Why, O why, O why was I still up at midnight on a Tuesday night during one of the busiest weeks of my year? The basketball game – exciting as it was – certainly did not end the way I hoped. Why, O why, O why, did the University of Michigan team look so different from the game just two days prior?
Thirty some hours later I am glad I stayed up for the game – though I use the term “stayed up” loosely. I actually laid down for a nap at 8:00, and then was raised by my alarm at 9:45. A restless sleep and a groggy day were the result, but my “why’s” are more focused upon the behavior of my team than over mine.
Without any more of an answer than “UCLA did what they have been doing the entire tournament,” my mind goes to a more important issuing of the same question. This one comes from the cross of our Savior, Jesus. “My God, my God, why (O why, O why) have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46)
Three quick take-aways I get from these words of Jesus. One, at that very moment Jesus was suffering the pangs of hell for my sin and the sins of the world – he was experiencing total separation from God the Father. Two, the answer to his question is both simple and profound – this was happening because Jesus was willfully making a trade: him freely giving his holiness to humankind in exchange for all human sin of all time (remember, “the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6.23). Three, at the same time Jesus was teaching us a great and important lesson – that we can bring any prayer and any emotion to God our Father without hesitation or explanation. He can handle it, in love. And he wants us to be totally transparent – he can help us all the more when we are!
Another question I ask myself is “Why, O why, O why, in our day and age, do we tend to take sin so lightly?” As I ask this question, I am not asking this of the unbelieving world – I understand that they are spiritually blind and dead (in other words, they do not know any better). My question is directed at myself and other believers – we who should know better. Why, O why, O why do we pick and choose which parts of the Ten Commandments apply to us? Why, O why, O why do we often seem to behave like they do not even apply to us anymore … or spin a tale of our “circumstances” being unique from previous generations? Why, O why, O why do we deprive ourselves of the incredible blessings and holistic wellbeing that comes in a growing relationship with Jesus?
The Apostle Paul poses the question this way: “I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.” (Romans 7.21-25) I like this passage because it not only addresses my “Why, O why, O why,” but also the “What, O what, O what.” What has God done about our condition? – see paragraph four above. O what does this mean? It means he is constantly at work in my life doing two things: forgiving me and working at getting my attention so that I can experience to a greater degree the incredible blessings and wholistic welling he desires me to have. O What is his desired outcome for you and me beyond spending eternity with him in heaven? Try this on for size: “That I may be his own and live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.” Why, O why, O why would any of us desire anything less?