The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Why not me?

This is the question every one of us could ask

I am almost certainly the only person you will ever meet — either on a page or in person — with my medical condition. I have Hippel-Lindau disease. Basically, this genetic problem causes the tiny capillary blood vessels to tangle up in knots in various parts of the body. It doesn't result in circulation difficulties, but when these knots, or tumors, occur in the brain and spinal cord, they can cause paralysis. That is what they have done to me. My paralysis isn't quite as extensive as actor Christopher Reeve's, but close.

There is no cure on the horizon. There is little chance I will get better. There is every likelihood I will get worse. I could even lose my eyesight and hearing.

I ask many questions. But one I've never asked is: "Why me?"

Every one of us could just as well ask: "Why not me?" Why have I not contracted AIDS? Why have I not developed rheumatoid arthritis? The list of "why-nots" is all but infinite.

Another question I haven't thought about long is: "Why do bad things happen to good people?" To be sure, many Christians, from great theologians and saints to more ordinary believing people, have gained rich insights and deeper faith through such quests. But there is always someone sharp enough to poke holes in any solution to the problem of evil. Maybe — just maybe — everything does happen for a reason. But who dares to say what those reasons are?

What I do think about, and believe, is the insight of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, when he forgave his brothers for nearly killing him and selling him into slavery: "Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good." Whoever or whatever intends to do me harm or evil, God is present with me to bring about good.

Of course, this idea brings forth more questions, beginning with: Just how does God bring good out of evil? We will always have unanswered and unanswerable questions. Faith is God's gift that enables us to live with the questions, in the very midst of them.


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