—by Marshéle Carter
I struggled with a subconscious gag order for decades. I feared that by asking God to explain the seeming injustices and unexpected losses in my life, I would somehow be demonstrating a disappointing lack of faith and, therefore, be displeasing to God.
In the books of Luke, John, and Acts, I recently found nine questions that Heaven asked after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. I gathered them up like one who finds $100 bills strewn along her path. I was surprised (and happy!) that six of the nine questions ask why! Angels asked three whys; Jesus asked three.
1. Why do you look for the living among the dead? (Angels, Luke 24:5)
The angels seemed confused that the women were surprised by Jesus’ absence. They seem to be asking, do you still not get it? Perhaps today they still scratch their heads under their halos and wonder why we look for life in all the wrong places. They must look at one another, shrug their winged shoulders and say, “He’s not here (in anything that promises relief, recreation, or relaxation apart from Christ); he has risen!”
2. Why are you crying? (Angels, John 20:13)
The angels asked Mary Magdalene why she was crying. Based on what she saw, she reasoned that someone had robbed or relocated Jesus’ body. We do the same thing today. We look around at the visible circumstances and reason that we’ve been robbed of what matters most to us or that someone is being cruel and playing games with our heart. Angels must look again at the empty tomb, then up at the Lord Jesus Christ seated in authority at the right hand of God, and ask us, “Why are you crying? God is on His throne and He is faithful. There’s so much taking place in your favor that you can’t see right now. He will complete what He started in you.”
3. Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? (Jesus, John 20:15)
Jesus, raised from the dead and in full view, was standing right beside Mary Magdalene. She did not recognize Him until He spoke her name, “Mary.” Immediately, she recognized His voice and turned to Him in faith. Jesus stands beside us, too. He sees our tears and asks us, “Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” He is with us, at our right hand and even living in us by His Spirit. He has not left us alone.
4. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your minds? (Jesus, Luke 24:38)
The disciples were in lock-down, frightened and hiding after Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. When Jesus appeared and greeted them, they thought they saw a ghost. Despite the deadbolts and the dresser pushed up against the door, the One they needed most showed up, just as He had promised them! But, their first reaction wasn’t joy! They, like Mary Magdalene, did not recognize Him. They were startled and frightened by what they saw. Are we afraid and hiding?
5. Why do you stand here looking into the sky? (Angels, Acts 1:10)
Jesus had clearly told his followers to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to clothe them with power and, then, to go, make disciples of all nations, baptize and teach them. There was much to be done! But, they stood there gazing into the clouds. Perhaps their hearts were grieving after watching the Lord leave. Perhaps they leaned toward the sky, hoping for just one more glimpse or word from Jesus. There was only silence and a cloudy sky. Jesus’ work was finished. Their work had just begun.
6. Why do you persecute me? (Jesus, Acts 9:4)
Jesus showed up in the life of one of His greatest opponents. Jesus asked him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. Saul had done everything he could to silence the message about Christ’s resurrection. Jesus asks the same of those today who oppose Him and His message. Do we, with our words or actions, hinder or hurt—verbally or physically—those who believe and obey Christ’s message?
A Half Dozen Reasons to Ask Why
Finally, from the cross, Jesus asked the Father why. Therefore, there must be nothing sinful or wrong about asking God why, because we know that Jesus never sinned. I am humbled and encouraged by Heaven’s whys. I am at the same time corrected and comforted. I’m learning it’s okay to cry out to God and ask Him for help in understanding what happened and why it happened. God will not despise a heart that is broken, nor will He wave off His child who sincerely and humbly asks why.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12