Young children learn the word “why” early, and use it in response to many statements we make to them. If we are asking them to do something, or to stop doing something that is harmful, we really can’t give them an answer they would understand. We are asking for compliance for their good. The reason comes from our experience and a view of life that they don’t have and can’t yet see. We have seen consequences to certain actions or inactions they have not. We are asking for trust in love. It is the way God deals with us when He gives directions that are for our good. Because we love Him we trust in His greater wisdom. The same with parent and child, but it is difficult. It takes patience, and persistence. Continuing to give guidance in love, especially in the face of repeated resistance, is painful. It has been painful to God, and it is painful for us. Yet there is hope. There is forgiveness. There is a new beginning. And the love, strength, and guidance of God never fails. We continue each day in the best wisdom God gives, trusting in the depth of love He has for each of us.
There have sometimes been Christmas In July events emphasizing giving charitable gifts to the needy. But really the meaning of Christmas is something one can never stop contemplating. And I’m not talking about peace and good will toward men, as is so often made the center of the Christmas proclamation. No, I’m thinking of the incarnation – Almighty God becoming a man in Jesus. The baby born to Mary, growing as a boy in Nazareth, supporting his family as a carpenter, and later becoming a teacher throughout Israel. God becoming one of us, a real human being. Why? Why would ALMIGHTY GOD, creator of the universe, almighty, all powerful, all knowing, humble Himself so much as to identify completely with His lowly, rebellious creatures? Why? The answer to that “why” question must touch the center of our life. St. John gives the answer in his Gospel. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.”(3:16) God sent His Son to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins so that we could return to full and lasting fellowship with Him. This “why” question causes us to look at the depth of love God really has for each of us, to see Jesus, the Christ, as the center of our life, and to bow humble in worship of our gracious God. Think about it, and celebrate Christmas all year through.
Little children love to ask the question “why?”. It can be irritating to parents when it is frequently repeated, or is a word of defiance. However, it is a really good question. It is one we should never stop asking. Why has been the source of many discoveries. Let’s think of it in the context of our faith. The Psalmist asks it a dozen time in a little different form. “I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”(77:12) To think about our Lord, to ponder all He has done, to meditate on His laws, is to ask why this has been established in this way. It is not arrogant or defiant. As with the Psalmist, it is humbly drawing near to God, and being open for the Holy Spirit to teach. As we read His holy word, and think about one or two verses, the Lord will bring other verses to mind that apply, and deepen our understanding. God doesn’t answer all of our why questions, but if they are asked in humility and trust He will bring His light to our lives.
Sometimes I think too much. I wonder, why God is? Why is He a God of love? An infinite God boggles my mind. I believe, teach, and confess that God is perfect love, justice, and mercy who has a magnificent eternal plan for the creation of mankind, but why should this be? Then I am reminded of the wonderful little Psalm 131. “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.” I have so many “why” questions in life, and it is certainly right to think about our Lord, who has done everything necessary to draw us to Himself. But we are dealing with One we can never fully comprehend. Our peace is not in answering the why questing, but in “stilling and quieting our souls” as a young child with its mother, resting in what we know is infinite love.
Psalm 73 presents the age old question, why do the good suffer, and the bad seem to have an easy life. “I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man.” While the psalmist writes, “All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.” It is a question we will not fully understand on this side of God’s Kingdom, but that is just the point – God’s Kingdom. The psalmist continues, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” Jesus said of such people, “I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”(Matthew 6:2,5,&16) The Psalmist end with a great affirmation of faith, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” No, we will not fully understand all that happens in this life, but our trust is in the One who alone will make all things new.