How can someone be here one minute and gone the next? How can life be going so well and then come undone? How can I feel fine one day and get this diagnosis the next? How can I buy a home and then find out later they’re doing away with my job? Why did this have to happen?
If you’ve ever experienced life threatening news, you know these questions. You’ve asked these questions. You’ve looked for answers to these questions. Maybe you’re still looking for answers.
All you want to know is, “Why did this have to happen?”
In my years as a counselor, minister, and hospice chaplain I’ve watched a lot of people wrestle with this question. There have even been times I was the one asking “Why did this have to happen?”
Let me say upfront, I don’t have a good answer to “Why did this have to happen?” Even if I did, the answer wouldn’t seem satisfactory. Still, I have learned something about the question itself that has been helpful.
There are two types of “Why did this have to happen?”
- The first comes early in the experience. It comes out of the anguish of the heart. It’s a release of pain, not a request for answers. Answers this early are usually unsatisfactory…no mater how correct the answers might be.
- The second comes later in the experience, after the hurt and pain have settled and the person has had some time to adjust. This question is more about understanding than venting. Logical and theological answers are more helpful here than earlier.
If you’re trying to help someone who’s hurting and asking “Why did this have to happen?” remember this…
- If it’s early in the experience, “Why did this have to happen?” is an expression of pain and calls for empathy, compassion, and support…not answers.
- If it’s later in the experience, “Why did this have to happen?” is a call for understanding. Answers are more appropriate here, but use them sparingly and cautiously.
On another level…
God understands such hurt and questioning, even giving it a place in His Word. (Psalm 13) He assures us that He will be there when the hurt is beyond words. (Rom. 8:26) He also shows us that there are times when just being present is more important than having answers. (Job 2:11-13)
We may have to wait on the answer to “Why did this have to happen?” But there will be a time when everything will make more sense. (1 Cor. 13:12) Till then, may God hold you up, keep you strong, and see you through.
Be an encouragement to someone by leaving a comment and sharing how you got through a “Why did this have to happen?” time.
Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg