Posted by: mikenicholsblog | May 8, 2011

“why” moments

There are many things in life that I will never understand. So often events happen and I am prone to wonder “why?”. You probably have the same struggle when life takes a turn that your logic can’t embrace. God chooses to heal one person, but another dies at a young age. A family of strong faith has to carry heavy burdens that others of weaker faith don’t experience. Someone prayerfully seeks God on a decision, and the results turn out to be very difficult.  I could continue, but you get the point. Confidence in the sovereignty and love of God are important to me (and you, I am sure), but my mind is still sometimes prone to wonder. Only eternity will give us full perspective on the difficult questions that we all wrestle with.

My thoughts were turned to this topic after reading a passage of Scripture very familiar to me. However, in reading Acts chapter twelve last week, I gained fresh insight. You have probably heard of Peter’s miraculous release from prison when the church prayed for him. After his release, he went to a home where people were praying, and they didn’t believe Peter was at the door (this story reminds us of how often we pray and can’t believe it when God comes through). But what happened before Peter went to prison captured my attention, and created a “why” moment.

James, the brother of John and one of the inner-circle of Christ, is beheaded. He was the first apostle to die and his brother John was the last. But why was James martyred and Peter delivered?

Acts 12:1-3(a), 5
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.  So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

Prayer was lifted heavenward for Peter, but not mentioned for James. Both are apostles and men who stood for truth. Peter’s supernatural deliverance gives us great confirmation that prayer works. But God could have chosen to protect and release James (even if no one prayed for him), and He did not. Was God unfair to James? Certainly not! And when events happen to us that our logic cannot embrace, God is not being unfair.

How then can we live with joy when the inevitable “why” questions overwhelm us? It is my firm opinion that even though Satan attacked the church, and James and Peter were persecuted, their lives were led by His unique purpose. In that purpose, James was martyred (and went home to be with the Lord), and God used prayer for Peter’s release.

Throughout life we can expect some “why” questions to attack all of us.  James and Peter helped refocus my attention on this truth. I believe God was glorified through James’ death, and also by the deliverance of Peter and the remainder of his earthly life. In God’s sovereignty, He makes choices that may not seem logical to us, but are always right.

One of our biggest struggles is that we look at life in the present, while God’s view is eternal. We’ll never answer all the “why” questions, nor should we try. But we can trust God for each moment, and live with a deep confidence that He answers prayer. Just ask Peter!

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