On March 25th, 2020, the Governor of my state, Idaho, closed all businesses in the state except Essential Services due to Covid-19. After 2 counties reported community spread, he issued this order as a way to stop the spread of this terrible virus. The first thing most people ask is ‘why?’ Yet, in times like these, there may be no satisfactory answer to that question; there is no one to blame; there is no easy solution. Asking the right questions, taking 8 faith-building steps and building faith not fear will help us get through these difficult times.
What are the right questions When Difficult Times Come?
When hardship strikes “why” is a useless pursuit. Sometimes, there are no answers to why. There is no one to blame. The situation simply is what it is. Yet, we still want answers and that is perfectly normal. We want to make sense of our world and put it back in order. But, sometimes, the only way you can do that is to accept the situation as it is and figure out how to move forward by asking questions that build your faith and peace.
When tornadoes strike, a car accident takes a loved one, cancer takes its toll, or a child is lost to disease, we seek the answer to the question – Why? Perhaps the accident can be blamed on someone but there are still the lingering questions of why was your loved one in the wrong place at the worst possible moment. Obsessing over this unanswerable question only causes stress, depression, and greater fear.
Why Did God Allow This to Happen?
Here’s the biggest why – Why did God allow this to happen? The answer to that isn’t one we want to hear. God gave us free will. It was the greatest gift. In order to be made in His image, we had to have the ability to make our own choices. God wants to be loved freely, not because He has forced us to do so. Because of that, we can choose to do things that hurt others and we are subject to circumstances of life – tornadoes, cancer, car accidents, etc. He does not cause them. We ask that question because we are searching for someone or something to blame.
It’s a hard answer to hear, yet, we want to have free will. We don’t want to be controlled and live as slaves. Much of the human race only call on God in times of disaster. They regard as a genie who will pop out of the teapot when we want Him to, do what we tell Him to, and then go back inside and leave us alone till we need Him the next time. That’s not how it works.
0THER TYPES OF QUESTIONING
Why is a wonderful question when we are seeking a way to solve a problem. However, when it is being asked in order to assign blame, frustration results. In the case of Covid-19, we can ask why later. Instead, we need to put it aside and take up three other questions – questions that build our faith and strengthen us and others. Who? What? and How?
- Who can I help? Who has the greatest need? Who will be fine?
- What can I do? What can I say? What can I pray for?
- How do I go about giving to others? I know who they are and what they need. Now, how do I go about the business of being part of the answer?
Simply looking around and asking why accomplishes nothing. There is no answer. How do you change the current needs by blaming others for past actions or because the needs exist? Instead, you leave why for another time after the crisis has passed.
If a tornado struck my home and destroyed everything, I would not be helped by someone asking me why I lived there, or why I didn’t bury all my photos in a box in the back yard, or why I didn’t build a concrete bunker instead of a stick-built house that blew away. Why is not what I want or need to hear.
Asking Hard Questions
A few years ago, my first husband was killed instantly in a motorcycle/vehicle accident and he was at fault. He was a very good and safe motorcycle rider. No one knows why he lost control and ended up in the oncoming lane. There was no answer to the question – Why? In a moment of time, he was gone and so was our life together. In an unexplainable millisecond, I became a widow and ‘we’ became ‘me.’ It was horrible and there were no answers – none.
I knew better than to allow myself to fall into the trap of trying to figure it out. What if we had stayed home? What if we had gone another way? Why? There were no answers and nothing was going to change the reality of his death and it’s consequences for me. I did not let allow myself to linger on ‘why’ or ‘what if.’ It was pointless and it only made me feel worse.
Instead, I had to focus on surviving and starting a new life – one I didn’t want but, there I was doing it anyway. I had to make a choice. I had to focus on the hard questions like – what do I need to do today? What can I do today? How do I rebuild my life? Who am I now?
And I put a huge focus on gratitude for what I had instead of what I had lost. I forced myself to give thanks for my car, house, friends, family, etc. It was terribly difficult but I did it over and over each day, every day for months and months and I still practice it today.
The Power of Asking Questions
The current worldwide crisis is the same. There are a few people who need to be in charge of ‘why.’ Those are the ones who can actually do something productive with that question. There is power in their questions because they are in a position to create a solution.
Why are we short on supplies? I am not the person in charge of the answer to that question and so, for me to enter into that question is a waste of time and energy. Because I am not part of the solution, all I can do is try to find someone to blame and, again, this does not solve anything. I can do my part by not hoarding.
Instead, I can look around and ask – Who? Well, I live in the country and have a neighbor who is a widow, doesn’t drive, and she needs to go to the grocery store. So, my husband (I have remarried) and I can take her to the store. That answers who, what, and how! It’s simple and satisfying. We have other friends and neighbors we check in with as well and they do the same for us.
This is the power of asking the right questions and asking hard questions of yourself and others.
Putting a Limit on Questions
If you are able to provide solutions to ‘why,’ then ask away. If you aren’t then ask something else. Media is asking why continually and we hear their endless questioning over and over and over. We become frustrated because it seems there is no answer, we are powerless to assist, and the questions go on and on. At some point, we need to turn them off.
Yes, we need to be informed. However, after hearing about the plight of a city or nation for two weeks, being helpless to change anything, and hearing hours of the media ask ‘why’ and assign blame, I simply have to shut it off and pray since that’s the most powerful thing I can do.
I need to give my attention to the areas of life where I can make a difference no matter how small. I need to continue to ask – Who? What? How? If I ask who, but realize I don’t know what or how then I need to either find out or move to another ‘what’ or ‘who.’ I have friends who are out of work. I know who needs help but I can’t give them a job. I can give them my love, encouragement, and prayer.
‘Why’ is often accompanied by ‘what if’ and ‘maybe.’ Those are the companions of fear. We start thinking of the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘maybe’s’ and then ‘why’ rears its head. Unless we take those thoughts captive, renew our minds and thoughts, and do what it says in Philippians 4:6-8 TPT:
“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.
So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.”
Paul wrote this from prison so this wasn’t some pie-in-the-sky escapism. He knew the realities of hard times and He knew how to live what he was saying. He never asked why!
Focusing on those things does not mean you are ignoring the reality around you. What it does mean is that you are banishing fear and standing in faith. Yes, our situation right now is terrible. People are losing their jobs, some businesses will never recover, people are sick and dying. However, we also have to look at what we can and cannot do and then focus on what we can do. We focus on the neighbor we can help today – not the – what if we can’t help her next week? Maybe she will die. What if……..? It’s terrible and we need to pray all the time in every way we know how.
Hopefully we will learn from this so that it does not happen again. Good people will do all they can to help those who are most terribly affected by this. It is happening right now – people are helping each other.
If you look for the truth, nobility, rightness, purity, loveliness, admirable qualities, excellence and praiseworthiness of what is happening around you, you will see new and creative ways to make the world better instead of focusing on what’s wrong, bad, and getting worse. Yes, bad things are happening but you need to pray, put it in God’s hands, and then help whoever you can.
Different Ways to Ask a Question
There is an art in knowing what to ask and when to ask it or stay silent. Asking ‘why’ is not a sin. However, you need to examine what your goal is – are you trying to solve something or are you looking for someone or something to blame? Sometimes, you don’t ask ‘who.’ You ask what, where, or when.
There is also an art in how you ask a question. You can ask in an accusing way or an uplifting way.
“And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them.” Ephesians 4:29 TPT
You can ask a question that encourages and is filled with grace. You can ask the same question in a way that is hateful and harmful.
8 Steps to Ask the Right Questions in Difficult Times
So, as we move through this time of life, one we never dreamed we would go through, we need to follow these 8 steps to ask the right questions in difficult times and build faith not fear:
First – ask the right questions: the ones that bring solutions
Remember – you want to be part of solutions instead of creating unanswerable questions. Who? What? How? Those are solution building questions.
Second – Refuse to focus on the negative and blaming
You do this through giving thanks and leaving the outcomes in God’s hands. Negatives and blaming do not improve the current circumstances, help you, or help anyone else.
Third – Stop saying ‘What if’ and ‘maybe’
These are the words of fear. They captivate your mind and take you downward, destroying faith. Take those thoughts captive to Christ and focus on Philippians 4:6-8.
Fourth – Ask God – Who? What? When? Where? and How?
These are the action questions. Who can I help? What can I do? When do I need to do it? Where do I need to go? How do I provide a solution for someone else? Pray and listen – He will answer.
Fifth – Take action on Step Four
Don’t just sit around thinking about who, what, and how. Get up and do something. Pray, text, email, call, send a card, drive by and wave at them (if you are under quarantine), buy some groceries and drop them off, encourage someone, smile, take a friend to the store, and, most important of all – PRAY Actively.
Sixth – Focus on the Word
Get in the Word and do more than just read. Think about what you’re reading, write it out, look at it in multiple translations, write down how to apply it in your life right now. Speak it out loud to yourself. Memorize a verse or write it on a sticky note and put it where you’ll see it all the time. Be in the Word.
Seventh – PRAY – all the Time about everything You can
When we can’t physically do something for others, we feel helpless. There is huge power in prayer. Connect with God and pour everything out to Him. Do it over and over – He doesn’t mind! In fact, He loves that you are coming to Him in faith and expectation.
Eighth – Build Faith Not Fear
Build yourself up in your holy faith by praying in the Spirit. Build others up by praying for them and letting them know you care. Speak words of grace and faith to them – healing words. Calm their fears as you do your own, encouraging and lifting them up. Your own faith will be built at the same time.
Remember that you Live in the Kingdom of God
I pray this helps you to come through this time in history with hope, faith, love and all the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Remember – the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit and you are Kingdom dweller with Jesus!
**WM uses verses from different Bible translations. To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit the Scripture Citations.
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