Psalm 80:12, in addition to other verses throughout the Bible, includes an interesting phrase:
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It sent out its branches to the sea
and its shoots to the River.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? (emphasis added)
Why then, indeed.
How often we experience this question, often in the context of an if/then inquiry:
If, God, why then…?
We wonder how his character fits into our perception of his action, or how his action fits with another action.
You are good, God. Why then would you let this happen?
I thought you loved me, God. Why then is this so hard?
I know you’ve provided in this way for others. Why then not now?
We primarily ask this question when we’ve inserted ourselves into the equation to be solved. How we ask questions of God matters. Do we place ourselves in the center and bring God in just for the solution or blame? Or do we keep God in the center of it? Are we more concerned with what God can do for us or how deeply we are getting to know God? How willing are we to let him displace our perspective?
God’s patience astounds me. Why doesn’t he toss the same question back: I created you. I provide for you. I guide you. I am always available and present. Why then do you squirm so much and get distracted in your pride and push me aside?
He probably doesn’t ask because he knows the answer. He created us, and he knows. And he tolerates our why thens. I want my why thens to be about getting to know him instead of my attempt to take charge to gather information and understand how it all affects me and what I can gain from it.
If this challenges you, too, why then won’t you change?