We have a natural tendency toward self-pity. Why me, Lord? Why do I have to go through this? Often time, it’s borne of envy; more a ‘Why not me, Lord?’. The struggle for the Christian is reconciling the self-interest with knowledge that we are sinners, God has blessed us more than we deserve by giving us anything more than death for our sin, and yet seeing so many that are blessed in spite of their sin. Even reconciling these, there is a further complication of struggle and suffering: it might be part of the plan. Sure, Jesus works miracles. He is able. So we ask ourselves, if He is able, why is He not willing? He has healed others, so why not me? Then reality sets in: He allows suffering, even (especially?) to those whom he loves. Many of the apostles and early believers were martyred in gruesome ways. Why?
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. ~ Hebrews 11:35b – 37 NLT
Why? Intellectually we may grasp that suffering reveals and glorifies God. That is cold comfort.
I must confess that I ask “Why Me Lord? Why us?” a lot. I’m coming to the realization that (a) I may not want to know the answer, and (b) even if I did know the answer, it might not be comforting. The better question, then, is: How me, Lord?
Forget why. How do you expect me to handle this? How am I going to make it through? How am I supposed to make it through today? This month? This year? I try to find comfort in His word on this subject, but I just tend to find more suffering among seemingly indiscriminate (to my mortal mind) miracles and healing. I keep coming back to Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. He’s telling them to stop boasting and whining (2 sides of a self-centered coin):
I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. …When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, 32-33 NLT
So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT