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I Started Asking a Different Question


I Started Asking a Different Question

I tore into the Taco Bell parking lot, took a sharp right and threw my 4-Runner into park. I yelled aloud to my empty car:

“WHY?! Why did you do this? Why did you let me get pregnant and then take that baby away? Why didn’t you save her? Why did you let us go through 2 years of infertility just to add this to it?”

And the “Why?” questions continued. They poured out through streaming tears on my cheeks. I yelled them all until I had no more “Why’s?” left. Exhausted, I sat in the silence. And in the silence, I heard the quiet and familiar voice of the God who has been my friend since childhood.

“What answer could I give to you that would satisfy you, Lindsay?”

I realized there wasn’t really one that would satisfy. Asking “Why?” made me fixate on my pain and obsessed for a way to stop it. In that moment I realized I was looking to the answer to the question “Why?” to justify the suffering and in turn, end the pain. I thought if I had a good enough “why”, I could heal, I could stop falling apart at random times during the day, I could let go of this lingering melancholy. If I could get the answer to the question “Why?” I would feel the power of knowing, and I thought that knowing would take away the powerless that seemed to be swallowing me whole. If I knew “why” then maybe I could begin making a plan of action to change some things. But the answer to “why” cannot provide that.

“Why?” looks at loss rationally. It weighs in the balance the loss and the reason for the loss and deduces that if the reason for the loss outweighs or at least comes out even with the thing lost, then mourning will not need to take place. Grief is not a rational balance. Grief is the outworking of major feelings like love, hope, despair, depression and powerlessness. Loss must be grieved, regardless of the “why”. There is no circumventing it.

I was only half convinced. I persisted asking questions, secretly hoping I would somehow stump the Almighty.

“What then, what in the world do you want me to learn?”

I figured I better get on with it and learn my lesson so I could get out of this season ASAP. And hopefully never repeat it.

I distinctly heard “Wrong question.”

I ran through what questions could be left: Why, what, where, when, how, who. Who.

And the words of Jesus reverberated “Who do you say that I am?”

I took a deep breath and said “Fine, who are you?”

I began to examine what I believed about God’s nature in the midst of wrestling with infertility and subsequent miscarriage. In considering those beliefs I realized I behaved as if God was distant, cool and calculating. I felt He was cruel, mean spirited and unsympathetic to my pain. I believed He was intentionally withholding something good from me. I believed that because I had been a good Christian and because I had already experienced infertility, He owed me a child. I thought that upon hearing my weeping, He felt nothing. It wasn’t that hard to uncover these thoughts, these were the words uttered throughout my prayers for the last several months before this moment in a Taco Bell parking lot.

I yelled all of these things at God. I accused Him, loudly, of all these things. I shook my fist at Him, daily. I harbored these thoughts in my heart to justify stiff arming Him and nursing my pain. And yet here He was, in the parking lot of Taco Bell, still pursuing, still leading, still gently shepherding me.

In the subsequent months I took a look at a few people in the Bible who experienced suffering and how God responded to their suffering. I wanted to know if they got an answer to “Why?”

Job asked for an umpire to explain his suffering and he got a 4 chapter treatise on the acts and nature of God.

Jacob wrestled for a blessing but saw the face of God instead.

Joseph was enslaved and imprisoned and found that God turns evil to good.

Moses feared his inability to speak and the power of the Pharaoh but God revealed His name “I Am”.

The nation of Israel wondered, hungered and thirsted and God did it all that Israel would know the Lord.

Jesus died so that men may have access to eternal life which He says is knowing God.

When Paul suffered the loss of all things, the loss paled in comparison to knowing Christ.

God seemed fiercely concerned with answering the question “Who?” and much less consistent in answering “Why?” or “What?”. So, of course, as my question changed, the ways God answered me changed and I met a whole new Savior.

I met the Savior of Isaiah 53 who ran into my pain, carried my sorrows and shouldered my grief. I saw for the first time the God-Man who voluntarily left His comfort and glory to endure hardship and death for my sake. I met the sympathetic High Priest of Hebrews 4 who when I approach Him in pain, weakness, and sorrow puts His hands on me and says “I know.” I know I’ve been born again since I was 15 but this person I had never seen before; not with this much clarity, not with this much tenderness.

And then I stumbled, it seems, onto the greatest treasure of the darkest season of my life: Jesus. Knowing Him, not from the head but from the gut. Something so deeply inside me had truly come to know Him, His nature, and His ways. Love uncontrollably erupted out of me. This knowing Him changed everything.

This wasn’t overnight. It was over the course of two years, possibly three and something that continues to shape and inform me. But the more I knew of His character, the more I could come in prayer and find grace and help while I was in great need. Knowing Him allowed me to come to Him so I could be healed. When I accused Him of things that were not His nature, I stood far off and slowly wasted away. Knowing Him returned joy to my life because His friendship became satisfying. Knowing Him gave me hope because He says things like “I am the Living One, I was dead, and now I live forever.” Although I had experienced death in miscarriage, I believed He would bring life and resurrection somehow – because that’s who He is.

I realized in grieving I had made pain the enemy, the thing to be avoided when really it can be a treasured ally; the thing that drags us lifeless to Christ.

Coming in great need is the best way to come to God. It magnifies His ability to meet our need while shattering any delusion of our own strength. Slowly I stopped praying for the pain to go away and instead prayed for grace to endure so that the gold God intended to purify could come forth.

I don’t know where you are in this journey but I could guess. You may be having your own Taco Bell parking lot conversations with God. You may be tired of even asking these questions. You could even be making peace with where you are, just feeling a bit confused. I feel ya. I really do. I hope this will encourage you to keep asking questions and keep the communication line between you and God open, even if it’s a little heated.

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©2017 BY EMILY GENTILES - TRYING COLLECTIVE