Someone once observed, “There are no problems, only opportunities, some of which are insurmountable.” Take a look around you. There are a lot of guys facing what looks like insurmountable opportunities. You may be one of them.
Even if you’ve not been personally affected by a recent job loss or other adversity, it’s likely you have a friend who has. Calamity comes to all of us at one time or another. Jesus said the rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). And right now there’s a lot of us getting soaked.
Not long ago I was following behind a rather large truck on my drive to the office. You know the kind; sixteen wheels, each taller than the roof of my car. When, suddenly, bam! My car jerked violently. I heard the hard clang of the struts compressing until there was no more give. What was a mere divot for the semi-truck in front of me became a massive pothole for my car. Without a clear view of the road ahead, that pothole, and the damage that came with it, was unavoidable.
Life is like that. We all go through our potholes. Some we can see. Some we can’t. As long as we keep going, it usually works out just fine. But sometimes we hit a big one–the kind that shakes our foundations and stops us hard. When those potholes hit us, serious damage can occur. When it consumes all of our energy, it’s no longer just a pothole–it’s degenerated into a sinkhole, robbing us of the ability to move on.
One sure way to turn an ordinary pothole into a sinkhole is a question we often ask. It’s a simple question dressed in an attitude of protest. “Why?” Why is this happening? “Why” questions are sinkhole questions because the answer lies in the metaphysical and defies constructive value.
A toddler will incessantly string “why?” questions together until they’ve exhausted their parent in a seemingly never ending game. Some “whys” are just plain silly. Here are a few of my favorites: Why is the third hand on a watch called a second hand? Why isn’t there mouse flavored cat food? Why do they put Braille on the keypad of drive-up ATMs? Even an old beer commercial asks, “Why ask why?” It’s a good question.
“Whys” asked on the backside of a pothole are the most hazardous. That’s because at the heart of those “why” questions lie the destructive twins of blame and shame. And like the inquisition of an incessant toddler, they have no satisfactory answer. Blame questions sound a lot like, “why is God doing this?” The implication is that God doesn’t really love me or He wouldn’t have allowed this to happen. Likewise, I might believe that He’s just trying to teach me a lesson and once I learn it, He’ll remove the burden from me. Either way, I’m blaming God for the situation I’m in. The shame generated corollary asks “why does this always happen to me?” The implication is that I’m defective. Like the character “Pig-Pen” from the Peanuts comic strip, a cloud always seems to surround me. Even when something good happens, I’m keenly aware that at any time the other shoe might drop. Bad things come in threes and good things just don’t last.
My only escape from sinkholes is in the long and loving arms of Jesus reaching down and reminding me to learn from him and enter His rest (Matthew 11:29). Like the parent to the toddler, he says to me, “give the questions a rest for now and just enjoy my love for you.”
The next time a pothole comes your way and you’re tempted to ask “why?” steer clear of the question. There’s no rest in that sinkhole. Instead, there are much better questions to ask. Three of them, in fact, which I’ll share with you in future posts (read it now). You can also listen to a thirty minute message on this topic by clicking here.
Have you hit any potholes recently? How did you keep them from becoming a sinkhole for you?