It was the most shocking and emotionally devastating time in my life to date. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve broken down in tears as an adult, and this accounted for two of those times. Oh sure, I’ve watched the occasional sappy movie that makes my eyes sweat a little, but I mean real tears. I’m not a super emotional guy, but some things in life are simply too much to take.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my cubicle at work and my phone started ringing. A name popped up on my caller-ID that I hadn’t seen in a while. It was Andy, my best friend’s brother, calling to inform me that my best friend, Adam, a Navy SEAL, had been killed in action. Shock coursed throughout my body. It was unbelievable. I couldn’t process it. I stoically walked into my supervisor’s office, informed him of what had happened and requested the day off. I drove home still in disbelief and feeling numb to everything.
When I got home, my wife was already crying having seen the news on a Facebook post. I hugged her and then asked if I could be alone for a moment. She nodded, so I went into our room, shut the door, and knelt at our bed to pray. As I knelt there and finally began to cry, I simply asked “why?” There I was, a preacher’s kid, in preacher school myself, who had been around the Bible my entire life, but I didn’t know what to do or what to think in that moment. Dealing with death in real life is a lot different than an academic exercise or a theological argument. It was real. And my brain wasn’t in charge—my heart was. If, before that moment, you had asked me for advice when facing the loss of a loved one, I could have recited the correct Biblical answers with ease. But in that moment, I simply hurt like everyone else. I wanted to know why my life-long best friend was gone. I hadn’t planned or practiced my prayer. But with a vulnerable heart, I simply reached out to God and pleaded for Him to help me understand “why?”
“Why not”, came a response within me? Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t actually hear a voice, but I felt an understanding—a response—pass over me. The words “why not?” resounded in my mind. It sounds like a calloused response, but it wasn’t. I believe in that moment I had an encounter with Godly wisdom. I believe God was taking some head knowledge and marrying it to my experience. I had entered the room desiring to know why my best friend was gone, but I believe God used it as an opportunity to change and grow my perspective. I would soon find, the answer to “why not?” was eternally important.
“Why not?” The question hung there until my heart and mind began to automatically search for an answer. Adam had been in a very dangerous job, so no matter how invincible we young men like to think we are, we all knew his death was possible. But as I knelt there praying and thinking, I realized there is a deeper truth to Adam’s mortality—to my mortality. Adam had not died simply because he had a dangerous job—that was the vehicle through which he died, but it wasn’t the cause. Adam died for the same reason we all will die, because all humans sin and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Adam was never going to live on this earth forever, no matter what job he had, and neither would I. We are all temporary residents here. A memory rested on my mind. It was a night ten years earlier at youth group when Adam had given his life to Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. Before, I had known intellectually how important the night of Adam’s salvation was, but as I knelt on my knees mourning the loss of my friend, I realized that his decision to trust Christ for salvation was the only thing that really mattered.
Adam is gone from this world. It hurt then and will continue to hurt. I will miss him for the rest of my life, but I have peace. I have peace because Adam is gone, but not lost. I have peace because Adam made the most important decision of his life at the age of sixteen. He trusted Jesus, the only one who offers hope beyond this life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important and precious message we could ever share. It is the single greatest thing to which we can dedicate our lives. My mind had already been convinced of those truths before I lost Adam. Intellectually, I knew the Gospel to be true and vital. But now, I feel the importance of the Gospel because it gives me hope for my friend.
James 1:5 says, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.”
When I was a child, I thought that this passage simply referred to all wisdom. I thought it meant that God would grant us any wisdom if we would just pray for it. Secretly, I equated wisdom to intelligence. So, when I struggled with math, I prayed that God would make math easier. I thought of Solomon praying his selfless prayer for God to make him a wise ruler over Israel, and God being so pleased with Solomon’s selfless request that God not only blessed him with wisdom, but with unparalleled riches as well. I’m not discounting these possibilities—God can do what He wants—but we would do well to recognize that James 1:5 is surrounded by verses about difficult times—trials. In fact, James 1:2-12 teaches at least four different lessons about trials.
So what do you do when you go through a trial? I know one thing that I have done. I went to God and asked “why”. I wanted God’s wisdom. I wanted His answer on why He would allow my best friend to be taken out of this world. And you know what, I believe with all my heart that He answered me. Do you want to know “why” you’re going through something difficult? Ask Him! God promises wisdom when we ask for it in faith (read James 1:5-7 for context on faith).
What other questions might you ask God during a difficult time?
- Why did this happen?
- Will life ever be the same?
- Will this ever end? How can I endure?
- What should I learn from this? How should I grow?
- Do I need to change something so this doesn’t happen again? My decisions, actions, or habits?
- How can I keep going? Will you give me strength?
I don’t know what questions you’ll want to ask when you face a difficult time, but I know where there is wisdom. When you want wisdom, go to God. And when we ask God for wisdom, in faith, He “gives to all generously and ungrudgingly.” God wants to help us through difficult times. He’s not an impatient Father. He’s a gracious and generous Father. I’m not making false promises, I’m simply citing a promise from Scripture. If you go to God in faith, and ask Him for wisdom during your trial, God will give it to you generously and ungrudgingly.
I praise God that I’ll see my best friend again, and I praise God that He’s given my heart and my mind the peace that comes with the wisdom of knowing the truth of the Gospel.
If you know someone this could help, feel free to share it with them.
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