When You Wonder Why God Chose You For Tribulation
Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.
“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,” begins an old song, but today the words might be more accurate: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but my best friend, my neighbor, my mother, my dentist, and some woman I sat next to on the bus yesterday.”
In one of the earliest of all recorded dramas of the Bible, the book of Job records the words of Eliphaz, saying, “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). What was true 5,000 years ago is also true today.
Troubles come in all sizes, kinds and descriptions. For centuries, people have thought that if you were just good enough, holy enough, or righteous enough, you would be spared trouble. But the fact is, troubles are the result of living in an imperfect, broken, sinful world. None of us are good enough to be spared; none of us are bad enough to be excluded from God’s help when they come. When troubles descend on us, we usually start looking for reasons as our hearts cry, “Why, God? Why me?” It’s the wrong thing to ask, and there is never a right answer to a wrong question.
Arthur Ashe understood this. His life was cut short by HIV as the result of a blood transfusion following heart surgery. Ashe was a tremendous man, a great athlete and a role model. He was the kind of person who has not only made his mark in life but served as a tremendous encourager to those who were struggling to find themselves.
When he was tempted to ask, “Why me?” he said, “If I asked, ‘Why me?’ about my troubles, I would have to ask, ‘Why me?’ about my blessings. Why my winning Wimbledon? Why my marrying a beautiful, gifted woman and having a wonderful child?”
Stanley Collins could appreciate that attitude. This gifted Bible teacher and conference speaker was felled by a heart attack, and as he lay in the hospital thinking of the conferences that he would have to cancel, he began feeling sorry for himself, and the question started to rise from his soul, “Why me, God? Look at all these wonderful things that I am doing for you.” “Then,” said, Stanley, “it was almost as if he heard the echo of his own voice asking, ‘Why not you?’”
When you begin asking, “Why not me?” you cease to make God your adversary and learn that He is your friend. Strange as it may seem, scores of people never think much about God in relationship to life until trouble knocks at their door, and then suddenly they are quite certain that He is their enemy who has singled them out for trouble.
The great seventeenth century preacher and Archbishop of Canterbury, John Tillotson, once wrote, “Though all afflictions are evils in themselves, yet they are good for us, because they discover our disease and tend to our cure.” Do you believe that? For a moment ponder those words, “they discover our disease and tend to our cure.”
Can you see beyond your trouble to the good which may come of it which is part of the cure? Everybody who faces trouble is either better because of it, or becomes bitter because of it–one or the other. No wonder the prophet Nahum cried out, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).
As the book of Job says, “Man is born to trouble,” but it is not trouble which puts us under; it is our failure to learn from it. Think about it, and decide which side of the question, “Why?” you are on. It’s never too late to be asking, “Why not me?” and “Why so many blessings?