You learned the importance of these questions in grade school. How they help you make sense of everything from a story you read to your experiences. 

And as you look at the state of the world, you have so many questions. A favorite among many is why? Why the pandemic? Why the political upheaval on the heels of it?

And when you look at the issues in your own life, you have more questions. Why did my father abandon us? Why is my friend distancing herself from me? Why did my job get downsized? Why did I lose my loved one?

Why did you let this happen to me, Lord?

James said if you lack wisdom, ask God and he will give you plenty (James 1:5). But not every question gets you wisdom. Some give rise to more frustration.


As an analytical person, I developed quite the habit of asking why. Knowing why gave me a sense of comfort in making sense of what happened. But asking why isn’t always about feeling better.

We ask why when we want answers so we can hold someone accountable. So the more effective question there is, “Who is responsible?” Because outside of a court of law, “why” rarely gets answered.

Even God passes on that question because if he explained, you likely wouldn’t understand. His thoughts are higher and his ways are different. So what he’d tell you would go right over your head. Mine too!


And if you think about it, “why” is a knee jerk question that doesn’t leave you satisfied.

Have you ever talked with a four-year-old whose favorite word is why? No matter what you answer, they want to know why that is so.

You’ll save yourself a lot of headache if you realize they don’t really want to know why, they just don’t know what else to ask.

You and I do the same in response to trauma or tragedy.

We want to know why and though the answer may give us temporary satisfaction, it won’t change the situation or our sorrow.

So while it’s natural to ask “Why did this happen to me?” Don’t get stuck there waiting for an answer. Use another question from your Elementary School tool belt—“what.”

What shall I do instead? What does this mean for future? What should I learn from this? Or my new favorite: what’s happened for me because of this?


And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28 NKJV

Because if God truly works all things together for the good of those who are His—and it’s true because he’s not a man that he should lie—then he can even work the unexpected and undesirable situations in life for your benefit as well.

As I always say, “If it happens to me, he’ll make it work for me.”


Asking “Why did this happen to me?” reflects a victim mindset that sees life as a concerted effort against you.

“What did this make happen for me?” is the question for a victor who believes God will work even this together for my good.

This is not to make little of your grief, your loss, your betrayal, [insert your trial here]. I’m saying make the most of what you suffered by asking the questions that help you grow the most from it.

“Why” questions either go unanswered or not answered to your satisfaction, which eventually leads to hopelessness.

“What” questions invite exploration, leading to discovery. “What did this make happen for me” denotes a positive expectation of good—the Bible kind of hope rooted in God’s goodness and his goodness to you.


So my question for you is “Why ask why?” Are you asking out of reflex or is the answer necessary for you to decide how to best move forward?

Your answer depends on the situation, but more often than not, the quest for “why” leaves you on a hamster wheel.

“What next?” Helps you move forward in faith.

QUESTION: How will asking “what” questions help you move forward in faith? I’d love to know in the comments below.

I’m rooting for you!


Got A Minute to Pray? Prayer channel on YouTube featuring prayers about a minute long written and read by Vanessa A. Harris.

New “PrayerTube” channel on YouTube

Features prayers about a minute long written and read by Vanessa. Start your week off right, with a prayer on Monday mornings. Because prayer changes things and you have a minute to spare.


Join me for Motherhood Unmasked

It’s the podcast for you, the mom battling the effects of your childhood trauma on your parenting journey.

Let’s get real about the challenges we face, so you’re as comfortable in your skin as you want your kids to be in theirs. TUESDAYS on any platform where you enjoy music and podcasts.

And may I introduce to you…

The Motherhood Unmasked Journal

Beautiful on the outside, but simple on the inside with lined pages for you to fill with the victories and valleys of your motherhood journey.

Perfect for you, a new mom, a mom who journals with her child, and the mom wanting to leave a “lessons learned” keepsake for her daughter.

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