“Why Won’t Jesus Make Me Better?”

“Why Won’t Jesus Make Me Better?”

 

Why won’t Jesus make me better?

One of the hardest situations I remember as a mom was having a miserable, sick child. Especially when the child asked me, “Why won’t Jesus make me better? I prayed, you prayed, Dad prayed. Jesus could do it, but he won’t.”

Obviously, it’s not a question only children ask. Basically Phillip Yancey’s Where is God When it Hurts? addresses the same question powerfully. And it’s not an easy question to answer. For ourselves or for our children. I’ve always struggled with that question. The hardest times were when the question came from our most black-and-white child. She was usually the quickest to assume Jesus would answer our prayers. But then she also was the quickest to wonder why when he chose not to answer the way she expected. Her disappointment was hard for me to watch.

My struggles to answer her.

I remember struggling to answer her. God answered prayers–I knew that. I even knew of miraculous answers to some prayers. But I also knew God’s answers are often not what we are hoping for. Yet, how do you explain to a child that God loves us immensely and still allows us significant pain?

With great difficulty. And great humility.

Not knowing.

I remember saying “I don’t know” a lot. I also said that I knew sickness was one result of human sin. And that sickness is not a result of the sick person’s sin but the state of the sinful world. I remember thinking of the blind man Jesus healed, when my daughter asked me why God was punishing her. She wondered what sin God was punishing her for. I recalled John 9:1-12, where Jesus tells his disciples that the man’s blindness is not a result of someone’s sin. It was a vehicle for God to glorify himself through Jesus’ miraculous healing.

Of course, my daughters would have loved to be miraculously healed to bring someone to faith. Wouldn’t we all? The tricky thing is that God glorifies himself in different ways in different times and places.

God working in our pain.

The other thing that always struck me in those difficult times is the fact that God uses our pain to bring us to himself. As C.S. Lewis explains in The Problem of Pain, “[P]ain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Obviously, it would not have helped to share that quote with my four-year-old daughter. She was already looking to God. So she did not need his megaphone at that moment. She needed to be reassured of God’s love in her pain. But her pain was God’s megaphone to get my attention and to give me a teachable moment to share with her.

No pain in heaven.

What I told my daughter is a different part of that process. God also uses our pain to remind us that this is not our true home. Our true home is in heaven with him. There we will never be sick or hurting. I told her that being sick could help her value the knowledge that heaven would someday be painless. Honestly, if life on earth were painless, we would have a lot harder time longing for heaven. Pain and sickness are earthly results of the Fall that make us yearn for God and his perfect home.

Easy answer?

Did that solve the problem for my daughter? Or for me? Obviously not. But it gave us a teachable moment and an opportunity to focus intensely on God’s work in our lives. It emphasized his sovereignty and his love. For me it also emphasized my dependence on God. I had no idea how to answer my daughter. So, I was forced to pray a lot while trying to answer her questions–and mine.

And isn’t that the point of a megaphone? It gets our attention. Every time one of my daughters asked me, “Why won’t Jesus make me better?” God had my full attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children Questioning Why: Fruitful Inquiry

Children Questioning Why: Fruitful Inquiry

Children Questioning Why

Thinking back to my years of children questioning why, I remember wondering if their questions would ever end. But they always did. Because their “But why?” always led me to the only final answer: “Because that’s the way God made it.”

With my first child, I remember thinking she would not be satisfied by that answer. And she did always initially ask why God had made that choice.

But when I told her that I didn’t know and we could ask him when we got to heaven, that seemed to satisfy her. Until she thought of her next question.

The pattern repeated itself with my other two children. Always curious. Always wanting to know why. And always wanting to know why about the answer.

Each child repeated the pattern of questioning a surprising number of times .

“Why can’t we see the end of the lake? If there’s land on the other side, why can’t we see it?”

“Why does it get dark at night?”

“But why do I have to sleep at night?”

“How do you know candy is bad for me?”

“But why do dogs bark? And why are they so loud?”

“Why do the leaves turn different colors?”

I started thinking my children questioning why were a sign of the God-shaped vacuums within them.

When Pascal said that each person is created with a God-shaped vacuum within, I don’t think he meant only adults. Our children’s questions also demonstrate their need to know who God is and what he is like.

Their native curiosity demonstrates their growing intelligence, but their willingness to accept God as the ultimate answer is powerful.

They know he is the prime mover. They couldn’t tell us that. But they know its truth instinctively. They know the truth is bigger than us as human beings.

Our need to tell them this truth is just as important.

We need to explain that we don’t know why some fish are created to live in salt water, some in fresh water, and some in both. Because our children need to know we don’t know everything. We may want them to think we know everything. But they need to know we don’t.

And our need to acknowledge that God knows so much that we can’t possibly know fits with our own God-shaped vacuums. We may not always feel the need to tell our children that we are limited.

But it’s an important part of our modeling dependence on him.

And, when we think about it, don’t we as adults constantly have questions we can’t find answers to?

I used to think I had so many questions I planned to ask God as soon as I got to heaven. Then I started thinking I wouldn’t need to ask him when I got there. I would already know. But now the more I learn about the new heavens and the new earth, the more I think learning will be one of the continual gifts of eternal life.

Learning is one of the prime gifts God gives us on earth, so it makes sense that our process of learning in heaven might be even more magnificent.

[photo by joshua-alfaro-353879-unsplash]