When we have a problem or a need we turn to God because we know that He is all-powerful and nothing is impossible for Him. But the answer is delayed or does not come. Why?
Imagine all the stress: Mary was pregnant with her first child which was the Son of God! Couldn’t God, in His omnipotence, find a place in an inn for Mary to give birth in nice conditions? God is infinitely able, and Mary had faith in God… so why did she have to give birth in a stable?!
“Why?” It is not said in the Bible if Mary asked this question as her contractions started. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 NASB). Put yourself in her shoes. She is on the brink of giving birth and her husband knocks at all the inns of Bethlehem to ask for a room. Door after door, the answer is always “no, sorry, go see elsewhere”. Wouldn’t you have been discouraged? Maybe even angry with God! “I’ve been carrying your child for 9 months Lord, and you can not even provide a room for me?! You who are all-powerful, you can not free one room for me?!”
Several hundred years later, theologians tell us that this birth was a symbol. The closed doors represented the closed hearts of the Jews, the manger was parallel to Jesus being the bread of life, and so on. Beautiful explanations, which certainly did not pass through Mary’s mind while she and her husband collected refusals. Perhaps she prayed for God to act, to find a solution. They found a place… dirty and smelled of excrement, but hey!
Don’t we all have that kind of struggle? We know that God is almighty and that He can save us, or get us out of this or that situation… but He doesn’t do it. We know that God could even create us a partner if He wanted to, and we are His child, so we know that He has our good at heart. But like Mary, all doors seem closed in front of us. So why doesn’t He do something? Why?
A question that rarely gets an answer. Religious people will sometimes tell us that it is our fault: we do not have enough faith, or we commit too many sins. Others will say that “the ways of God are unfathomable” (Romans 11:33 NASB), which does not help us to understand. Others will answer: “It is because if God answered you, He knows that it would bring you even more troubles… you will understand why one day”. Answers that seek to comfort us, but lack compassion.
So what should we do when we have a “why” question and frustrations? Just like any other challenge: look to God. First, remember that His love does not change and does not fluctuate according to our circumstances. He showed us once and for all at the cross, and there is no greater proof possible (Romans 5:8). If we remove the “doubt” aspect of our reasoning, that we do not doubt His love despite our circumstances, we are already in a better position.
Then we choose to look at our situation from an eternal perspective. Our struggle has a limited time, while our life is eternal (where you spend your eternity is your choice). “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NASB). Even though Mary’s birth was a stressful and painful moment, three weeks later she wasn’t even thinking about it anymore. All our trials have a deadline.
Focusing on the love of God and our eternal life will not give us the answer to the question “why”, but it will help us to keep peace and faith through the test.