Engaging the Why

As part of our Lent series which is following along with 24-7 Prayer’s Prayer Course II and Lectio 365, our team member Kathryn shares from her personal journey of wrestling with unanswered questions.

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” Corrie ten Boom

“Why?” I ask this question all the time.
“Why did that person not use their indicator? Why did the person with the largest trolley have to be in front of me when there is only one checkout open? Why did that person speak to me that way? Why did I speak to that person that way?” These are some things that run through my mind on a weekly if not daily basis.
And then there are those other why’s. The larger why’s. The why’s that are too painful to voice. The why’s that cause a lump to rise in your throat if you dwell on them even for a second. I ask a lot of these as well. “Why did it have to happen that way? Why am I where I am? Why is that insecurity back, again? Why is this all so hard?”

I love answers. I love clarity, knowing where I stand. It’s how I work. It’s how I make sense of life and it helps me feel safe. I will have that hard conversation every single time if it means I can understand a little bit more. I like answers – a lot.

But I don’t have answers for my why’s, and I won’t pretend to have answers for yours either.
I have sat in discomfort around one particular why question of mine for nearly two years and I am not any further forward. Some days I am actually more tired, less hopeful and just downright confused.

I recently listened to the God on Mute audiobook by Pete Greig. I sat and listened to Pete’s stories, bible teaching and wisdom while doing a puzzle and drinking tea. I didn’t finish the book with any more answers. However, I finished with more peace.
I had peace because I realised that I am normal (*sigh of relief *) and I am simply human (*another big sigh of relief *). Having questions doesn’t mean I’m a bad Christian who doesn’t have enough faith. Rather I am a human living in an infinitely complex world.

I also recently read Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and again breathed that sigh of relief when she said:
If you are uncomfortable – in deep pain, angry, yearning, confused – you don’t have a problem, you have a life. Being human is not hard because you are doing it wrong, it’s hard because you are doing it right. You will never change the fact that being human is hard, so you must change your idea that it was ever supposed to be easy.”
Maybe I’m odd, but I find peace in this.

And I find peace that in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was doing the exact same thing. Sitting in the pain of unknowing, being human. Jesus also shows me what to do with my questions – give them all to my Father. When I choose to stop and still, take my bruised heart and sit with my Father, He meets me with peace, grace and mercy – every single time.
Do I get my answers? Rarely. I don’t leave that place as Wonder Woman, knowing exactly what to do. Rather I leave as the human I am, still carrying my questions but also carrying a bit more hope.
As Alain Emerson says in Luminous Dark: “There is hope, but that hope will not invalidate your pain…”

God knows my questions and yours, and we journey holding the why’s together with Him.
Afresh I seek thee, lead me — once more I pray —
Even should it be against my will, thy way.
Let me not feel thee foreign any hour,
Or shrink from thee as an estranged power.
Through doubt, through faith, through
bliss, through stark dismay,
Through sunshine, wind, or snow, or fog, or shower,
Draw me to thee who art my only day.”
George MacDonald
(taken from chapter 9 of God on Mute by Pete Greig)

Kathryn moved to Dundee in August 2019 to be part of Prayer Space Dundee, a 24-7 Prayer House of Prayer community seeking to make prayer accessible and see people draw close to God. By day Kathryn works as a Careers Adviser in Angus which is a challenging but rewarding role. When she’s not working you’ll likely find her on a beach or tucked up on the couch with a good book and a cuppa tea – preferably with a dog nearby.

Crystal Cryer

Crystal Cryer originally hails from Oregon, but now claims Scotland as home. She is the National Coordinator for 24-7 Prayer Scotland. She is also part of the Prayer Spaces in Schools Scotland team as well as the Central Church family in Edinburgh, where she is based.