Tag Archives: Margaret Feinberg

The Right to Ask Why

The Right to Ask Why

Our Lord is love and grace … and justice and mercy and wrath … He is All … and thank God He is, because I need Him now and nothing less will do.

I’d texted Paula last night to see how everything was going in Atlanta (where she goes for her cancer treatments).  She was going for scans and we’d been praying for no new activity in her lung or leg – the places where cancer has settled it’s nastiness into her body.  We prayed … asking for healing, perhaps searching for remission, or any positive news that we could hold on to.

I think about something I’ve read over and over again this past week:

Do you cling to the crisis or do you cling to Christ?

In retrospect, I think, how silly we are.  Why don’t we just hold on to Jesus?  Oh He is with us, definitely.  He always goes where he’s wanted.  How nice that no matter how ‘mature’ we are in our Christian walk, He allows us to behave all human-like and attempt to grasp the reins of our situation rather than just slip our hand into His and walk with Him through it.  He never shakes His head in disgust or tsk-tsk’s us when we manage to move around Him, like we never saw Him standing there, and look everywhere else before we come back to Him.  I guess that’s grace, hmmm?

Paula’s reply text comes the following morning.  “We got bad news,” her text read.  “The cancer has spread to my brain.”

I sit there in shock and devastation, my phone slipping from my hand.  Tears immediately well up and spill down my cheeks.  “Why?” I ask God.

It’s such a human thing to ask but I still immediately ask God’s forgiveness for asking it.  Do you think that’s weird?  I don’t.  It’s never weird to talk to God about anything that is on your heart.  But I know He’s not going to tell me why.  It’s a futile question that won’t be answered because His ways are not my ways.  I still feel badly for asking but then I just talk to Him – a river of words gushing out of my soul: Lord, I’m gonna ask why and I’m probably gonna ask why for a long time today, so please just listen. I take a breath and chuckle to myself.  Sometimes I envision Jesus sitting in the chair next to me listening to me prattle.  I imagine He shakes His head silently – even though I know He would never do that.

“Why?” I ask again wiping my eyes. “Oh Lord, why Paula?

“Why not Paula?” I hear in my mind. “Why not you? Or the guy down the block? Or a lady in California? Or a kid in Germany?”

I sit quietly.  Those questions don’t seem very constructive or comforting, but I see God’s point.  Asking ‘why’ doesn’t help move the situation forward.  Asking ‘why’ allows me to sit transfixed by grief without making any progress.

I do one thing that I can right now – get Paula and her husband on the church’s prayer chain and on every prayer warrior’s lips I can think of – and then I pray.  It’s fitting that part one of the post about Ephesians 3:20 had just dropped that morning and so I pray Ephesians 3:20 over Paula.  We definitely need more than I can ask for or imagine.

Then I remember reading a post from one of my favorite bible teachers, Margaret Feinberg.  In her post “How to Cling to God When Everything Falls Apart” Margaret talks about replacing the ‘Why’ question with a ‘Who’ question:

Who is God in this?  This is a daring question to ask.  But such a brave question will not just lead to a deeper connection to God, but to answers that transform us—making us look just a little bit more like Jesus along the way.  You see, God listens to our stinging words, embraces our frail hearts, and meets us where we are.  Nothing is too much for the Holy Who.

As the day wears on I’ve stopped asking why and set my sights firmly on God.  God knows how much my heart aches.  He knows the pain and sadness and frustration that Paula must be feeling.  He knows the heart of her amazing husband, Bob, who has been such a rock throughout this ordeal.  He is within us, between us, going before us, and covering us.  Jesus in our midst.

I wonder if He is crying.

Dear Lord, our almighty Father in Heaven, how grand are your plans and purposes. You are the Alpha and the Omega, without whom we would not be. Let your healing hand of mercy and grace fall gently on my friend and all of your children who suffer from this dreadful disease.  Help us to be constantly touched by Your magnificence, recognize Your wonder, and abide in Your truth. We may ask why, Lord, even though our soul knows that the answer remains with you. Thank you for allowing us the freedom to ask. Propel us to a better future by helping us to not wallow in misery over our present. We love you, Lord. Amen.

Thank you to all who prayed with us this past week.

My heart is full of joy for you.

The 2015 Word and a Giveaway!


I stare at the blank screen wondering what to tell you.  I’ve been away so long it’s almost as if I’m readying for a blind date – or perhaps – waiting to receive a visit from a long-ago friend I haven’t seen in years.  Will we reconnect?  Will we pick right up where we left off?  Or will (heaven forbid!) we sit on opposite ends of the couch – casting sidelong glances, fingers nervously tapping the glass of wine in our hands, wondering when the evening will end or if we can make a break for the door without causing too much commotion.  I hope it’s not like that.  I hope, between us, it’s a quick smile and a warm hug, and we talk on and on well into the night as if we’d just seen each other yesterday.

I open my door to you and open my arms wide.  Welcome, old friend.  Welcome back to the blog.  Welcome to a brand new year of hope and determination and love and laughter.  Oh, there will be tears, and pain, and perhaps sorrow; but we have God within us, God beside us, and God covering us – and we have each other.  We will “fight back with joy”, as my friend Margaret Feinberg (@mafeinberg) says in her latest book which you’ll hear more about shortly.

For now let me bridge the gap by talking about finding “one word” to live your life by or to focus on.  “One Word” is when you adopt a word as an over-arching theme to your year.  Last year God had begun to reiterate the phrase “rivers of living water” in almost everything I read or from everyone I spoke to – about two months before the end of the year.  By the time 2014 started I’d been guided to realize that Rivers of Living Water = Holy Spirit = JOY  (I’m sorry I can’t point you to that post from last year as my hosting platform munched all my history for breakfast one day).

What I found throughout the year is that constant reliance on God brings an avalanche of joy into your life.  Yet, unlike an avalanche that will melt with the spring thaw, joy that rushes into your life does not dissipate – it continues to accumulate.  My body is breaking down at the speed of an oncoming locomotive but somehow I still have joy.  I struggle with completing the book I know God wants me to write, and while others in a similar situation might feel guilt or shame, I have joy.  I am calm.  I don’t worry.  I am jam-packed with peace.  I have chosen to look up and lean on God for e-v-e-r-y thing and have discovered nothing but … JOY.

This year it’s felt a little different.  I really didn’t even think about getting a word for 2015 until about a week ago.  I asked God for a word and several drifted through the upper recesses of my brain, but nothing stuck.  In past years the word has been pretty obvious but this year nothing shouted, “This is your word!”  That is, until this morning.  A beautiful friend gave me Daily Light (originally by Samuel Bagster and updated by Anne Graham Lotz) for Christmas and I used it this morning to begin my prayer time with Our Lord.  Afterward, my word tumbled out of my mouth during prayer:

“Lord help me to be more consistent in my writing …”

When the word “consistent” hit the early morning air of my bedroom, my heart leapt and I smiled – wide and bright and so deeply satisfied.  There you are word, I said to myself.  I think I can easily work consistency into every part of my life – time with God – writing – friendship – blogging – health matters – family matters – employment matters.  I can’t wait to see how being consistent will benefit me this year.  I can already envision a deeper walk with The Almighty, a published book (maybe two!), deeper & more meaningful friendships, and happier readers just to name a few!  I promise to keep you informed of any ground-breaking insights along the way!

This year I am giving away the very last desk calendar available from my photo studio.  If you would like some of my photography to grace your desk, just comment below with your word or a resolution for 2015 and perhaps share the blog with a friend (not necessary, but nice!).  I’ll draw a winner Sunday evening (1/4/15 after 5pm EST) and announce next Monday.  Below you’ll find a few pictures.

Good Luck!  And Happy New Year!

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