May 13, 2012
Last week my little corner of the country, mid-Michigan, made the news. Actually, after living here for five years, I still cannot describe the geography well. Some news-readers and weathermen describe the area as “central mid-Michigan,” or “northern southeast Michigan,” or “west of the ‘thumb’,” and “south of the Upper Peninsula.”
But it wasn’t difficult for a freakish thunderstorm to find it last week. Almost 10 inches of rain fell in a five-hour period. Power was out for 15 hours. Experts called it a “Once in 500 years storm.” It was five solid hours of lightning and thunder, very strange, like in a cheap horror movie. I suffered a basement flood, damaging some of my archives and collection of thousands of books and hundreds of boxes just down there. This despite a rather comical – I can say now – routine of trying to keep the rising water from a dead sump pump, by candlelight, one pot at a time. The Little Dutch Boy I am not. Eventually I lost the race with the rising water and leaking walls.
What could be worse?
Well… my neighbors who lost everything. Nearby basement apartments where water on the ground burst through their windows. A friend whose bedroom had water up to his chin. Dozens of cars in town completely covered by water. A tractor-trailer on the interstate (this is what made national news) that was stuck in a flooded underpass, and the driver had to be rescued after climbing atop the truck’s roof.
They all had it worse. No matter how bad things get for any of us, we can always find someone who is worse off. Sometimes that truth is a reality-check about our own conditions. We should not always be Whine connoisseurs. Sometimes this truth inspires sympathy toward others, a good thing. It is a reaction common to the human condition that we wonder whether our suffering (or pain or disappointment or betrayal or sickness) is unique to us. My family started a hospital ministry after my wife’s heart transplant, and we frequently were asked the question by patients and members of their families, and survivors after a death: “Why me?”
I eventually came to a revelation that the question, as natural as it is, is partially misdirected. We walk through this vale of tears; disease and sickness exist around us; there is sin in this world, and humanity suffers the consequences; and “the rain falls on the just and unjust.” Sometimes, a lot of it.
“Why me?” I suggest the real question should rather ask, “Why me – why does God love me so?” or “How do I deserve His favor?” or “While I was yet a sinner… and despite my continual rebellion… God sent His Son to die for… ME?” — Why me?
This is the real meaning of the real question we should cry out every day. It brings a very humbling perspective. While there are possible reasons for “Why did my house get flooded?” or plausible factors behind “Why does someone’s heart fail?” – there is NO answer to “Why me, Lord? How do I deserve You?” … except the answer of His loving Grace.
Let THAT answer flood over us all.
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A musical treatment of this perspective is expressed in the classic gospel song written by Rusty Goodman, “Who Am I?”
Click: Why Me?