Welcome to week 4 of the When God Doesn’t Fix It Bible Study!
Have you ever been close to someone who went through a terrible crisis? Have you ever watched their pain, tears, questions, and wrestling with God shift to peace, acceptance, and faith?
One of the reasons I love this Bible Study is getting to see Laura’s face and hear her voice as she expounds Scripture and shares her own broken story. It’s her countenance. Do you sense that calm, too? You know she’s weathered the fiercest storm, and yet she’s found her rest in Jesus. Isn’t that beautiful?
Sometimes I feel like my appearance on this faith journey looks more a crazy middle-of-the-night mug shot than the beautiful and wise portrait that Laura exudes. Like I need to brush my hair, fix my smeary makeup for heaven’s sake, and have a deep breath and cup of coffee before I say a word! Just watching Laura teach gives me strength and exhorts me to face difficulties with a little more peace and a little less freak out. Do you know what I mean? Anyone?
This week we’re in Session Four “Why? The Question on Replay” and for the study you will:
1. Watch the video for Week 4 on DVD or right here on FaithGateway. Don’t forget you have just one week to watch the video, so try to view it before next Sunday. We’ll have a catch-up week July 24-30 if you missed any of the previous weeks’ videos.
2. Go through the discussion questions for Session 4 in the When God Doesn’t Fix It Study Guide (pages 75-85). You can answer these questions whether you’re meeting with a small group, or in a church setting with others, or on your own. We also tackle these questions in our Thursday online group discussions.
3. For your personal study this week, answer the study questions each day in the When God Doesn’t Fix It Study Guide (pages 87-98, the gray section).
This week we are reading John 9:1-12; John 9:35-39; and John 11:1-46 in the personal study. Here are Days 1-5 of your personal study in the study guide:
- Day 1: Darkness and Light
- Day 2: Missing the Point
- Day 3: The Why Question
- Day 4: The Enemy of Death
- Day 5: Resurrection and Life
4. Recommended (but optional) reading for this week: Read chapters 10-12 in When God Doesn’t Fix It – the paperback companion book, not study guide.
God is good and is unable to be anything but good and perfect in all of His ways. And, God is sovereign. — Laura Story
John (nicknamed “Spanky” from The Little Rascals) and Carol were a wonderful couple in our church whom I met about 30 years ago and they became very dear friends. Spanky is a jack-of-all-trades, a real renaissance man. He is a musician, artist, and poet, but the chief source of his income is from his carpentry business. Carol was in real estate and was a huge success at it until she retired. I’ve never met two happier opposites. Spanky is wild, Carol steady. Spanky has all the grand ideas, Carol keeps her feet on the ground. Spanky is spontaneous, Carol a planner. Spanky is boisterous, larger-than-life, and funny. Carol more quiet and content to throw the party rather than be the center of attention. Just thinking about how God chooses to weave together two radically different creatures and makes yin and yang one-flesh like He did with them makes me smile and laugh.
Carol and Spanky worked and saved for forty years for their retirement dream: a home in Kauai, Hawaii — right on the water with room enough for all their children and grandchildren to visit whenever they could. And, they did it! They built a beautiful hale with a lava stone path down to the beach, water fountains, a koi pond filled with fat, happy fish, a lovely garden thick with flowering vines, spiky birds of paradise, hot pink ginger, white and yellow plumeria, orchids, palms, koa trees, and a big ‘ohi’a tree covered in orangey-red blossoms. Heaven on earth!
In their first week living there while construction was wrapping up, Carol fell. She was struggling with vertigo and just felt a little “off” but didn’t think much of it. Back on the mainland, she agreed to see a doctor and then a specialist and they finally got the shocking news: it was brain cancer.
Carol fought the good fight and then a year later, she kissed her beloved husband for a final time and passed away into Glory.
The question on replay in everyone’s hearts was why?
Why Carol of all people? Why not an ISIS commander, or a corrupt spiritual leader, or a rapist? Why lovely Carol who was a phenomenal mom to her four kids, a grandmother to seven, an essential wife and partner, and a servant in the church?
Why did God take her when she was still so young? Why right when everything they’d worked for was finally in their grasp? Why was God leaving Spanky alone without the love of his life?
Did Carol commit some grievous sin? Did Spanky? Was there someone to blame?
As Laura points out in this week’s video, that’s often what many Christians ask, and it’s the same basic human response we see in John 9:2:
Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Or was it God who was to blame? How could He be good if He let her die such a cruel death?
Why didn’t the Lord heal her? When someone we love dies, we can help but feel the angst of Martha after Lazarus’ death in John 11:21:
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
And Mary in John 11:32:
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
How can we not ask God why during times of life-rocking grief, or crisis, or shock? We have to wrestle with whether or not we believe that God is good no matter what happens. No matter what we lose, or what gets stolen from us, or what injustice happens, or what suffering befalls our lives. We have to grapple with God. We may not ever know the answers to our questions, but that’s not really the point anyway, is it? It’s that we have to take ourselves to God and to God alone and sit in the suffering and the tears and be comforted like only He can comfort.
In the shortest verse Scripture, we get a glimpse as Jesus’ compassion for us in our suffering.
Jesus wept. — John 11:35
Even though He knows that He’s going to raise Lazarus from the dead, He felt heartbreak at his death, deep grief for his sisters and friends, and He was moved to tears! Does that comfort you as it does me?
At Carol’s funeral, the faith words on our mouths were mahalo nui loa, thank You so much, God, for our dear friend. We don’t know why. But, we trust that You are good. You are good. You are good. Thank You for all the good You did in and through Carol’s life that reached far and wide and touched and helped so many with her faith, her kindness, her wisdom, her skills and talents, and her love.
Aloha nui loa, Carol. So much love. A hui kaua — until we meet again. Soon and very soon.
What are your why’s?
What remains unanswered for you? What are you doing with that painful question? Have you taken it to God yet?
Prayer for the Week
Jesus, we love You! Thank You that You understand human suffering. Thank You for entering humanity to walk among us in this painful, broken place. When we come up against confusing, shocking, dreadful times of suffering, thank You for not being offended for our why’s. Thank You that we can approach Your throne of grace and receive comfort, and understanding, and eventually even hope. You are good. You are good. You are good. Even if we never know why, God, we declare that You are good. We love you. Amen.
If you could have an hour-long conversation with God, what are some “why” questions you would ask? How do you think having the answers to those questions would impact your life? Join the conversation with others going through the study this week in the comments below or on our video page.