By John Blase
Over the years it has become the stuff of well-timed, late-night comedy and internet memes. The attack took place back in 1994. It shocked the watching world, and it left Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan injured and unable to compete for some time. The enduring footage of the attack shows a crumpled Kerrigan in a dark hallway, crying and repeating one question over and over: “Why?”
Although the attack, even years later, remains shadowed in some mystery, it appears to have been initially motivated by jealousy on the part of her rival, Tonya Harding. Nancy Kerrigan had done nothing wrong. The only thing she was guilty of was consistently outperforming her competitors.
Job was not an Olympian, but his circumstances were not altogether different from Kerrigan’s. In a very real sense, he’d outperformed his fellow men in terms of integrity before God. He chased hard after the good and kept his distance from evil. But after an attack, seemingly out of nowhere, on his family, property, and even his own body, Job was left crumpled on the ground repeating a variation on that same word: Why? He lamented, “Why was I not stillborn; why did I not die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11).
Searching for a reason for our suffering can be downright frustrating at best, and debilitatingly depressing at worst, because satisfactory answers are often hard to find. And the one place we think might hold keys to our questions—Scripture—asks us to suffer more by faith than by sight. In other words, we’re called to trust even when, and possibly most especially when, we don’t understand.
I have no doubt the apostle Paul (another overachiever of sorts) had moments when he asked, “Why?”—times when he tried to squint through the glass darkly. But he confessed it was all worth it in order to know Christ “and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10).
Why? is a completely valid, human question. But the more important question is “Who can I turn to for hope?”
Written by John Blase
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