Why me?
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2020 - 12:00am

When people initially posted mysterious statements about the “Black Mamba” or “Why Kobe” I did not immediately pick up on what will probably be the most shocking and greatest loss for 2020. While I respect Kobe Bryant’s achievements and contributions in life, I have to confess that what caused me grief was finding out that his beloved 13-year-old daughter Gigi also died in the helicopter crash. I am a father to a young lady and that is all the connection I need to shed tears and feel the loss.

In the middle of all of this, a family friend from California posted this on Facebook: “Australia’s fire; Taal Volcano eruption; Wuhan coronavirus; Kobe Bryant’s passing…#CanWeRestart2020???”  The post certainly makes you pause and reflect on all the tragedies and disasters that have happened in less than a month. There are even more painful tragedies that we have not heard or read about because they are simply too personal, too painful and totally overwhelming for those affected.

Last Sunday, we were suppose to hear part 3 of a preaching sermon on God’s Grace, but instead, our Pastors in Victory Batangas and Lipa City decided to change the topic title to “Why Me?” because it was a question they heard hundreds of times while they ministered to evacuees who lost their homes and their livelihood when Taal volcano erupted. As one victim put it: “It feels like losing everything you’ve lived for.”

We’ve all had our “Why Me?” moments, perhaps some of you are actually going through one. Someone who had lost a loved one once told me that in those moments none of the consolation or encouragement really registered. We are either in too much shock or desperately denying what is. People often say that the best thing we can do is simply to listen and put your hand out to comfort people. You might think it’s such a lame or insufficient response but come to think of it, your presence, a comforting hand and expressing your concern and sharing the moment of loss, all that represents God in human form especially when people feel abandoned or defeated. It is not “the good in us” but “the God in us” that makes us compassionate and caring.

I’ve had my share of life’s many tragedies, dark moments and great loss. More than anything, and anybody, what kept me from crossing over several times is the abiding faith that in spite of it all God is in control. Whether it was in a desperate last prayer or down on the floor in a pool of tears, or lying in bed frightened by the prospects of the coming day; I held on to that belief, cried out and reached out to God.

During the Sunday preaching, our Pastor, Ricky Vistan used two Bible personalities as reference; both individuals suffered extreme injustice, great loss and extreme physical or mental suffering. Job an older, godly, rich and influential person enjoyed the fruits of his lifelong efforts and had the respect of his peers. But one day the Devil and God get into a discussion about Job who ends up going through a test you would not wish upon your worst enemy; Job lost all of his material possessions, then he loses all his children. Last but not the least he ends up with boils covering all of his body. At the height of his suffering, Job’s wife tells him to curse God and die. But he said to her: You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed receive good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” What is interesting is that Job spends most of his time discussing the attributes of God instead of complaining about his state. People have always wondered why good things happen to bad people if God is in charge. I tell them to focus on the last four words of their question; God is in charge.

The second character was Joseph, a young, favored and privileged son who ends up being sold as a slave by his own brothers, accused of attempted rape by the adulterous wife of his employer and then left to rot in a dungeon. Through it all, Joseph the slave and prisoner faithfully served his captors and fellow prisoners. He did not lash out with curses against God or complain about the great injustice done to him. Instead his focus was in the belief that one day he would find justice and be freed from prison. Being a faithful servant slave was merely his coping mechanism. It is often said that if you want to be cured of your pain, go and heal the pain of others. Job and Joseph showed an abiding faith in God, humility and submission to God’s will and design, and they both really truly believed that God would hear their lament or their plea and answer their prayers. It was not a “maybe” or “if I try hard” maybe God will hear me. They were certain. That certainty does not come from religion, it comes from practice. It is what produces both faith and hope.

When you have a relationship with someone you eventually have a way of knowing if you can count on someone or depend on them in tough times. You know if someone is there for convenience and comfort or if that someone won’t let go even after everyone else has left and gone. The same goes for God. Only when you’ve walked through life with God will you know that he will be there for you. That’s why he is often quoted as saying; “I will never leave you nor abandon you.” The pain does not become less, the loss is not reduced, and the challenge does not get easier. But our abiding faith makes it certain that “this too shall pass” and that God has something worth hoping for.

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

 

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