Why Not Me?

October 28, 2017

Don's Journey

 

It’s probably the most asked question and highest hurdle for many to cross, in order to make peace with a “so-called” good God.   Bad stuff happens.  Bad stuff happens to my friends.  Bad stuff happens to my parents.  Bad stuff happens to my spouse.  Bad stuff happens to my children.  Bad stuff happens to me!  Bad stuff happens. 

 

So, we ask, “Why?  Why does so much bad stuff happen?”  But, more importantly, “Why does bad stuff happen to me?”  As a pastor, I’ve been asked this question hundreds of times.  We are all aware that bad stuff happens, but we somehow don’t expect it to happen directly to us or to those we love.  It’s kind of weird when you think about it.

 

I have a proposal.

 

Why don’t we question why good stuff happens?  Why don’t we wonder why good stuff happens to us?   Good stuff happens.  Good stuff happens to your friends.  Good stuff happens to your parents.  Good stuff happens to your spouse.  Good stuff happens to you!  Good stuff happens.

 

So, how about the question, “Why does good stuff happen to me?”

 

Many years ago, Kris Kristofferson wrote a song that goes like this:

 

Why me Lord, what have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I've known
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do
That was worth loving you
Or the kindness you've shown.

Songwriters: Kris Kristofferson

Why Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

 

I think Kris was hitting on a pretty insightful point.  He was actually echoing a proposition set forth by the Biblical character named Job.  Job was a really good man, who enjoyed many of the pleasures of life for many years.  But one day it all fell apart, and to boot, God had a part in the whole “bad stuff happens to Job” thing.  He let Satan mess with Job’s life to the point where all the good stuff seemed to vanish in an instant.  Job struggled with the big questions about which we all struggle in a world where bad stuff happens.  But, after the death of all of his children, the loss of all of his wealth and prestige, and the demise of his own health, he concluded: “Shall we accept good from the Lord and not the bad?  The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 

 

When I was ten years old, my 28-year-old sister died as a result of difficulties after giving birth to my niece.  She was a wonderful, Godly woman.  I’ll never forget the powder blue night gown she wore in the casket in which she was buried.  That image was permanently etched in a small boy's mind.  For me, it was my sister’s death.  For mom and dad, it was their young daughter.  Children are not supposed to die before their parents, are they?   

 

A few years later, one of my best childhood friends died tragically in a fall from a rope where we used to swing out over a deep ravine.  I was one of his friends who encouraged him to try it, even though he was afraid and not in good enough shape to be doing such a thing.  I will always remember carrying his casket in the funeral, and his mother’s tears.

 

The day my wife graduated from the University of Tennessee, first in her class, we received a call from my brother-in-law.  “Donnie, your father passed away a little while ago.”  After several years of struggle, dad succumbed to emphysema.  Mom was so upset because she had just left the hospital and was not at his side when he passed.  Wives should be with their husbands to usher them into eternity.

 

Years later, mom, at age 79, got ovarian cancer and died after a few months battle.  She thought it was funny that a 79-year-old woman, who had suffered numerous heart attacks, would die of ovarian cancer.  I still miss calling her on Saturday morning.  She was so proud to see me receive my doctoral degree.  She always wanted me to be a doctor.

 

This is a very short list of some of the bad stuff that has happened to me.  I’m sure you could easily make a list to surpass mine.

 

Here’s another list:

 

I grew up in an idyllic home with two parents and three sisters who loved me.  I never lacked a meal.  We took wonderful vacations each year and I spent many hours fishing with my dad and mom.

 

At age 10, I knew enough to give my life to Jesus and get my life from Jesus, and I’ll never forget the joy on my mother’s face when I came out of the waters of baptism.  Jesus has never once failed me. He’s kept every promise He ever made to me.

 

I have an awesome wife, children, a grandson, extended family, deep friendships, and love of an entire church.

 

I’ve traveled all over the world.  I’ve gotten see sights and enjoy experiences I could never imagine when I was young.

 

I live in a nice house, presently drive the favorite car of my whole life, never go hungry (which is obvious), wear nice clothes and take amazing vacations.

 

Good stuff happens.  Good stuff happens to me!   Why?  What did I ever do to deserve any of this good stuff?  I don’t understand it.  I don’t understand it, because I know that I don’t deserve any of this good stuff.  Sorry, but you don’t deserve your good stuff either.  In fact, you’re like me, you’ve had a hand in making bad stuff happen in the world, along with every other human that ever lived.  We are the bad stuff instigators at one point or another.  My suggestion: Stop blaming God for your bad stuff.  It doesn’t do you or anyone else any good.  Get angry, yes.  Cry all night, yes.  Talk about it until you’re blue in the face, by all means.  But don’t blame God and shut Him out.  All He’s ever done is love you – loved you so much that He died to take your deserved punishment.  He then rose from the dead in order to redeem a world that you and I helped screw up.  All of creation is marred, mutilated, and messed up because of sin – some of it, our sin.

 

So,

Why me Lord, what have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I've known
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do
That was worth loving you
Or the kindness you've shown.

 

Now, my wife, the mother of my children, has stage four cancer.  Unless God performs a miracle, she will lose this battle.  This is bad stuff.  I don’t for a moment, think she deserves this illness.  But this side of heaven, there will be cancer.  That is why the human soul longs for a place like heaven.  Should I reject the God who has given me a mountain of good stuff in life, and not accept that bad stuff will happen?  I don’t think so.

 

And let me say that there are many times when those who are innocent have unthinkable acts committed against them, fall with terrible diseases like cancer, and suffer as the result of the evil acts of others.  Unbelievably bad stuff happens to good people.  We live in a fallen world.  But, as the song states, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.”   For those who will allow it, God makes good stuff rise from the ashes of pain and suffering and sorrow.  And ultimately, heaven will prevail and none of those maladies will ever enter its gates.

 

This is the most miserable, difficult, draining experience of my life.  In addition, it’s not too sweet for my wife, children, extended family and friends.  It’s bad stuff, but there’s also been a lot of good to come of it. 

 

So, I propose a new perspective.  Perhaps it will change your perspective.  When bad stuff happens, don’t just ask “why me.”  Also ask, “Why not me?”  And, when good stuff happens to you, don’t act like you deserve all of it.  Instead ask, “Why me?  Why should any of this good stuff happen to me?” 

 

Shall I not accept the bad with the good?  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

 

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