Faith and Family

Jones: We need to ask God the right question

By Lynn Jones

As I sat on the patio swatting at a fly with one hand and trying to eat a dessert with the other, I thought of Ogden Nash’s couplet. He wrote: “God in His wisdom made the fly/And then forgot to tell us why.”         

God has a habit of doing that sort of thing. He is always doing things without telling us why. In spite of His silence at those points, we continue to go through life asking, “Why?” In fact, when we face some troubling event, it’s often the first question to tumble from our lips.

Lynn Jones

In the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye is the village dairyman. He is a man with some faith, but he constantly complains to God about the way He is running things on earth. One day as he prepared to hook his horse to the cart, Tevye discovered that the horse was lame in one leg, and so Tevye himself was forced to pull the cart through the village. As he did so, he complained to God. He said, “My horse is lame, so I pull the cart. Today I am a horse. Where is the justice? If I can pull this cart with two legs, why can’t my horse pull it with three?” 

Why? That is our persistent question. Even Christ, as He became sin for us, asked the question from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Job in his time of suffering repeatedly asked that question of God. In spite of the question, God never gave Job a direct answer. Why doesn’t God answer the question?

C. S. Lewis said that God could give us such an answer, but that we would not be able to understand it. The purposes of God and the events of life are far too complicated for us to understand. Lewis said that if God had tried to answer Job’s “why?” question it would have been like Einstein’s trying to explain the theory of relativity to a small-necked crab.

A far better question for us to ask is the “How?” question. How can I cope with this problem? How can I face the future with this overwhelming burden? That is the question that God most frequently answers. He answers it with words like, “My Grace is sufficient for you.” “Come unto me, all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 

What we need most in life is not a neat explanation of the complexities that we face. What we need most is His presence and His power in our lives. That is exactly what God gives us. 

Vance Havner said that as we struggle with Why, we can look forward to a day when we will no longer ask the question. Instead, “alas” will become “alleluia,” and question marks will be straightened into exclamation points!

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: