• Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC

It's Okay to Ask Why


"Pardon me, my lord," Gideon replied, "but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Judges 6:13 (NIV)

The freest I have ever felt in my entire life is when I embraced that my voice matters and it is ok to speak honestly (in love) to those in my family, friend group, and work-life. There is something about living authentically and honestly that allows us as individuals to breathe and thus invites those around us to do the same. When we keep thoughts and feelings inside out of fear of what others might think or say, we unintentionally begin to suffocate. It is a painful, slow death to keep who we are bottled up inside. As I type these words, I know there are those who would agree and far more who might admit that they wish they could live with such freedom. But a word of warning, such freedom comes at a cost. To speak truthfully to those around us is not always welcomed or seen as a strength. It is difficult for those in our spheres of influence to see the heart behind our words and to trust that we would never say things simply to do harm. It is a tenuous place to live, and yet, I’ve found the messiness honesty may cause is always worth it. Always. I in no way enjoy the mess but have found a freedom there that Judges 6:13 invites me to embrace. When I see chaos around me, I know the same freedom I have to speak truthfully and honestly with those around me is welcomed by my Lord, which is what we see modeled in the life of Gideon. I love the story of Gideon. In Judges 6, we read about “the angel of the Lord” coming to him and addressing him as “mighty warrior” before telling him he will be the one to save Israel. Now think about this for a moment, a being that is CLEARLY an angel is standing before you. And not just an angel, but “the angel of the Lord” which is code word for a pre-incarnate Jesus. What would your first inclination be? Mine, at least I think, would not be to question what he is asking me to do. The simple fact that “the angel of the Lord” is even there is miraculous to begin with and I’d like to believe I would be on board for whatever he might ask. However, this is not how Gideon responds. To see “the angel of the Lord” did not seem to surprise him. Maybe he remembered stories about God that had been passed down to him by his family? Maybe he’d been told about “the angel of the Lord” appearing to different people in the past? Whatever the reason, instead of cowering in fear, Gideon spoke honestly from his heart and asked GREAT questions. “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (v 13) “Where are all the signs and wonders our ancestors told us about?” (v 13) “How can I save Israel?” (v 15) “Give me a sign that it is really you talking to me?” (v 17) “Do not be angry with me, let me make just one more request?” (v39) I love it! Gideon gets a bad wrap sometimes by those who think he should have trusted and acted in faith more quickly to do what “the angel of the Lord” had asked of him. To see only this side of things is to miss the multifaceted beauty of God’s word. It’s alive and it speaks to each of us in whatever circumstance we may find ourselves. Are there times when we need to move with the knowledge God has given us? Absolutely! I am in no way a proponent of dragging your feet once God has spoken. But sometimes, when life has been particularly overwhelming, stressful, and difficult, it’s hard to trust what we see. In those moments, you need to know that you have a God who understands your hesitation and welcomes our questions. I think of all the hardship that has happened in just the past few weeks. The U.S. has been hit hard with dangerous and in some cases deadly winter weather. Those I know and love who love Jesus and serve him faithfully are being impacted. The words of Gideon come, “If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happened to us?” I think of those I know who faithfully love and serve Jesus and yet have lost jobs, loved ones, and health due to COVID. Again, the words of Gideon come, “If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happened to us?” And I think of all those I know who are trying to live out a simple life of faith in God and yet are still overcome by things like anxiety, depression, and panic. Once more, the words of Gideon come, “If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happened to us?” It is notable, that in the story when Gideon asks these questions, he gets no answers. And yet, the simple act of making these requests gives him the strength he needs to take his next step. I don’t know where each of you reading this finds yourself today, but let me encourage you in this simple truth from the life of Gideon. When you find yourself lost, stressed, or overwhelmed by life, it’s ok to ask “Why?” from God. He may not give you the answer you seek, but even better, he will give you himself, and he is more than enough.

For Your Reflection… What tough questions do you need to talk to God about? Don’t keep them in any longer. He welcomes your questions and will meet you in the conversation.

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