Not “Why?” but “What?”

“God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!” Jeremiah 31:3 (The Message)


I love how personal our God is. When I’m struggling with something and truly want God’s wisdom on the subject, if I ask, He always answers.

At the beginning of the summer, I was struggling with some heavy emotions. Dreams and desires which God had planted into my heart, and I was certain He was getting ready to fulfill … still hadn’t appeared. The thought of returning to the “desert” instead of walking into my calling was disappointing. Add to that physical and emotional exhaustion and the outcome is anything but “spiritual.”

While I didn’t sink back into the mire of depression that God delivered me from last year, I kept asking God, “why?” “Why haven’t You answered my prayers yet? Why haven’t circumstances changed? I feel as though You’re getting ready to perform a miracle in our lives … why don’t I see the victory?” I felt like a brat for “whining” and asking “why,” but those were my honest feelings and I’m secure enough in my relationship with God to know He can handle my honesty when presented with respect.

And God answered … as He so often does for me, in the form of a blog. It was written by a Christian female leader I respect. She was talking about the very struggles I was experiencing. She explained that the right questions to ask don’t begin with “why” but instead begin with “what?”

Instead of “Why haven’t You answered me yet, God?” the better question is, “What do You want to teach me through this circumstance?” “What do I still need to learn before You’re ready to promote me, Lord?”

“What” questions are much harder to ask because if chosen to be asked, usually they require some form of action on my part. “Why” questions are self-focused, usually from a person who wants the easy way out without putting forth much effort. “Why” questions are usually asked by people who are exhausted, feel hopeless or discouraged. “What” questions are asked from the position of trusting God’s plan, not trying to control the situation or anyone around me. “What” questions usually require work on my part – to learn what God needs me equipped with in order to succeed once I’m promoted.

It’s hard to make the mental shift from “why” questions to “what” questions, but it is possible. For myself, I had to remember the God I serve is trustworthy. I had to remember my life is all about Him and His plans – I’m just the servant and need to be willing to obey. While it’s not easy to shift from “why” to “what,” it brings a certain degree of freedom. God is for me, not against me and when He feels I’m ready, then I will start living in my sweet spot. Until then, I’m still asking, “What do I need to learn, God, because I’m okay with staying in school until You announce my graduation day.”

© Cheri Swalwell

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