On June 17, 2015 I was admitted to the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. My wife and I were told that I was in heart failure but everything was “okay.” I was even told that I would go home “by the weekend… at the latest.”
Well, that didn’t happen.
Not much longer being told that sentiment, I was flown by helicopter to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Apparently, I was in critical condition and everything was not “okay.”
On top of having countless surgeries during my 10 week medically-induced coma, my entire family had to watch helplessly as I had to be resuscitated over 75 times. Every day I was on the brink of death and no one really knew what would happen in the end.
Long story short, I suffered a hypoxic brain injury to my cerebellum and I was also implanted with the Left Ventricular Assistive Device (LVAD) to help my heart’s blood flow to my body. I woke up with two surprises:
I was disabled and chronically ill.
In the four and a half years since I first became sick and disabled I have received many questions. The most common question people ask is, “Do you ever wonder ‘Why me?’ Do you ever question God’s goodness?”
The simple answer is: No. The more in-depth answer is: I wonder ‘Why me?’ but for a completely different reason.
The Other ‘Why Me?’ Question
I am asked some variation of the ‘Why me’ question over and over again. And I get why people ask it, however people are very disappointed when I give my answer.
For a long time I would say something like, “By God’s grace, I’ve never asked the ‘Why me?’ question. If anything this time of my life made me ask ‘Why me?’ in regards to why did God save me.”
In this season of suffering, pain, and lifelong health issues, I have been given the blessing to simply be in wonder of God’s grace shown to me.
Don’t get it twisted, that does not mean that things are not painful and difficult on a daily basis. They are.
The real, and honestly, the more important question, to me is:
“Why does God give grace, especially saving grace, to anyone? Why did God give megrace, forgiveness, and redemption in Jesus Christ?”
What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible reveals to us that God chose “before the foundation of the world” those who he would save (Ephesians 1:4). That means he decided to save people before they were even able to choose sin over God. Since all people are sinful (Romans 3:12, 23) and do not want God (Romans 8:7-8), we know take the grace that God gives to those who believe is completely of his own doing.
There is no reason that God would choose to save anyone except that he has chosen to do so. He does so out of his own love and he chose to love us first (1 John 4:9-10,19).
John Piper put it well when he said, “[God] saved you sovereignly because he decided to.”
That seems too simplistic but it has brought great comfort and peace. Also, he has the final say over what is done with his creation because he alone is God.
I learned those things years before I became disabled and chronically ill, so when suffering came rushing into my life I knew that God’s grace toward sinners is truly the greatest mystery of all.
Pride and Humility Are Your Options
When we ask ‘Why me’ when it comes to pain and suffering, most of the time it comes from us believing that we deserve a life without pain, being wealthy and healthy. We believe that we are good people, or at least better than most. Our logic about pain and suffering is born out of our pride.
We deserve one thing: hell. And the fact that God chooses to save some, by his sovereign choosing, is a gift that none of us deserve.
We are to live lives with humility and unending astonishment of the grace that God has given through Jesus Christ.
I don’t ask ‘Why me?’ because I’m too busy focusing on the breathtaking reality of his saving grace given to a wretch like me.