Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why Me, Lord?

I hear that a lot, you know: “Why me, Lord?”  It usually comes on the heels of something bad: bad news, bad diagnosis, bad break.  It’s often accompanied by tears and anger and angst.  Why me, Lord?

I’ve been thinking about that lately for a number of reasons—but in a different way, a Kris Kristofferson way.  Do you remember his song from the 70s? 

Why me, Lord?  What have I have done
to deserve even one
of the pleasures I’ve known?

I would change the word pleasures to blessings though they are much the same.

Here’s why this has been so on my mind?  It came to my attention near the end of 2011 that it had been 8 years since my last colonoscopy.  I had two in my 40s and both of them revealed polyps.  They were benign but they were there.  And since my dad had colon cancer twice and died from it the second go-around, I’m a risk for the very same thing.  I can’t tell you why, but I began to worry about this.  Maybe it’s because I’m up to my ears in the various cancers people in my congregation battle.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been so blessed with health, I wonder when it will be my turn to lose it.  So I worried.  I worried for the three months it took me to get an appointment to have it done.  I was very disappointed in myself.  I don’t typically worry a lot.  The Lord has my back and has my life in His good hands, so why worry?  Worry does no good and can’t change a thing, so why worry?  The Bible instructs me to pray rather than worry, but I still worried.  I finally had the test near the end of March.  I sort of expected to be told I had cancer.  Well, I had a couple of polyps but no cancer.  Why me, Lord?

Then I had my annual appointment with my dermatologist in April.  I had one skin cancer removed a few years ago and several pre-cancer spots frozen off over the years.  I didn’t see anything suspicious this go around so I had no concern … until the doctor found a small spot on my back that he believed needed a biopsy.  It was dark, irregular, didn’t look right.  “Could be a melanoma,” he said.  “We need to check it out.”  Thankfully, I didn’t worry so much about this for the ten days it took to get word on the biopsy.  And when I got word, the word was good.  Why me, Lord?

And then there’s my family.  I’m blessed with two grown children who have children of their own.  They are healthy, happy, employed, and deeply invested in the kingdom of God and their local church.  Why me, Lord?

And then there’s this church I serve.  I got a call this morning from a man in his 80s.  He asked me to pray for a friend of his who was just diagnosed with a brain tumor and was scheduled for surgery today.  My friend from the church has shared his faith with this man for years.  He’s prayed for him.  He’s loved him.  He’s burdened for him.  And he called me to ask me to pray that God would use this cancer to open his friend’s heart to Jesus and salvation and life.  And here’s the deal: I serve a church with lots of people just like him.  God put me in a church with many people who love God and others and God’s world, people who invest time and treasure and heart into God’s worldwide kingdom.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure it’s all not a dream.  Why me, Lord?

And then there’s this: today would have been my mother’s 84th birthday.  She went through a good bit of hell in her life, and I suspect I contributed a bit of it along the way.  She had a hellish and violent marriage until she found the courage to walk away (for which I don’t think she ever forgave herself).  She had a stroke of sorts that left her unable to use her right side from her late 30s till she died.  She had to learn to walk and write and do everything left-handed.  She barely had enough money to live on.  She battled two rounds of cancer.  She lived alone the rest of her life, and she developed enough dementia in her last couple of years that the last time I saw her it took her all day to remember my name.  I was not the son I should have been to a woman who sacrificed a lot for my brothers and I and who endured a lot of hardship in her life without ever losing her faith.  Why me, Lord?

I don’t get it—better people than I am are in some pretty deep pits right now.  Why them and not me?  I don’t understand why God has blessed me so.  I don’t deserve it.  But I guess that’s why it’s called grace.  And I guess that’s why grace is best described as amazing.  So for now, I’ll just humbly give thanks, while I scratch my head and shrug my shoulders at it all.  And I’ll pray for the faith and the courage and the strength to be able to say a little something different if and when some serious trouble comes crashing into my life or my family: “Why not me, Lord?  And even then, I pray I’ll never lose my deep sense of God’s blessing in my life.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
And his steadfast love endures forever.
(Psalm 136:1)


  1. Thank you John for sharing. This hit a chord with me as well as I have been blessed beyond all expectations and still ask that question.

  2. Thank you for the reminder, John. So much of what you say here reminds me to be thankful, as I'm reading this sitting beside my beautiful and patient wife, while our 3 boys are playing and laughing together beside us. "Why me?" indeed!

    Also, the more I'm around members of your congregation, the more blessed I feel. What a great church!


  3. Thank you John for making us stop and count our blessing today. God is good, all the time.