I am not unfamiliar with pain and grief.  I've had enough of it to last a lifetime--in fact a lot of it has lasted my lifetime, up until now anyway.  I'm praying that will change.  So I don't come upon this subject with a callous or cold heart.  I come at it from someone who is on this side of it  still. 

When tragedy strikes us, so often I've heard the phrase, and said it myself, "Why me?" 

Why do I feel I should be immune to pain and suffering?  Why did I grow up believing that, as a Christian, I wouldn't suffer, because after all the Bible says all things work for good; God has planned good for us, not evil; God places his angels to guard us lest we cast our foot against a stone.  And I've heard about the power of God--if someone or something evil is threatening you, just speak the word and God will take care of it.  Or how about, "Christians don't get depressed?"  I shared with a group of ladies many years ago that I was depressed.  Immediately someone said that phrase to me.  I sat there thinking, "But I am a Christian and I am depressed." 

I also believed, as I was told, that if I prayed hard enough and read the Bible enough, I would walk in victory--and I don't mean in reference to sin--I mean victory as in nothing bad will happen, or if it does, such as  someone you love dying, or someone deeply hurting you,  you will be able to rejoice through it all.  Or if you should come down with a terminal illness, you will be healed.  Well, at least in my life and in the lives of those around me, this isn't true.   Somehow it seems that since we have a relationship with the King of Kings, God himself, that all we have to do is pray and 'voila' everything is fine.  And there are certainly stories to back up those claims. 

But what are we really saying when we ask, "Why me?" 

For me, saying "Why me?" is saying: 

    • "What did I do to deserve this?" 
    • "Why of all the people here did this have to happen to me?" 
    • "After all I've done, or been through, how could you let this happen?" 
    • "I'm a good person, why not let it happen to someone who is wicked?" 
You may have some other things to add to this list.  I've done a lot of thinking about those two words lately and I've come up with another phrase to counter it:  "Why not me?" 

Who do I think I am that I should have special privileges others don't have?  Who do I think I am that I can believe I don't deserve it, but someone else does?  We are all undeserving of God's grace.  None of us are any better than anyone else.  We say that, but do we really believe it?  And the thing that bothers me most about the "Why me?" is that although unspoken and perhaps not even thought about, we are saying God should have let it happen to another family, another child, another husband or wife.

I remember hearing a story about a little girl in a counselor's office dealing with the pain of her father's abuse of her.  The counselor told her to imagine Jesus coming in the room and stopping her daddy.  But I thought, "That's a lie."  Jesus didn't stop her father, and it wasn't fair.  How could he watch and not do something?  Here he has all power in his hands and could have struck him dead if he wanted to, but he didn't even make someone come in the room or house to stop this man. 

The thing I've learned is that God has given each of us a free will and sometimes someone else's free will hurts me.  I no longer believe that God has anything to do with it, in that he doesn't cause it to happen.  And if he intervened and stopped each of us from doing something wrong, we'd all be toast. 

I've learned  that it does indeed rain on the just and the unjust, although it seems there is more injustice than justice.  If I get mugged, robbed, beaten, or someone I love is killed by a drunk driver or rapist, or drive-by shooting, it's not God who is doing it.  He doesn't want this stuff to happen even more than we don't.  He is more passionate about the evil in this world than we could ever be.  But I repeat, he has given each of us a free will. Unfortunately all of us in some way abuse that freedom and hurt ourselves, God, and others. 

Asking myself, "Why not me?" I think puts things in a better perspective.  I am admitting my own shortcomings, that I am no better than anyone else from God's perspective, and that I don't deserve special treatment. 

In an even deeper sense,  I've heard "Why not me?" although not those exact words.  I was touched by a father who stood in church whose son was stricken with MS and possibly dying, and he said with all his heart, "I don't understand why God let it happen to my son and not me.  I wish it was me instead."   It can be more difficult to watch those we love suffer than to suffer ourselves. "Why did this have to happen to you?  Why not me?" 

So the next time something bad happens to you and you hear yourself thinking or saying, "Why me?", stop and think about what those two words really mean. 

Ask not, "Why me?", rather ask, "Why not me?"


From Our Readers:

Interesting way of looking at a sensitive subject. It takes the focus away from injustice to me and puts it in a much broader picture of injustice to mankind.  No one is immune to pain and injustice.  For me, the thought is changed to, "Now what can I do with this (___) that has come to me? Can someone else be helped through it?"   Poppel