our heavenly Father and pour out our hearts to Him. They help us process what we are going through. Questions can be a great help in mourning our loss, communicating our frustration, and expressing our feelings. Scriptures are full of hurting people asking questions. Look at the Psalms. David wrote many of them when he was broken; and, in them, he poured out some painful and intimate questions. Sometimes David got answers. Sometimes he got silence. But even when David’s questions weren’t answered, his faith in God was made stronger than his need to know.
In part three of lesson one, I spoke to you about how angry I was with God for allowing me to be born with a birth defect. But what I really wanted to know from Him was WHY ME! That is what Mr. Stanley wants us to see. When we are facing adversity, it’s very personal. We are under attack in one form or another and all we can think about is how did this happened and why did it happen to me. Charles told us that “problems, needs, and troubles plague all of us, and that no one is immune to them” and I agree with him, but when we are the ones knee high in the muck, it’s hard to stand up.
Read James 1:5-6 and Philippians 4:6-7 and Hebrews 4:16
1. Mr. Stanley’s first question in this lesson is “When have you asked, Why Me?” and “Did you ever get a satisfactory answer?” I understand that sometimes it’s hard for us to admit to having these types of questions. And it’s important to know that nowhere does the Bible promise that all our questions will be answered this side of heaven. But we have the promise as Jeremiah said in chapter 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
So, what are some of your why questions? Have you ever talked to God about them? I want you to take a minute and write down all your why questions, be specific. Try to remember each of those why questions that kept you awake at night. For some of you, it may be a single why question that has plagued you for years. For others, it may be a long list of why's that have changed as often as your circumstances.
Then I want you to list, “Why did this happen?” Don’t answer them until you have exhausted your list of why me questions. Stop and do it now, get a pen and piece of paper or use the space provided in your study book. I’ll wait right here until you get back.
Did you make a list? How did it feel to write down your why questions? Was it a relief, or did it make you angry to put your why's on paper? Were your why questions answered? Or did most of your questions go unanswered? Yeah, me too. If I am honest, I find that as I look at my list, there is a sense of peace that comes from owning my why questions. I love lists. They help to prioritize my life; they help me see patterns and help me make plans.
Here are a few of my why questions, “Why was I born with a birth defect? Why did my business fail? Why did my spouse’s parents die from cancer? The answers to why, doesn’t help us heal. But knowing that God’s glory can be displayed, even in the brokenness of our lives, can give us hope despite our circumstances. I promise you will find more purpose and joy in your life if you set aside the why and ask why this.
Maybe the better question is “Why This”
Asking “Why This” forces us to see if we are at the root of our problems, it lets us look for answers that help us stop repeating the same mistakes, and shows us God at work in our lives. We should ask why this until we get the clearest answer possible. Sometimes the answer to our why this may become obvious, or they may never be answered in our lifetime. Too often, we don’t get the answer we want. But as Mr. Stanley says, “The best recourse is this: trust God for an explanation to the best of your ability to understand, and then ask Him to give you the faith to trust His love and to give you peace about what you don’t understand.”
2. Mr. Stanley asked us to use the idea of Why This instead of Why Me as we think about our adverse experiences. Let’s make a new list to go with these thoughts. Why do you think God put you in these situations? What lesson did God want you to learn from these incidents? How does your story fit into God’s greater story of redemption? I’ll wait right here until you get back.
After looking at both of your lists, what did you see? Even when we can’t immediately see how our story fits into God’s story of redemption, Scripture promises that it always does. Maybe you’ve never thought of how God could use what you’re going through for His glory. Maybe this is new to you. If so, let me help get you started by giving you a few examples.
God can use adversity to help us Grow.
Adversity can point out sin in our lives and bring our attention to an area we need to work on. Just as heating silver can get rid of impunities, so we sometimes need to be put to the fire to become stronger Christians. When we’re humbled and willing to repent, we can get back on the path God has for us.
God can use adversity to bring us back to Him.
Trials remind us we can’t make it on our own, and who is truly in control. God wants our attention, but we get distracted and believe that we can handle everything on our own. When life is easy, we forget God, so adversity reminds us how much we need Him.
God can use adversity to point to God’s Glory.
Often, we get so caught up in our pain that we don’t realize God has put it in our life for a purpose. In the story of Ruth and Naomi we saw how their pain in the loss of their husbands played a part in God’s plan to send a savior for all of us. Naomi’s decision to go home and Ruth’s to go with her resulted in Ruth becoming part of the lineage of David, and an ancestor of Jesus. So, God used their pain for good.
When we read our Bible, we see stories about people struggling through trials. When we read those stories, we have the luxury of knowing how it ends, and seeing how God came through for them. But in our lives, we can’t see into the future, and see how it is all going to turn out. We may not understand what God’s doing, but we can have the faith that He is working behind the scenes.
Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 and 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 and Isaiah 48:10 and Proverbs 17:3