Friday, February 21 2020 - 12:21 AM
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Asking Why?

We have a two-year-old in the family and I often get to help with his care one day per week. In the past few weeks he has been obsessed with asking “Why?” about any directions, requests, or conversations. Another favorite phrase is, “What’s that?” I realize that both questions are extremely important for advancing his understanding and vocabulary. When you have to depend upon others to explain your world and you can’t yet read, these are reasonable questions. However, the frequency of “Why?” gets to be rather annoying hour after hour. Sometimes, I even resort to replying, “I don’t know,” or “What do you think?” Often I am just met with another, “Why?”

At some point my little grandson will need to progress in his ability to make his own explanations in life—and then we will be labeled ignorant or we will be asking “Why” to his choices!  But getting past “Why?” is important for personal growth and accountability.

I am often tempted to retreat to “Why?” when I see atrocities in my community or the world. Shouldn’t it all be fair and make sense? Shouldn’t innocents be protected and vindicated? Why are there at least six of my friends, good people, suffering from disease and approaching death? My dear husband often states that the more likely question is, “Why not?” We live in a world affected by the infection of sin on every level. We must lower our expectations in order to survive.

At the same time I sometimes acknowlege that I don’t understand why I have been so blessed. Why was I born in my country where I have enjoyed much freedom, clean water and food, comfortable homes, transportation, travel, mostly loving relatives, education?—it’s a long list.

My life is often about the consequences of choices made by generations before me. I have also created some of my own consequences by choices I have made during my own adult life. It’s easy to get stuck on the why fulcrum of responsiblity and blame, teetering toward victimhood and loss of all sense of purpose in life.

The world teems with people who are stuck in two-year-old land, or conversely those who insist that they have the answers. Many can’t seem to get past “Why?” and they often act angry and resentful when their questions aren’t answered to their satisfaction. Other people can be discounted or not worthy of entering discussion since they can’t answer the next “Why?” That gets so tiring.

A lot of personal pride can be wrapped up in why’s. What am I afraid of losing if I don’t get an answer to Why? Is it important that I prove that my questions are more intelligent than any answers?

As I mature I am getting more comfortable with the lack of answers to many why’s. In my worldview we are part of a Great Controversy between God and evil (Satan). I have faith in God’s character of love. I have faith that someday I will have a more clear understanding of the why’s that have not been answered. I see the promise of eternal life as a grand experience of learning and growing. And since I am not God, I will never have his scope and depth of vision and plan. I am advancing in accepting my puny limitations and God’s great mind and love. That doesn’t mean I always like what’s happening.

So it really is OK to say, “I don’t know.” That isn’t meant to shut up other people, it’s just that I don’t have to possess all the answers. I still seek to understand and explore. I am grateful for how my life has been enriched, and for how challenges have burned away some of the fluff in my character.  Hard times and lack of understanding move me toward God and others for strength. Sometimes I still ask, “Why?”

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know” (I Corinthians 8:1-2, NIV).

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

1. What is your most consistent why?

2. On a scale of 1-10, how comfortable are you with not knowing the answer to your favorite why?

Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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