The power of changing your question

Remember how I shared a little reflection about making plans in my previous post?
Turns out I needed that reminder for myself many times the last few weeks. Our trip to Virginia became a windy road of delay, sickness, car trouble, more sickness, more car trouble and then a little more sickness. Yet here we are.
Through the rain and mud we finally made it to the CRI base and spent the first few days in bed. It was not the arrival I had dreamed of and I was fighting disappointment. Selfishly I was irritated with Wes for being so sick (sorry, babe). I felt quite alone in this new place where I didn’t know a soul, except for the one coughing his lungs out on my bed. My attitude needed some serious regulation. Does anyone relate to this feeling of being in over your head with disappointment?
When things don’t go the way I want, hope or plan I have a tendency to become like a repetitive toddler, asking God why, why, why, whining my day away, my face gloomy like the grey Virginia sky.

As it usually happens, Wes got better. The sun came out. I asked for forgiveness for my lousy attitude and we recovered from disappointment as life on the base unfolded around us.
Learning the stories of people here, we realized that we were not the only ones who had experienced delay in coming to this place. Other people, who had given up many things to follow God’s voice when he called them, ran into one obstacle after the other as they made their way to this remote camp in Virginia. It must have been discouraging. Why did it go like this?

Many of us make the mistake of thinking that God owes us a smooth ride when we follow his guidance in life. I’ll follow you, if you make it easy, we think.
That mindset is not rooted in truth and causes us unnecessary pain on the path we tread. If we believe that God calls us and then takes us from A to B in a whim, we will be frustrated with God and start accusing him of being confusing or forgetful. We will be second-guessing if we really heard him right, we will wonder if it is worth it?

Why isn’t God helping me? Why is there so many obstacles? Why do you not intervene? Why does it hurt?

This is where asking why leads us: often empty and angry, without answers. Not because God is unwilling to answer even our stupid questions, but I think we could learn to trust God more if we learn to change our question.

Finally on the other side of all the bumps in road, I looked out on the snowy trees behind my cabin and started to wonder if instead of asking God why, perhaps I should ask him what.
What do you have for me at the CRI base, since there is such resistance to getting there? It must be good, I suddenly realized.
Changing the question is changing our attitude and putting ourselves in a place where we can receive what God has planned to give us. Most of the time a why-question implies a lack of trust, and we rarely receive revelation that helps us move on, by getting our whimpering why’s answered.
Instead of asking “Why is this so hard?” try saying “What is your promise to me in hard times, God? What are you showing me through this?

When you find yourself askingWhy do I have to wait for so long?” try asking “How I do to make the most of what I have? What are you showing me in the waiting?

Why doesn’t this person like me?
How about “How can I love this person like Jesus?”

Why aren’t things going my way?” we ask the Lord, but wouldn’t we benefit from utilizing what we already know about him (that he is good, trustworthy, comforting etc.) and ask “What does your way look like, God? What is your promise to me in this time? How can I honor you on this path, that I didn’t expect?

In the times we want to cry WHY?! we often miss what God is actually doing, which is inviting us into deeper trust, sincere surrender and learning to be content in all circumstances. We can learn from Paul in this area. This verse doesn’t sound like a man who needs to ask God why he is hungry and in need, does it?

 .. for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

By asking what or how questions we set ourselves up for proactivity, we train our eyes to look for God’s promises in every area of life and most importantly, we shift our mindset from a position of lack to a place, where we actively look for solutions and hope. Asking the right questions leads to faith and to partnering with Jesus in the situation. Why often leads to doubt, entitlement or offense, because we think God owes it to us to explain everything. Many times, he doesn’t disclose the why’s for our protection. When we try to put God in debt to us, by demanding that he makes everything clear to our human minds, we rob ourselves from the amazing opportunities of walking in faith and contentment.

I want to grow in this. By no means do I claim to master the art of asking questions. In fact, I can think of many times in my life, where I wish I had asked another question, a question that led me to God’s faithfulness, to his promises and his solutions instead of questions that led me to accuse him or doubt his goodness.
All that being said, I do believe we will all continue to ask God why every now and then. Indeed, there is a time and place for it, and he is good enough to whisper his almighty understanding into our ears. But if he doesn’t, guard your heart from becoming bitter and hostile towards the Lord. He is your good Father. He doesn’t give you a stone when you ask for bread. He gives us what we need, so thank him – whether you understand or not. Keep this truth in your heart when you fumble for reasons and then ask another question. He is not a silent God.

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