". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


We Don’t Need to Know Why Something Is Happening or What God Is Doing If We Know Who God Is

May 11, 2024

Pastor and theologian Paul Washer believes there are four primary pillars to the Christian life: Knowledge of the truth, faith in what is true, joy, and obedience. For Washer, these are not merely related to each other, but they’re inseparable, with each leading directly to the next. It is knowledge of the truth, paired with the faith that says, “I believe this is true,” that leads to inexpressible joy and obedience to how God calls us to live.

When we read Scripture, we’re actively engaging in the pursuit of knowing who God is and what He has decreed for His people. Time in the Word shows us what God has done as well as what He will do. In my brief life thus far, I’ve experienced seasons far from the Word and time in prayer, as well as seasons of craving to be in it as much as I can. Unmistakably, however, is the remarkably life-changing impact increased time in the Word and in prayer has had in my life — the exact same impact I believe every believer would experience, should they, too, increase their time with our Lord.

When looking back on my time in high school, and even before, I often describe those years as when I was a “lazy Christian.” I believed in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I knew I was a sinner “washed clean by the blood of the Lamb,” as they say, but scarcely did I take the time to dig deep into what that meant. Scarcely did I take the time to get to know this God who sacrificed His one and only, perfect Son for me. Scarcely did I fall on my knees and praise God for this unmerited grace, mercy, and gift of salvation, because scarcely did I bother to meditate on its richness.

Thus, it’s no surprise that I often fell apart at the seams when life threw a curve ball my way. I, like many, quickly cried out, “Lord, why? Why is this happening?” In many cases, it was instinctual to resort to this inquiry when left feeling confused or flustered. But as I reflect now, I can’t help but wonder: How much did asking why actually help me?

Do I believe it’s inherently bad to question God? Not necessarily. We’re curious creatures, us human beings, and utterly finite. We’re often left unsatisfied when wrestling with the matters of life because of how little we actually know. But we want to know, right? Which is why we ask. It’s why I asked. I’ve been prone to feeling restless until I could get an answer. Largely because, without an answer, I would ponder as many outcomes as I could possibly fathom, analyzing these hypothetical outcomes and reasonings to the point of losing sleep or concentration as a result.

And yes, those cycles were about as maddening as they sound. And so, no, I do not believe it’s inherently wrong to ask questions. And if you’re prone to asking God for answers to why something is happening, certainly, it’s clear by now I’ve been in your shoes.

But again, how often does asking God “why?” actually serve as a benefit, specifically when God does not answer us right away (as is often the case)? In my experience, if we’re not careful, it is this question that can easily open a gap that allows doubt, fear, anxiety, and anger to seep through. By asking that question, we too easily allow ourselves to form a pessimistic outlook on any potential answer He could give us. We think, “I don’t deserve to be going through this.” Or “It’s not fair. I just want this to end.” But what do you do, beloved, when it doesn’t end? What do you do when the pain, confusion, or struggle persists far longer than you expected it ever would? If to ask God “why?” is all one can do, then I don’t believe one is setting themselves up well to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing,” and “give thanks in all circumstances,” as Scripture directs us to do (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18b). So, then, what does set us up well?

As Washer would go on to say, we need to be able to know the difference between the truth and a lie. Moreover, we need to actually believe the truth, as opposed to believing a lie, for “believing what is true will always lead to joy.” And how do we do this? By knowing who God is. Because, I am of the conviction that knowing God is far more significant than knowing “why” when we’re met with adversity.

It is knowing God and what He has promised that allows us to say instead, “God, I don’t know why. But I trust you.” Do you see how vastly different those perspectives are? When I would ask God “why?”, it was often followed by other questions, such as: “Where are You? Do You even care? What is the point of this?” And with each question I barked, the more dismayed I would be. But the more I know who God is, the more my prayers have (and perhaps yours, too) shifted to something like this:

God, these circumstances do not make sense. But Your Word says You are good. I feel lost and helpless. But Your Word says You are my rock and shield, that nothing will truly overcome me, and that the lost are not truly lost, but found in and by You. Lord, I do not know why this is happening, but I trust in Your sovereignty, goodness, and perfect will. There is purpose in all that takes place. Because You say You are the Great I AM, and that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Because You are a loving Father, I will trust that You are with me, and that You will never leave me nor forsake me. This Your Word promises; this my lips repeat; this my heart chooses to believe. Lord, I do not know why, but I know You.

Whether you choose to ask God “why?” or not, I implore you to prioritize the recollection of this truth: The good shepherd does not abandon His flock. Not even one sheep is capable of straying from the firm embrace of the shepherd. He loves His sheep, and His sheep know His voice. He lays down His life for them. Through His death and resurrection, we have faith built upon the blood of the Savior who laid down His life for us. For you. Dearly beloved, how could a Savior who willingly died for you, taking upon all guilt, shame, and sin for your benefit, also be a Savior who abandons you amid trial? He isn’t. He will not abandon those whom He loves.

Truly, without having trust in God’s divine providence, that He truly is working out all things for the good of those who love Him, how can we have any hope in the hardship? We must equip ourselves with unfailing truth. In the trial, when we can do nothing but wait patiently and expectantly for the Lord to reveal the purpose, we must find peace simply in Him and who He is rather than in having answers because of us and who we are.

I beseech you, be not a people with minds set on earthly things of the flesh. Do not be a people focused on what you want, and what you want now. Be a people, redeemed and regenerated, bought by the precious blood of Christ, who focus on heavenly things and He who is worthy. For the One who is sent from the Father is above all things. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Rest in His sovereignty. Rest in His providence. Rest in His power. Rest in His steadfast love. Rest in His name. Rest in Him.

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.