Posted by: Randall Niles | April 21, 2010

WHY ME? Faith Seeking Understanding

In connection with the economic downturn and other crazy world events, are you feeling singled out – alone – confused – scared?

Are you experiencing pain, suffering, or downright evil in your life?

Are you currently asking, “Why me?”

As you reflect on your situation, here’s a story that might provide some guidance…

There was this guy named Augustine who was born in 354 AD. When he was 19, he read an essay by Cicero on the meaning of “truth,” and it was then and there that he dedicated himself to pursuing such an intriguing, yet illusive notion.

During his philosophical journey, Augustine experienced a great deal of pain and suffering in his life. He went through phases of severe depression and grief. If there was really a God, why was he witnessing things that appeared contrary to his character? Truth and evil seemed irreconcilable, so Augustine kept jumping from philosophy to philosophy for many years.

In his thirties, Augustine had a supernatural experience “as if a light of relief from all anxiety flooded into [his] heart.” It was then that “all the shadows of doubt were dispelled” and he accepted God as part of his life.

Although Augustine would become a great man of faith, he continued to struggle with the pain, suffering and evil allowed by God in the world. He wrote:

“There is nothing that even the most gifted people desire more than to finally understand how, taking into account the amount of evil in this world, one can still believe that God cares about human affairs.”

Augustine grappled with this paradox for decades. He wrote volumes on God’s nature in scripture and God’s apparent desire for humanity. In the end, he determined that God created us for a relationship with him, and that real relationships are impossible with puppets. Apparently, God wanted us to have the capacity to freely choose or reject him, and this free will gave us the capacity to choose love or hate — good or evil.

Before he died, Augustine concluded, “God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil at all.”

So, you’re still asking “Why Me?”

Fair enough. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. Anselm of Canterbury once used a phrase, “fides quaerens intellectum,” which means “faith seeking understanding.” One can only seek to grow in understanding by questioning…

However, sometimes the “Why” questions can only go so far – Sometimes thoughts of philosophy and religion leave us hanging for real answers. Sometimes we need to stop and focus on the “What” and the “Who” in life.

The great thinker A.W. Tozer once shared, “When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself.”

Something to think about as you pursue the journey ahead,

Randall Niles


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