Recently, I developed cellulitis in my right leg. Cellulitis, for those not aware, is a potentially serious infection in the tissue and fat layer just below the skin. It involved (in my case) swelling, redness, heated areas, fever, and a LOT of pain. Cellulitis (not to be confused with cellulite), if not treated early and aggressively, can quickly develop into sepsis and be fatal. Fortunately, mine was treated by qualified staff and I was sent home from the hospital after a 6 day “vacation” (as my friends and family called it!)
I had a very brief depressed time on day 3, as I understand is normal. I had so many “What if” questions. What if we can’t stop the infection? My infection continued to spread until day 3. What about my income? What if I lose my leg and can’t earn an income? How do I prevent this next time? To make things worse, all the doctors and nurses constantly asked me how this happened. Did I cut my leg anywhere? Even a small scrape or cut could compromise the skin, allowing bacteria to enter and grow. In some cases, even injury causing a bruise can cause cellulitis. Through many inspections, doctors, nurses, my wife, nor I could find any place where my skin had been damaged. Again, no clear answers.
During my stay, I had the great privilege of many talks with God. As a result of those talks, my perspective changed. I have a very supportive family and caring friends. In most of my visits with them, one question would always arise. How did this happen? Why did this happen? In my case, I never received a clear answer to why it happened. Because there were no marks or injury to my leg, there’s no way to answer that decisively. Those questions always led to the next, Does God cause things like this or does He allow things like this?
These two questions got me thinking. If God caused this, why would He do that? Doesn’t He care? Doesn’t He see my pain? If He caused it, either: 1, He simply doesn’t care, or worse, 2, He has a sadistic side to Him. If I choose to believe that He simply allowed it to happen, that belief cushions the blow, but not by much.
I do not hold to either of those two philosophies. In fact, I believe we are asking the wrong questions. When things don’t go right for us, our first response is to figure out why it happened. Consider these events in US history: September 11, Hurricane Katrina (and others), and Sandy Hook and other school shootings. In all of these tragic events, we all wanted answers to the “Why?” question. I believe that in some situations those answers do not exist. What better way to get discouraged than to search so passionately for something that doesn’t exist, all the time hoping that once we find those answers we will somehow be satisfied or justified for the pain we have experienced.
So, what is the right question? We have all heard the cliché that hindsight is 20/20. That implies that after the crisis is over, we can see the good that came from the pain. Looking back, we can see God working in ways that was not clear then. If we can look back and see the hand of God, it must have been there the whole time.
I suggest to you that the right question to ask is “What is God’s purpose in all this?”.
Instead of “Why has this happened?”, ask “What is God doing through all this?”. Not “Why me”, but “What are you doing through me?” The first questions focus on the past, which is something that no one can change. They reveal an expectation of God to reveal His reasons, as if we are victims and deserve better. God does not honor that attitude.
The second questions turn our attention and energy toward a higher calling, a divine purpose, and a God that loves and cares about us. And because there is a greater plan much bigger than myself, I want to be a part of it. He wants me to be a part of His plan. He has a job just waiting or me to do that only I can do in the way in which I can do it. And that’s why he has chosen me and this is what is required in my life to prepare me. It is a privilege to be hand-picked by a God that has 7.5 billion other people to choose from. Out of all those people, He wants me on His team because He believes that I can play that position better than anyone else, at this time, in this place. That is extremely humbling. I wonder if I’m up to the job, but the One who knows everything must be right.
I’m not saying that all of this comes easily and naturally. I had to remind myself of this. My message to you is this: If you can look back at today from some point in the future and see the good, then the good is in your life right now. He loves you now, he likes you now, He has chosen you now, and He has a purpose for you. Right. Now. You have been placed at this time and place for a very specific purpose. When you focus on the purpose, you will experience the good now, because you are trusting the One that hand-picked you.
You are at least 1 in 7,500,000,000 people and He chose you. Act like it. Behave like it. Trust like it. Because that’s how God sees you.