Charles Stanley - When We Don't Understand Why
When I find myself going through some difficult situation in life, I always think about this old gospel song. It goes, "Trials dark on every hand and I cannot understand all the ways that God would lead me through His blessed Promise Land. But He'll guide me with His eye, and I'll follow till I die, and I'll understand it better by and by. By and by when the morning comes, when the saints of God are all gathered Home, we'll tell the story of how we've overcome, and we'll understand it better by and by".
Well, when I think about that and I think about the trials and difficulties we face in life, we all have different kind of attitudes about it when that happens to us. People sometimes become very, very angry with God. And sometimes people begin to rejoice because they know that God is doing something very special in their life. Well, what I want to talk about in this message is this: What about when we don't understand why? What about when we don't understand why? And God's not going to always tell us why. And it's very evident, for example, that we don't figure it all out. And people respond in different ways. And oftentimes we want to know why.
Now God knows why, but sometimes He's not going to tell us why, because we wouldn't even understand that, because you see, His perspective is total. He understands past, present and future, and exactly why things are happening. We have a very limited view. And so sometimes our attitude toward God is not right; attitude toward our situation's not right. God understands every single facet of what is happening in our life. And while it's a mystery to us, there is no mystery to God. He knows exactly why He allows certain things to happen. He knows we will never be able to understand it. That doesn't keep Him from allowing them to happen.
God is a God of love, righteousness, mercy and goodness and kindness. So, whatever He allows in our life, we have to learn to respond the right way. And sometimes that's not easy and sometimes it is easy. But a couple of verses I want to give you, one in Isaiah chapter fifty-five. And you know this, no doubt, listen to what he says in verse eight. He says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts". Well, what does that mean? He says now, "Nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts". So, what that assures me is this: That some things I will never understand. Because He says, "His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts," which means they're beyond our comprehension and some things we'll never be able to figure out in this life.
And I think about my mom, for example, when she was about my age, I think, I remember her telling me this. She'd say about my father, who died when I was nine months of age, so here's what she would say. She said, "You know, I just never can figure out why God took Charlie". I was only nine months of age. All those years had gone by, she never figured it out. And even when I tried to very rationally and lovingly say, "Well Mom," well it didn't make any difference what I said. And I began to realize that what God said, "My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts". You're not going to understand it and nobody else can explain it.
So, I finally just gave up and said, "Okay, Lord, I'll just let You handle that". But there's another verse in Lamentations, chapter three, listen, "The Lord's loving-kindnesses indeed never cease". Look at that. His, "loving-kindnesses never cease". Which means when I'm going through difficulty, hardship, or pain, they're still there. They never cease. And He says, "For His compassions never fail. For they are new every morning". Look at that, "They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness". That is, God's goodness and love and mercy doesn't wear out at the end of the first day. That is, it's brand new every morning.
So, think about it. When you wake up every morning, the scripture says that God's lovingkindness is with you all the day. It never ceases. "For His compassions never fail". So, whether you and I understand or not is not the issue. The issue is am I willing to see things God's way, or am I just going to insist on having my way about it? So, I want you to turn, if you will to First Peter, and Peter is writing to Christians who are undergoing difficulty and hardship and pain. And he comes to this sixth verse, of the fifth chapter, "Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour". But listen to what he says. He says, "But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world".
And then watch this tenth verse. And I'll tell you why I want you to see this in a moment. "After you have suffered for a little while," notice he says, "a little while". Well somebody says, "Yeah, but this has been going on for eight years, ten years or twenty years in my life". He says, "A little while". Time is not the same with Almighty God. "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you". So, when we think about how God works and how He operates and so forth, I think about oftentimes our first question is, "God, why would You let this happen"? That's not the most important question.
And so, what I want us to look at this morning is this simple question. When we don't understand why, then what? A lot of times we won't understand why, probably most of the times. If somebody asks me, "Well why do you think that happened to you"? I'll tell you about that in a moment. But most of the time, we can't figure that out. And God doesn't require that we figure out why. But He does want us to understand when it happens and we don't understand why, that we respond in the right way. Because the way I respond will make what I suffer valuable or invaluable. If I don't, respond correctly, then I'm going to lose an awesome opportunity of blessing. If I respond in the right fashion, I can ask Him what He's up to, but my faith, my trust, my surrender, my yieldedness must absolutely overpower all these questions I may have.
And think about this: God is under no obligation to tell us why. He doesn't promise to tell us why. Because He says, "My thoughts are above your thoughts". So, you can just mark it down. There are some things He's not going to tell us why about. Many things He will, but some things He won't. It's not His responsibility to tell me why He allows things to happen in our life. But it is my response that will give me the privilege of either growing through the situation. Or, if you'll think about it, why waste your pain? Why waste your sorrows? Why waste your hurt? If I don't grow through my hurt and my pain, my sorrow, and my disappointment, if I don't grow through it, it's sort of wasted. Why waste the time of hurting, and pain, and suffering, and whether it's financial, or physical, or emotional, why waste all that time and not get anything from it, when you can profit from every single heartache, burden, and trial.
Now, some time ago, I was walking through my house like I normally do and, I tripped and fell. I don't know why I tripped one foot against the other. So, here I'm lying in the floor. And what happens is, when you stumble like that, there is a brief absolute absence of consciousness. Fast, but all of a sudden you know something's happened and you're conscious of what has happened. And I'm lying there and I can tell you exactly what I thought. Ha, ha, ha. It's funny today, but it wasn't funny then. And that is, I asked, "God, what are You up to at this point"? That was my first response, "What are You up to"? Well, He was up to me soon getting in an ambulance. And I can tell you how many times I've been blessed during this painful time.
The two ladies who came to get me in the ambulance, "Dr. Stanley, what are you doing in here"? "I don't know"! Ha, ha, ha, ha! And they were so sweet and kind and talked to me all the way to the hospital. And I will say this: Everywhere I went with no exception, somebody had been blessed through In Touch, and now they had an opportunity from their perspective of blessing me, and they certainly did. And so, I broke a couple of places in my pelvis and did something to my shoulder and also to my knee and all of that, but I did not have to have an operation. God let me fall, but He could have let me hit my head and so forth, and so I had some things to be thankful for, though I was hurting and "I thank You, God".
But my first question was, "God, what are You up to"? Because here's my personal conviction. Lot of folks would not agree. My personal conviction is if you're walking in the Spirit of God, there are no accidents. God is in control of your life. He knows what He's up to. He doesn't promise to give you any answers. But He promises to be with you. I could have fallen about five inches further and I would have hit my head on the chair, which was like a church pew, that I used to sit in downtown in the old church. I missed that about five or six inches. Arm went out, protected my head, so I had some things to be grateful for. But the first response was, "God, what are You up to"?
And I think that ought to be the response of everybody when something happens, "What are You up to"? Not, "What have I done? What's this"? but God, "What are You up to"? And so, then I, after I sort of got up, I started praising Him and thanking Him and thanking Him for what I seen could have happened. I could have fallen down the steps, or I could have fallen against that pew. I could have done a lot of things, but God let me fall gently enough that I did not break anything. And when you fall flat against a hard floor, and you don't break anything, God's hand has to be under you, no matter what.
So, I began thanking Him and, and praising Him for it. And I knew that God had a purpose. Because God, I don't think God allows us to go through difficulty and hardship. In other words, He's not up there saying, "You get this, you get that". In other words, He's in the process of doing something good in our life. And you know, one of the good things in my behalf is this. I've studied the Word of God long enough to know what to expect in certain situations and circumstances and that is, I knew that God had something in mind, though I didn't like what was happening, though I knew I was going to miss a few very pleasant things. And I didn't know I was going to miss it all, but I knew that God had stopped me for a reason. Now remember this: When God stops you, He stops us for some specific reason. And so, I began to ask Him, "Lord, what are You saying to me"? For I knew that He stopped me, because I had all these plans and they're all good plans. He stopped me dead in my tracks. I won't tell you everything He told me. The most important thing He said to me was five weeks later. But pretty soon He stopped me, He said, "You need to slow down. You need to slow down".
Well, I didn't think I was moving very fast that morning, but that wasn't the issue. The issue, I've been moving fast all of my life, and I did understand that. But it took five weeks later, before He said, "This is the reason I stopped you". None of my time was wasted, because I had an opportunity to witness to many people who, because I had to have round the clock help. And I'd talk to them half the night about the Lord if I had an opportunity. And even amidst the pain, there were many good things that God had going on. And so, I can say, "Thank You, Lord. Thank You, thank You, thank You". The moment I fell, I knew God was up to something. From a human point of view, anybody could say, "Yes, you just tripped and fell". Well that's true from a human point of view, but thank God I didn't let it stop there, but asked Him, "Lord, what are You up to"? You know what? God was still being good, no matter what. And the big question is as we began, not, "God, why did You let this happen"? But, "How am I to respond to all this"?
So, I'm going to give you two or three verses of scripture in a moment and I want you to be sure to jot them down. Immediately remember when something happens, the first thought ought to be that you're a child of God and He's watching over you. It doesn't make any difference what happens. That, listen, that doesn't come and go. You may feel God's presence or you may not feel God's presence, but if you're a child of God, He knows what's happening and He knows exactly where you are in His plan and purpose for your life. The second thing, how we should respond, is this: immediately. We should recall what God says, "I am with you always". So, I know He's with me. I know He's present. I know He's there. I'm in His presence. You're in His presence. No matter what's happening, you're in the presence of God.
So, He knows what's happening. And you we need to recall that and remember that. In other words, our first thoughts ought not to be this and that and some other things, but it ought, it ought to be all about God. "Thank You, Father, I'm in Your presence. Thank You. You know what You're doing and You know why You're letting this happen". And remember, He said, "I'll never leave you nor forsake you". "Thank You, Father. You said You'd never leave me nor forsake me, so what I'm going through, I know I'm going through this in Your presence, in Your sight, in Your permissive will". And you should never forget that. Whatever's happening is in His sight, in His presence and in His permissive will. He is allowing it to happen no matter what. And then of course, acknowledge the fact that whatever the reason is, He's doing it with some divine purpose. That is, He has a purpose. This isn't some accident. He has a purpose. I know He's with me. I know He knows my heart. He said, "He'd never leave me nor forsake me, so therefore, God, there must be a purpose for this. And I'm going to trust You whatever it is". And then, thank Him.
You say, "Can you really and truly thank Him for these things"? Yes, you can. Because what happens is He'll show you something you can be thankful for. I can be thankful I didn't fall down the steps. I can be thankful that I didn't trip and fall and hurt somebody else. I didn't, I can be thankful that I wasn't unconscious. I could have been, I could have fallen unconscious, and lying there till somebody found me. Watch this, First Thessalonians chapter five, verse eighteen. "Giving," listen he says, "Giving thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you". Because there will be something, and I just mentioned two or three things I could be thankful for. Whatever's going on in your life, you can be thankful.
And so, this is why I say to you, week after week, you should start the day off with the Word of God. It's like ammunition, because Satan may shoot at you in some way or the other. Or you'll come to some trial or some heartache. But if the Word of God is in your mind, on your lips, in your heart, in your spirit, immediately God is going to bring it to your mind. "Give," He says, "Giving thanks always for everything in Christ Jesus". A second verse that I thought about came to my mind, I thought, "Well Lord," and I'm always thinking, "Here's what I'll preach to others". What does He say in Romans eight twenty-eight? "God causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose".
So, listen. When you've got the Word of God in your heart, here's what's going to happen. The Holy Spirit is going to bring to your mind what you need to be reminded of at that moment. And so, those verses came to my mind. I'm to give thanks in everything. God, You know what I'm feeling. I'm giving, I'm going to thank You anyway. You said You always have a purpose. You're going to work it for my good. I don't know what that is. I'm going to thank You, God, no matter what. And then I come back to our original scripture here in verse ten of First Peter chapter five, "After you have suffered for a little while".
You say, "Well how long is a little while"? I don't know the answer to that. "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace," listen, "the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ," we're talking about Christians now, watch this, "will Himself," not somebody else, "will Himself," do four things in your life, "perfect you, confirm you, strengthen you and establish you". And so, what's He really saying about all this? He's really saying this. He says, "Something good is going to happen". God's going to work something good in your life. And what he does, he uses four different words to say this is what God is going to do. He's going to perfect, He's going to complete something He had in mind for you. He's going to establish you. He's going to strengthen you.
That is, watch this. Any trial that comes in our life, you and I should not end up like it strengthen, establish you, perfect you, work complete you. These are the things that God is doing in your life. And so, when I think about that, then I think about, "Yes, I can thank Him for it". Because what He's doing is revealing His will and purpose and plan. And somebody asked me, several people have asked me, "You wouldn't do that again, would you"? If I could get the same results, yes! If I could get the same results, yes! Do I like it? No. And I think my worst night was in a hospital looking at a wall which was very close, and it was about two o'clock in the morning, and the devil was there, naturally, saying, "Look at you now. Look at you now. You may never walk again. Who cares now"?
And then I realize, "Satan, forget it, because that's not who I'm following". And God just began to give me these verses of scripture, verses that are so simple, giving thanks in everything. Listen, after about four or five verses, you know what? The wall wasn't all that close and the room wasn't all that dark, because God was there. That's the reason. So, all of this depends upon your relationship to God. If you've never trusted Him as your Savior, think about this. You've got to go through trials and heartaches and burdens by yourself. Your friends can help you to some degree, but not fully. They can't do anything these three or four verses can do for you. "Giving thanks always for all things". "God causes all things to work together for good".
I knew He'd cause something good to come out of this. Did that stop the pain? No, but it made me assured of this. There's a limitation to it. And God sets a limitation to every trial, every heartache, every burden. We just have to respond the right way. And so, I would say to you this morning, if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, you're going to go through some difficulty, hardship, and pain. And that's the world you and I live in. Think about it, what kind of world we live in. And not only that, you say, "Well, I don't think that, that'll necessarily happen to me".
If you've not saved, let's hope it does so it'll drive you to Jesus. Because whatever it takes to get you to God is good, no matter what that might be. Or if you are a believer this morning and you've been going through difficulty and hardship and pain and arguing with God about it and giving Him a lot of questions, maybe you ought to just take these notes and go over them yourself and work on two or three of these verses. Now watch this, the Word of God, the Word of God is like a shield to us, that no matter how fiery, fiery and hot the trial may be, the Word of God is like a shield. "I will never leave you nor forsake you". "I'm going to cause this to turn out for something good". "I'm building strength in your life. I'm building confidence in your life. And I am build, I'm establishing you in your faith". God always has something good if we trust Him.
Well, if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, none of this will work. You can't claim God's presence, you can't claim His power, you can't claim any of that. So, it's important first of all, you know that one of these days, you're going to die and you're going to meet almighty God. You need to get ready. He says it's appointed to man once to die and after this, the judgment. That's the Word of the living God.
You need to get ready. And you get ready by trusting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, trusting what He did at the Cross, atone for your sin, forgave you of your sins, wrote your name in the Lamb's Book of Life, and made you ready. If He called your name today, would you be ready to meet the God who created you and to whom you're going to give an account for your life? You can, by asking Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, based on His death at the Cross, surrendering your life to Him, and let Him begin to be your guide, your help, your Lord, your master all the days of your life. And that's my prayer for you.
Father, we thank You and praise You that You have given us Your Word to keep close to our heart, in our mind, and to apply in every single circumstance of life so that we're not asking just why, but going beyond that and thanking You, and praising You, that You know better than we know and that what You allow in our life, You intend to turn for good every single time. Give us listening hearts, submissive will, yielded spirits so that all that You want to accomplish, we will allow it to happen. For we ask this in Jesus' name and for His sake. Amen.