Why Me? Why Not Me?
Why Me? Why Not Me?

Living in Florida, I recently engaged in a stressful dance with Hurricane Dorian.

For those who haven’t been following the vagaries of tropical weather, Dorian crossed the Atlantic as a tropical storm that grew into a Category 5 hurricane. With a peak wind speed of 183 mph, Dorian is one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record.

Those of us in Florida watched with trepidation as Dorian appeared to target our state’s east coast. We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. And many of us prayed.

We prayed for Dorian to turn north before it made landfall in Florida. Not here, Lord!

Then we watched this monster storm engulf the Bahamas. It devastated the islands with punishing and merciless winds before continuing its deliberate journey toward us.

And we prayed some more. Lord, help those in the Bahamas. But please don’t let that happen to us. Not here, Lord. Not me, Lord.

Even as I prayed this, I found myself wondering, Why not me?

Have you ever asked, “Why me?” Or perhaps, “Why not me?”

  • Why am I the one who received that prognosis?
  • How come I didn’t get the last seat in that class I wanted to attend?
  • Why didn’t I get the job?
  • How come the hurricane hit my city?
  • Why did someone else get what I should have received?

Where do we get the idea that bad things shouldn’t happen to us? Of course, no one wants to experience sorrow or suffering. But when these situations occur, we often seem to think God has somehow let us down. That He violated an unwritten agreement: I’ll believe in You and You will protect me from anything bad.

But the Bible never promised a life without sorrow and suffering. Actually, just the opposite. Jesus told His followers, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).

Living in a broken, sin-sick world means we are guaranteed to have trouble. It’s not an if, it’s a when. And our heavenly Father doesn’t always stop the trouble from happening. But He does promise peace in the midst of difficulty.

Besides, how will the world understand the reality of the peace brought by the Prince of Peace if nothing negative ever happens to Christians?

So the next time we’re facing a difficult circumstance, let’s not ask “Why me?” Instead, ask “Why not me?” Then ask, “How can I live for Christ in this situation so that others will want the relationship with Him that I have?”

I still intend to pray hurricanes will steer away from me–and from others! And not just physical hurricanes, but all storms of life. Still, if—no, when—they do come, I also pray I’ll exhibit the peace and strength that comes from knowing who I am in Christ. That I will surrender to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to live out the reality of my identity as a child of God regardless of my situation. And that the way I live might be the salt which makes others thirsty for that same relationship.

Why me?
Why not me?


Abounding in Hope Despite the Rain
Hope in Suffering

Hurricane Barry made landfall on the Louisiana coast in July as 2019’s first hurricane. As Barry approached, fears about the Category 1 hurricane focused primarily on water damage from storm surge, an already high Mississippi river, and torrential rain.

And Hurricane Dorian is churning in the Atlantic, aiming for Florida’s east coast as I type this.

Even those who haven’t lived through a hurricane can still relate. Life has a way of hitting all of us with figurative storm surges, high rivers and hammering rains.

I’m familiar with the line, “Into each life some rain must fall,” made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and The Inkspots in 1944. I’m equally familiar with another adage, “It never rains but it pours.” A little rain is one thing. Torrential and unending downpours are quite another.

If you’re not in a season where troubles or suffering seem to be multiplying, you’ve either just come out of such a season or you’re about to go into one. It’s part of life in a broken, sin-sick world.

So how are we to respond to life experiences that feel like a combination of storm surges, high rivers, and torrential rains? Experiences that seem to magnify our brokenness, inflame our fears, or expose our vulnerability?

We approach these experiences with hope. Not the fragile, undependable hope our world offers, but the solid biblical hope flowing from our identity in Christ as children of our heavenly Father.

Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

What is your “despite”? We all have at least one. It could be a dream that seems continually out of reach. Or a prodigal child bent on their own way. It might be a medical diagnosis or a financial deficit. Or it could be a combination of several “despites.” My own “despite” is this new chapter of my life as a widow.

Still, no matter how dark the darkness is, we can have hope. We can remind ourselves of God’s past faithfulness. Of the hope we have for an eternity through Christ. And of the equipping we have from the indwelling Holy Spirit.

This hope fuels courage. Courage to persevere when we’re tired. Strength to continue when we’re weak. Encouragement when we’re discouraged. Power to endure when we’re drained.

The apostle Paul understood this when he wrote to the early church in Rome:

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NASB).

The word abound means to overflow, flourish, or thrive. So when our rivers overflow and the storms of life flourish, so can hope in the child of God. Regardless of our situation, we could all use some abounding, overflowing, flourishing, and thriving hope, don’t you agree?

Besides…we can’t have rainbows without the rain.

What is your “despite”?
How is hope carrying you through it today?


How Much Suffering is Too Much?

Enough. Have you ever said that to God?

Enough suffering, Lord. I’ve had more than my fair share of trouble. When is it going to stop?

Remember the trials and tribulations of Job? His near-perfect life was disrupted by trouble. Lots and lots of trouble. He lost his children, his wealth, and his health in a swift series of events that seemingly defied explanation.

Many of us know someone like Job. Someone who has experienced extraordinary suffering. I have a friend who lost his father, brother, and wife, all within five months. Another friend and her husband have been unemployed for several years and suffer from several debilitating illnesses. Still another friend has breast cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy in the hope that surgery will be a later option. (Right about now you may be wondering if it’s safe to be my friend!)

I recently learned of another person who received bad news. Joni Eareckson Tada has breast cancer…again.

What did you think when you read those words? Did the word enough spring to mind? After all, Joni has been a quadriplegic for more than fifty years. Instead of hiding in a corner or throwing herself a life-long pity party, she became an author, speaker, and founder of Joni and Friends, an international ministry that shares the hope of the gospel and offers practical help to those impacted by disability.

She is an advocate for those with disabilities and the author of forty-eight at least 48 books. She is also an artist, having learned to paint with a brush between her teeth. Joni does all this and more from her wheelchair.

And after battling Stage 3 breast cancer in 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer again two months ago.

Why breast cancer? Why now? Rather than ask these kinds of questions, Joni viewed her cancer through a different lens. She has often said that “our afflictions come from the hand of our all-wise and sovereign God.” This diagnosis is no different.

When she was first diagnosed eight years ago, Joni noted with her characteristic sense of humor, “Although cancer is something new, I am content to receive from God whatever He deems fit for me – even if it is from His left hand (better from His left hand, than no hand at all, right?!).”

Joni did not ask why because she was already sure of the answer. She went on to say, “Yes, it’s alarming, but rest assured that Ken and I are utterly convinced that God is going to use this to stretch our faith, brighten our hope, and strengthen our witness to others…”

She added, “For years I have hoped that my quadriplegia might encourage people struggling with cancer… now I have a chance to truly empathize and journey alongside, affirming that God’s grace is always sufficient for whatever the disease or disability.”

After receiving this repeat diagnosis, Joni said, “What good is it if we only trust the Lord when we understand His ways? That only guarantees a life filled with doubts.”

It’s easy for us to quote Scripture when life is pleasant. But when we’re confronted with a dreaded diagnosis, the death of a loved one, or a financial loss, can we say with Joni, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:5-6)?

When confronted with suffering, often our first inclination is to ask, Why? Perhaps a better question to ask is, Why not? We live in a sin-sick world. God never promised us a life free from trouble. However, we can choose how we will respond to the uncertainties and difficulties of life.

I love how Joni puts it: “Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.”

What next step is God calling you to take today in faith?


Thankful for the Assurance of Heaven

In honor of Thanksgiving, I considered writing a post about all the things for which I’m thankful. Then I considered writing a post about all the things for which others should be thankful.

But I decided to get ultra-personal.

Those who know me personally know my husband graduated to heaven this past summer. What you may not know is that his last 2 years of life were spent radically different from the decades that preceded them…both physically and spiritually.

This is a bittersweet holiday for me. My first without Russ. Yet I’m incredibly thankful to know he is now with his Savior.

How can I have such assurance? The Bible tells us of heaven. Still, it’s one thing to read about heaven, but it’s another to know it’s true in the face of a terminal illness.

Here’s a link to the testimony Russ shared last May – a testimony shared with the knowledge that his death was a month or two away.

Listen for yourself and then you decide whether my assurance is justified.

Russell Pennington Testimony

 

After you hear it, you’ll know what I know…heaven is real and as the Bible promises, we can, indeed, have the assurance of that destination if we know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

And there’s nothing better to be thankful for than that.


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