There’s a phrase I hear a lot around my house. And by a lot I mean, “if I had a nickel for every time I heard it, I’d be a millionaire.” My three kids have a variety of responsibilities around the house: homework, setting the table, putting away toys, folding laundry, etc. Without fail, I have one dawdling and hemming and hawing, trying to delay the inevitable. When I prompt them with a reminder, “Buddy, it’s time to fold the laundry.” The common refrain is, “But so-and-so isn’t doing it!” Every. Day. Most of the time is exasperates me, but occasionally it hits me as quite profound. Is it any different than the question Peter asked Jesus in John 21:21, “Lord, what about this man?” Is it really any different than what we do all day long in our prayers?
God, why was she able to get pregnant so quickly and I remain infertile? Why is that marriage blessed even when it sprung from an unhealthy start, while mine failed despite the best intentions? Why do I have to have such strong convictions while someone else seems to feel no guilt? Why do I have so many illnesses while someone else seems to always be healthy and strong? Why are my efforts to grow a business never successful and others seem to have the Midas touch? Why are some people called to extraordinary sacrifice in their Christian walk while others seem physically blessed beyond measure? Why was I born into wealth and privilege and others starve to death? Why can’t I eat whatever I want and not gain weight like so-and-so? Why are people born with disabilities and with struggles that will make their life so much harder than mine? Why are some asked to remain single and held to celibacy while others enjoy the gift of marriage?
Why her? Why him? Why me? Why not me? Why, God?
The answer? Eyes on Jesus. Stop looking at everybody and everything else and look to Jesus. And as you look to Jesus focus on what he has specifically for you. What is Jesus asking you to do? It’s the same answer given to Peter in John 21:22 “As for you, follow me.” And in some ways, it’s the same answer I give my children. “Buddy, what did I ask you to do?” In that moment things seem unfair to him, for whatever reason. But I’m asking him to trust me. Trust that I have his best interest in mind. That I will make sure everyone gets what they deserve — that if the other child really is slacking, that they won’t get the same reward as the one doing their job faithfully. My kid’s vary in age from 3 to 8, which means the oldest often feels more weight of responsibility than the others. It often feels unfair to him, no doubt. But what I’m asking him to do in that moment is to believe I have his good in mind. Stop looking at the facts as they appear from his perspective and trust ME.
Now, I’m an imperfect mother. Even as I’m asking my son to trust me, I know that I’m going to fail him. But thankfully that is not the case with our perfect God. Not only is he trustworthy because of his character, revealed in Scripture: wise, loving, gracious, forgiving, unchanging, powerful, etc. We also know he is trustworthy because of his consistent track record of faithfulness towards people. Psalm after psalm recount the deeds of God, done on behalf of faithless people. How he rights all wrongs and rewards those who seek him all their days. So when he says, “trust me, look to me, follow me,” I have every confidence that he knows better than I do. That asking “why her” and “why me” is only going to generate discontent and distrust in my Lord.
As I attempt to parent these small children, I recognize all the ways that they cannot see the big picture. They see their small slice of the pie and it feels unfair. It reminds me that I don’t always know the whole story in my life either. The piece I can see appears unjust when I am not focusing on the perfect justice of my God. I don’t know why some people will have harder lives than others, but I do know that my all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful God does. I choose to trust him and keep my eyes on Jesus when life doesn’t make sense.