I have much to be thankful for this year. January will mark five years since my wife’s breast cancer surgery, after which her chances of recurrence drop significantly. Thinking back to the frightening months following my wife's initial diagnosis, I remember that many doubts and questions dominated my mind. But no question was more paralyzing and difficult to answer than this one, as well as its myriad variations: “Why me, God?”
"God, why did you let my wife get sick with breast cancer? Did we do something wrong? What had we done to deserve this?”
“God, why did you let my church plant close down? Am I a terrible pastor, a failure?"
"God, why have I been unemployed for so long? How am I going to provide for my family, how am I going to afford insurance in case my wife gets sick again?"
"Why God? Why me?"
These are questions that every person asks themselves at some point in their lives. But what sets these questions apart are that they are not just personal but theological in nature, and so lay bare our understanding of self, of God, and of life. As I spent days and nights wrestling with the question, “Why me?” I discovered that two slightly different variations of that question helped transform my lament into thanksgiving. The first question was this:
"Why not me?"
In some way, when I asked the question, "Why me?" there was an assumption that suffering was not supposed to affect me, that it was not appropriate or fair. The entire question that I was asking God was, "God, why me? This kind of thing is not supposed to happen to someone like me. Other people perhaps, but not me."
But the real question is why not ...1