This is a question that’s kept popping its head up recently for me. There’s questions of why what’s happening in my life at the minute happens at all in this world? But then there’s the deeper question: why is it happening to me?
Mostly it’s not conscious. For the reasons I’ll write about here, I don’t think it’s a very good question, and one that doesn’t really help to dwell on. But that doesn’t stop me asking it, and it doesn’t stop my brain from wanting an answer to it.
“Why me?” – some answers
It’s not as if there aren’t answers to the question. It’s just that none of them satisfy. Each of the following has been suggested to me in some way in the last two months.
Answer 1: God has a plan in it all. Ok. Except, hang on, what? This is God’s plan? To bring two people together in marriage, a union He designed to be lifelong, just for it to breakdown in a way like this that causes a lot of pain for a lot of people? I’m not saying God can’t work in situations He doesn’t want, but that’s very different from saying this was God’s plan in the first place.
Answer 2: I’m not a very good husband. I want to be clear. No-one has said this to me. Nobody at all, but it has been suggested to me. By me. There’s a nagging doubt sometimes. Maybe this is my fault. I’m not a good husband and I deserve this. I don’t think this is true. I’ve not been perfect, but I do believe I’ve been a good and faithful husband. That doesn’t stop doubts, though.
Answer 3: It was never meant to be. Maybe we got it wrong in the first place. She wasn’t the one for me. Only I’m utterly convinced there’s no such person as ‘the one’ we’re meant to be with. We make that choice, not God. Of course we seek to be wise when we do, but that’s different. Then we make promises to each other and we commit, with God’s help, to keeping them. I don’t buy this idea, so it doesn’t satisfy.
Answer 4: It’s spiritual attack. I’m a leader in a church, I’m seeking to serve Him and seeing fruit in that. Satan doesn’t like that, so he wants to bring me down. Ok, I have some sympathy with this, but it begs a few follow-up questions. What about Christian leaders whose marriages are fine? Are they not serving faithfully? And if this is true, doesn’t it make it my fault again? It’s not a complete answer.
So have I missed the answer? Is there something I’m not thinking of? Should I try harder and see if I can work it out? I don’t think I should. My brain will doubtless keep trying, but here’s why I’ll try not to let it too much.
“Why me?” – the wrong question
I’m not the first person to ask this question, and I won’t be the last. Maybe that’s why there’s a whole book of the Bible given basically to this theme. The book of Job.
Job, a good man, has his life completely destroyed. He loses everything. But the thing which hurts most is not knowing why it happened. He asks, simply, “Why me?”. He has some friends who come and do exactly the right thing. They come and sit with him. Just sit with him. Be there with him. By his side.
Then they open their mouths.
And suddenly it becomes a great debate, trying to work out the cause of his suffering. Maybe he has some hidden sin, and this is punishment. Maybe this is God’s way of developing his character. Maybe. Maybe. None of it satisfies.
Then God speaks.
And God asks questions of His own. Was Job there when the world was made? Does he know how it all fits together? Does he know how all of creation works? Can he give account for the behaviour of every animal? Is his brain capable of comprehending all these things that God alone knows?
Job responds: “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:3)
“Why me?” – I don’t know
There are some things, Job realises, that are beyond our comprehension. Questions we won’t have answers to. That’s tough. It feels sometimes as though having the answers will make their cause easier to bear. If only, in the middle of all this pain, there was some reason, some order in the chaos.
It feels as though it would help. But I don’t think it would. I think that if I dwell in “Why me?” territory, it’ll just pull me down. I need to become comfortable with saying these words:
I don’t know.
And I doubt I’m the only one.