Written By Jason Chen, Taiwan (Originally in Traditional Chinese)
Why Me? That was the grabbing title of a book I read recently; a question which triggered a lot of memories.
Implied in those two words is the larger question: Why does God allow people to suffer unbearable pains? There was once I asked God that very question. It happened at a time when I lost a loved one, and was facing family conflict, pressure from studies, relationship difficulties, faltering faith, and suffering from panic and anxiety disorder, all at once. The aggregated pain and suffering I experienced almost broke my spirit completely. I felt like I had fallen into an abyss I could not get out of. At some point (I don’t recall exactly when), I started shunning people during the day, fearful of their gaze and suffocated by their presence. I also lost my appetite. At night, I experienced loneliness, emptiness, and fear. I was often startled by my own dreams and as a result, was always deprived of sleep. I felt that no one could understand my thoughts or feelings; even I could barely recognize myself anymore.
During that time, some people told me to “cast all [my] anxiety on God.” Not only did I fail to comprehend what it meant, it left me with further questions. What does it mean to “cast”? How do I even “cast”? Others told me to “pray and give thanks in all things.” Who says I didn’t try? But it just felt like I was walking through a valley of despair. I cried, knelt by my bedside and looked to the cross, praying and hoping that God would deliver me from my spiralling pit of despair. Yet after praying, I always felt like nothing had changed and peace continued to elude me. On many occasions, my body would shake as I cried to God from the bottom of my heart, “Lord, save me! I am at my wit’s end, perplexed and almost driven to the point of insanity. I feel like I’m falling off a cliff and am about to face death. Dear Lord, would you please reveal yourself to me and answer my prayers quickly. Why am I suffering? Why me?” Time and time again I questioned God, in the exact same way the title of the book read.
Now as I look back on what I went through, I realize that what I had gained was one of the most precious lessons I could ever learn—to wait upon the Lord.
During the time that God did not seem to answer my cries, He was actually teaching me to wait upon Him; when I had lost all my strength, He was teaching me to submit all that I had to Him; when I could not see any hope and future ahead, He was teaching me to trust in Him with full assurance. While it seemed like my Savior was not immediately responding to my cries, He was in fact preparing the best for me, giving me what I needed to strengthen my body, heart, and soul.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV). God’s promises never fail. When I learned to submit during hard times and seek His kingdom and righteousness first, He led me to understand truth. He helped me face life challenges such as the loss of a loved one, family conflicts, pressure from school, etc. He also healed my heart and health (I went from 55 kg to 67 kg). He strengthened my faith so that I could share Christ’s love with my family, bringing harmony and laughter into a family originally filled with strife. I even had the chance to invite them to go to church with me.
Reflecting on this journey, I cannot help but praise this amazing and great God. Perhaps all of us have asked God this question before. But if we learn to view it from a different perspective, we will be able to see how He is teaching us submission through trials, reliance through infirmity, and trust through weakness. And one day, as we look back on our experiences, we will exclaim, “Lord, thank you that You have chosen me!”