What vs Why

Years ago, a friend of mine captured what to me resonated as the best way to respond to a challenge.

You’re in a spot where circumstances have you looking at God and wondering…


And it’s often in the context of asking, “Why?” that you rush to relieve the pain and put in place those things that temper the restlessness that characterizes that particular moment.

Do Not be Anxious About Anything

You pray, you fast, you saturate your mind with Scripture – all for the sake of pushing back against the situation, resolving the issue and restoring a feeling of calm and confidence.

None of that is wrong. The Bible actually says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6 [see also 2 Kings 20:5; 2 Cor 3:1-8])

But it’s here where my friend introduced a perspective that I hadn’t really considered before that, in many ways, brings to the table the whole of God’s Word and not just those verses that pertain to anxiety and pain.

Did I Miss Something?

Certainly you want to ask, “Why?” After all, perhaps there’s something that you missed that now has you “reaping what you have sown (Gal 6:7).”

It happens. You make mistakes, sometimes you even intentionally ignore the stops God puts in your path because, at the time, you were resolved to do whatever it is you had intended.

But there’s other times where you’re just caught off guard. You get blind sided by something you didn’t expect, or…

Maybe you feel as though you’re being compelled to wait on something that you know God could expedite just by saying the word (Lk 7:1-10). Or perhaps you’re ready to move forward and yet you can’t because of some things that “apparently” have to be done (.

It’s here where you don’t want to content yourself with merely asking “Why?” Rather, you want to include the question, “What?”

“What would you have me do?”

What Would You Have Me Do?

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (Jas 1:2-4 [see also Heb 5:13-14])

It’s not uncommon to read James 1:2-4 and process it as something that’s directed towards that situation where you’re being confronted with a major problem. Perhaps it’s a huge financial challenge, or maybe a health crisis.

But you don’t want to miss the way it starts by saying, “trials of many kinds.”

This isn’t just for the kind of challenge that’s prefaced by a major storm warning. This is anything that translates to any type of tension.

Patience is neither automatic nor intuitive. You see what you want, you recognize what you need and yet, you’re having to wait.

Wait for What?

Wait for what?

This is where it can get really frustrating. You feel like you’ve got all your “i’s” dotted and every “t” has been crossed. What’s being accomplished by being compelled to “wait?”

James provides the answer in the context of letting perseverance finish its work.

God doesn’t waste time (Ecc 3:1-8; Is 60:22; Rom 8:28). However you feel like you’re caught up in a never ending cycle of pointless activities, there is a Plan in place that’s going to include several seasons of training and education you’re going to need in order to fully engage this next chapter of your life.

Effective and Not Just Capable

The word for “mature” is teleios.” It can also be translated as “perfect.” The idea is that your heart and your brain are adequately prepped and positioned so you’re not just “capable,” but you’re truly effective.

And don’t kid yourself into thinking that being “capable” is enough. Going through the motions rarely equates to going through the process.

And here’s the thing…

When you embrace the idea that this waiting period is not just a dormant and foolish waste of time, but instead is a classroom and a gym where you’re being built up into a version of yourself that’s substantially better than what currrently stares back at you in the mirror every morning…

Now you’ve got a different attitude (Rom 12:10-2).

  • You’re not frustrated as much as you are interested.
  • You’re not indifferent, now you’re engaged.
  • You’re taking an inventory of who and what you are and letting God show you where there’s room for improvement and then letting Him make those changes in you.

Once you’re able to discern the purpose that characterizes this season you’re in, it’s an entirely different ballgame and you’re that much more inclined to let your Heavenly Father guide and grow the heart that you’ve now more fully handed over to Him.

It’s good stuff!

A High Point in My Professional Career

When I first reported to the Training Command I was assigned to after Boot Camp, I didn’t immediately see all of what was being accomplished and I initially considered attempting to expedite my training so I could get out to the Fleet and start doing my job.

But within a few weeks, I was able to, not only appreciate all that could be gained by fully immersing myself in the opportunites presented by the training that was being offered, but also realize just how much I needed to improve.

That school turned out to be a high point in my professional career and I often go back to that experience when I find myself having to “wait” on my King to move forward in the direction that I’m wanting to go.

I’m much better at asking “What? and not just “Why?” than I used to be because of the way I’ve been able to see over and over again that “waiting” isn’t always intended to be a stationary position. Sometimes, it’s the needed training program to prep you for that next adventure that’s going to require more of you than what you currently have.

If you’re not sure, ask (Jas 1:5).

But know this: All the days in your life were ordained before one of them came to be (Ps 139:16). This isn’t morning traffic where you can conclusively determine that you wouldn’t have to wait if you had taken a different path.

Maybe, maybe not.

God is in charge and that’s a good thing (Phil 2:13). Don’t just ask “Why? Be sure to also ask “What?”

Give Him the opportunity to show you how He wants you to use this time so you can take advantage of every “class” He’s offering so you can learn and become all that He created you to be.

Now you’re not just capable, you’re truly effective. Nor are you merely existing, now you’re genuinely living!


Bonus: Why You Want to be Spiritually Ripped

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