Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
American country singer Kris Kristofferson sang a great song in 1973—you might remember it was called “Why Me”. It’s a religious song, and turned out to be the biggest hit record for the country singer.
He was well-known in the music scene in the early 1970s, and attended church one Sunday where he heard the Larry Gatlin song “Help me”. That day Kris had a profound religious experience, sitting in the church. It was powerful, and the song “Why Me” came out of that.
He didn’t attend church much, but was kneeling that Sunday morning to accept Jesus Christ as Lord. He was so surprised at his actions. He didn’t know what was going on—he felt a release, and started weeping, and felt a forgiveness that he didn’t know he needed. It was a surprise indeed! And so out of that time came the words:
Why me, Lord, what have I ever done,
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I’ve known.
Tell me, Lord, what did I ever do
That was worth lovin’ you,
Or the kindness you’ve shown.
Help me, Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.
He had humbled himself before God. Kris Kristofferson’s question ‘Why Me’ tugs at the heart of many people. Have you ever said, “Why did you pick on me Lord? What have I done to deserve this—why did my mother die such a painful death? Why is my best friend suffering from the dreaded cancer? Why me? Why did I get retrenched from work when others in my company kept their job?
I think this is one of life’s challenges—being singled out for something unfair, or being victimised. We try in our own way to make sense of awful situations in life, and we become frustrated and angry, and sometimes shake our fist towards heaven and shout, “Why me Lord”. You may even doubt that God is real, or that he has gone away. That’s OK—it’s a normal response. It’s easy to lose faith when you go through pain or suffering especially. It’s tough! Murphy’s Law says that if anything can possibly go wrong, it will.
I like the old quote that says: “A bend in the road is not the end of the road—unless you fail to make the turn.” And stop blaming yourself or others if you’ve reached a bend in the road. You need to stop, take time and talk to God about it. After all he created you and loves you with a divine love that never diminishes. That fact gives you confidence when the bumps get too much and you wonder, How can I take much more of this?
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Let me say it’s a valid question, but there is another option. Try saying: It’s important in life not to have all the right answers, but to ask the right questions. And ‘Why me?’ is not the right question to be asking. Say ‘Why not me?’ Think about that. God has never promised I would sidestep pain or suffering, or that someone close to me would never get an illness.
What do you say, Jesus?
I am just as susceptible to the difficulties, hardships and grief that accompany human existence as anyone else—I’m not entitled to a free pass. But I need to be grateful for all that God has given me. His blessings have been poured out each morning—if only I could see it for myself, and stop complaining.
Robert Coles wrote the book The Spiritual Life of Children, and in it he interviews a woman named Margarita. Her quality of life is limited by the brutal hillside of a favela, a community of shacks on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As she remembers looking at the giant statue of Jesus with his outstretched arms, along the water’s edge, she recalls:
When I look up at Jesus, I wonder what he’s thinking. Can he see us?; he must have an opinion. As a girl I tried to talk to him, but mama would tell us not to worry, we’ll go to heaven, because we’re poor. She said it to shut us up when we were hungry. I used to believe her. Now when I look up at him on that cross, I say, “What do you say, Jesus?”
My little sister is always crying because she doesn’t get enough food! I still have hope that Jesus sees everything that goes on here and that he doesn’t just stare into the ocean like that statue.
Why Me, Lord?
Well, for all of the Margaritas of the world I say, yes, he does see, and he cries along with you. When I ask, Why me, Lord?, Jesus puts his loving arms around me, and instead of answering, Just because, he says, I’m here with you. I love you. He sees the inequities and injustices of the world; he sees my troubles and feels my pain, and I know he understands why we ask why. I am also thankful that he also understands my impatience when I don’t get the answers I want!
Perhaps you heard about the American woman who, two months after escaping the ‘9/11’ terrorist attack on New York City’s World Trade Center, decided to go home to her native Dominican Republic. She was tragically killed in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens, New York City, on 12 November 2001. As she realised they were going down, she must have asked, “Why me, Lord?”
Or the sailor who just back from serving on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, who also was killed in that same crash. There were many others with similar stories, whose families I am sure were asking why.
Have a read sometime of Job in the Old Testament. Here was a man who suffered greatly, and asked, Why me. God had some great words for him.