I am not an authority on suffering. The woman whose picture you see is.Joni Eareckson Tada has been sitting in a wheelchair for 43 years. She suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident when she was 17 which left her severely paralyzed. For the last ten years she has battled chronic pain. Recently she discovered she has breast cancer.
In an interview for Christianity Today, Joni shared some of her thoughts on suffering with Sarah Pulliam Bailey. The title of the article was telling: "Something Greater Than Healing." Take time to read Sarah's interview. It is excellent.
When asked, "How has your perspective on suffering and healing changed since your breast cancer diagnosis?" Joni replied:
"Even though it seems a lot is being piled on, I keep thinking about 1 Peter 2:21: `To these hardships you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.' Those steps most often lead Christians not to miraculous, divine interventions but directly into the fellowship of suffering. In a way, I've been drawn closer to the Savior, even with this breast cancer."
When faced with suffering it is only natural to cry out to God: "Why, God?" "Why me?" "Why now?" "Why this?" That's okay! Giants of the faith have been voicing their frustrations to God for centuries. We can too. However, what Joni hints at and what the Psalms remind me is that the answer to "Why?" is "WHO." Notice Joni's words, "In a way, I've been drawn closer to the Savior."
In Psalm 121, the psalmist writes,"I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2 ESV).Then in Psalm 80, Asaph cries out, "Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved" (Psalm 80:19 ESV). Like Joni, both psalmists were declaring their need for God. Sure, answers are nice, but God is necessary. This is the teaching of the word of God. Reread the familiar and much loved Psalm 23. Notice how emphatic David is about WHO must come to his aid.
It is great to get an answer to life's enigmas. But there is something better -- it is getting God. It is receiving a fresh sense of his peace, his power, and his presence.
The answer to "Why?" is "WHO."