April 19, 2022

Sometimes, when we are not happy with our circumstances, which sometimes we call bad news, we ask the “Why” question. I am coming to think that it has its roots in our thinking too highly of ourselves. Now, I am not talking about those situations where something didn’t work and we ask why so that we can explore what happened, learn from it, and not repeat the situation again. You know, those situations like Why were we late to church again? So, we think and realize we overslept because we had stayed up too late the night before, we had not prepared our clothes for wearing in the morning, and the car was low on gas and we had to fill up. All these were preventable, and with forethought and planning, we can avoid them in the future and not be late.

I am thinking of those circumstances where we ask “Why?” and we are thinking of ourselves as innocent
victims. In those times, I think it better to ask, “Why not?” After all, we live in a sin-cursed world, all God’s
good gifts in Creation are tainted with death and we find so many ways to misuse and pervert them, and our bodies are frail temporary tents for us to dwell in until our mortality is swallowed up by life (2 Cor 5:4). So, what is the big surprise when a calamity strikes, or it seems like our life might be shortened by disease?

I don’t mean to be harsh here, but I am just stating the realities. My mind ran in this direction when I heard of the story of an important man who was plagued with the “Why me?” question when he found out he had cancer. I asked myself, “Why haven’t I asked, ‘Why?’”

Now, to be accurate, there have been times when after surgery I asked, “Why did God spare my life through a successful surgery?” Other times, when the pain, limitations, and side effects of being a survivor were very heavy, I asked, “Why has God kept me alive?”

With the news of four types of cancers in two different areas of my body, I never asked, “Why me?” as a victim—it was more a resigned, “Why not?” This was not because I am a super-spiritual person, always living out all sorts of Biblical principles. Maybe it was because I am always reminded of how miserable my life was before Christ saved me. Maybe it is because it doesn’t take much imagination to think how pitiful and pitiable my life would have been if I had continued life without Jesus.

When I heard the news, it was certainly disturbing—aspirations were threatened, and there were concerns for my wife, children, and grandchildren. But I was able to reflect on the tremendous life that I had been blessed to have—a life that was fuller and much more meaningful than any I could ever have imagined. A faithful and loving wife, a supportive and forgiving family, and a myriad of friends and relationships that this formerly lonely, isolated, uncaring, introvert could never have envisioned.

There was also a sense of significance. Not that God was lucky to have had me on His side (perish the thought), but that God had chosen to make this weak creature His child and use me in a positive way to impact others for the sake of His Kingdom.

Were there things undone? Of course. But I was able to focus on what God had done. My life had been full. A passage that was important to me before my cancers took on a much fuller perspective is 2 Corinthians 5:4: “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” I realized death is not the end; it is the passageway from this existence to life in its fullest.

As I was sitting in our Easter service, I encountered another “Why.” Why am I not as excited about the day we call Easter as I have been in other years? Why don’t I bubble with all the excited greetings? Perhaps there is a bit of being reserved and not being overtly expressive of my feelings. But I think a large part of it is that every day my weakness reminds me to embrace and celebrate the beauty of resurrection truth—every day. I can go on living day-to-day because of the hope that comes from the resurrection of Jesus.

So, what day has special significance for me because of the resurrection? It is the day I am living.