If the cry of ‘No!’ is one we may feel uncomfortable about, since it seems so wrong, the same cannot be said for the next word. This word is one we’re all familiar with and it’s rarely far from our lips; it’s the word ‘Why?’
‘Why?’ though, is a dangerous word. It can be used in a healthy and proper way, like in the Psalms of Lament. When we use it this way, ‘Why?’ helps our faith in Jesus to be stretched and searched, it puts our faith through a refining fire as it confronts those things in our hearts and minds which may be a hindrance to our following Jesus. However, there is an unhealthy way when we allow ‘Why?’ to act like a narcotic t0 dull us from the heartache and difficulties of perplexity. ‘Why?’ used this way allows to hide behind tired cliches and sayings because we do not want ‘No!’ to do its necessary work within us.
The heart of ‘Why?’, when used like a lament, tells us we will never grasp or get all the answers we may want. Like a lament we cry that we do not understand what is happening here but in faith we realise it is not about knowing everything but instead trusting when under this shadow of not knowing.
The soul of ‘Why?’, when used like a lament, is to dare to believe God can be trusted when we don’t know everything. It dares to say that I trust in this God whose ways are beyond my knowing or understanding but who, I know, acts out of love. It is to embrace the hard saying of walking by faith and not by sight.
The mind of ‘Why?’, when used like a lament, dares to believe that good can come out of what I am going through. It is not merely about my becoming a better person, since that trivialises the cry of ‘No!’ into being just a self-help exercise. Rather ‘Why?’ grasps the bigger perspective that this time of grief and sorrow I am in can be used by God for the benefit and blessing of others in ways I am not aware of. ‘Why?’ opens our eyes to realise that suffering and difficulty have redemptive power in the plans and purposes of God.
‘Why?’ is a word rooted in faith, this is how Jesus used it when on the cross. But he did not just say ‘Why?’, he added ‘My!’ in his prayer as he reminded himself that he was loved by God. Jesus used ‘Why?’ in a healthy way not because he was looking for an answer, but because he entrusted himself to God’s loving care.