Why (Not) Me?

Many years ago, I sat by my daughter’s hospital bed waiting for her to wake up from surgery. It was my job to tell her that the ”fibroid” that had just been removed turned out to be a malignant tumor. When I delivered this news, she shed a single tear, and then asked one question: was her roommate Maritsa still in the waiting room, and could she come see her now? I still marvel at that moment. She didn’t ask a thousand questions. She didn’t yell ”Why me?” She didn’t cry hysterically….she was ready to get on with it and tell her friend she was okay.

Throughout her cancer treatments, Sarah never once asked the why me? question. I finally asked her about that, and she shrugged. ”Why not me?” was her response. Her faith as a 20-year-old was strong enough to believe that since God had brought her to this moment, he would bring her through it. And he did.

Anyone who has undergone cancer surgeries and chemo treatments can probably relate to Job a little. In fact, anyone who has battled severe illness can find themselves somewhere in his story. Certainly those who have battled COVID and come out the other side must feel as though they had been sitting on an ash-heap covered in pain, with friends and family unable to relate to what they are going through.

There are many things in life that put us on an ash heap. Job loss, unfaithful spouses, belligerent kids, family members succumbing to addiction…we all have suffered in some way. The challenge is this: will your suffering cause you to cry out against God? Do you love him in the good times and curse him in the disasters?

Let’s look at Job today.

Job 2 (Contemporary English Version)

2 When the angels gathered around the Lord again, Satan was there with them, and the Lord asked, “Satan, where have you been?”

Satan replied, “I have been going all over the earth.”

Then the Lord asked, “What do you think of my servant Job? No one on earth is like him—he is a truly good person, who respects me and refuses to do evil. And he hasn’t changed, even though you persuaded me to destroy him for no reason.”

Satan answered, “There’s no pain like your own. People will do anything to stay alive. Try striking Job’s own body with pain, and he will curse you to your face.”

“All right!” the Lord replied. “Make Job suffer as much as you want, but just don’t kill him.” Satan left and caused painful sores to break out all over Job’s body—from head to toe.

Then Job sat on the ash-heap to show his sorrow. And while he was scraping his sores with a broken piece of pottery, his wife asked, “Why do you still trust God? Why don’t you curse him and die?”

10 Job replied, “Don’t talk like a fool! If we accept blessings from God, we must accept trouble as well.” In all that happened, Job never once said anything against God.

As you may remember, things get much, much worse for Job from this point on. But even after losing everything, he still refused to curse God. This is a lesson for us today. It is a reminder that even when things go very, very wrong, God is still in control. Things always happen for a reason, just like our mamas told us … even when we can’t fathom what that reason might be.

Are you sitting on an ash heap today? Take heart. God is with you in your suffering. If he brought you to this moment, he is guaranteed to bring you through it. So what are you meant to learn from it? Ponder that, and ask God to help you understand.

In all things, God is able. He is present in your suffering, and you do not walk alone. Remember that with him, all things are possible. Let that be your hope today.

Hope Flows by Nancy Bealer

Perseverance

Batman and Robin decided to go camping. They set up their tent and went to sleep. A couple of hours later, Batman wakes his faithful friend. “Robin, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”

Robin, who is used to these midnight lessons, replies, “I see millions of stars.”

“What does that tell you?” asks Batman.

Robin ponders for a minute. “Well, astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Chronologically, it appears to be about 3:15AM. Theologically, it’s evident that God is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.”

“Why?” continued Robin. “What does it tell you, Batman?”

Batman is silent for a moment, then speaks. “Robin, you’re an idiot. It means somebody stole our tent while we were sleeping.”

How many of you grew up watching the television show “Batman?” Batman began as a comic book, evolved to TV, and is the recent subject of several new movies.

His story is first told in a twelve-frame comic strip in 1939 in issue #27 of Detective Comics. He and his parents are walking home from the theater when an armed robber accosts them. His father steps in front of his mother and takes a bullet. Then the gunman turns the gun on his mother while he watches. The robber runs away, leaving him standing over his dead parents. His guilt over standing by helplessly while his parents were murdered turns the boy Bruce Wayne into the superhero crime-fighter Batman. He dedicates his life to stopping criminals and defending the helpless.

Batman embodies the notion found in verse 3 in our scripture this morning:

Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character. Character produces hope. Lord knows, we are in a season that requires a lot of perseverance right now.

Can you recall a time in your life when you had to persevere through something? Maybe it was as transient as enduring the awkwardness of Middle School, or as life-changing as the kind of perseverance that families learn when they are battling cancer. Some are dealing with the challenges of raising a special needs child or a rebellious teenager, while others are honing their character by being caregivers to a parent who is struggling with dementia. Suffering that produces character that teaches us perseverance takes many forms. As this pandemic continues without an end in sight, we are all learning perseverance.

Many of you know that our family learned about perseverance when our daughter was diagnosed with cancer. It truly is in these moments that God teaches us so much about himself. Even the worst of times can be a blessing in the end, for it is often in those seasons that you learn who you are, and WHOSE you are.

I say this to everyone today who is enduring something: God is with you. Even in your darkest moments, God’s light can be found if you look up and study the heavens.

Robin was right: the bright, shining stars and the vastness of the universe remind us that God is all-powerful and we, and our troubles, are small and insignificant by comparison.

5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

May you persevere through whatever it is you are suffering through right now, and find the hope that comes from God. Hang in there. God is with us.

Moonlit Night