The thought is not original. I heard a preacher say it at a funeral, and it triggered a flood of thoughts in my mind. "Our whys," he said, "were answered by Jesus on the cross."
Jesus' words were, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
Why didn't God deliver Jesus from the cross?
Why? Because His death would serve a greater good. "He who knew no sin" was about to become sin for us! That was the 'why' of Calvary! A lesser good gave way to a greater good!
"The greater good" is the answer to the "whys" of pain and suffering. To win a world to Christ is a greater good than my deliverance from pain and suffering. To be an example of faith in unfavorable circumstances is a greater good than a life free from adversities.
But most of us overlook the greater good when praying. We don't know how to pray as we ought. We only see the little picture ... our little picture. God wants us to see things as He sees them. That's why He has sent the Holy Spirit who prays for us "according to the will of God" ... the big picture!
There are those who tell us that we shouldn't pray, "Not mine, but Thine." They say it shows a lack of faith. They act as though, if God had His way, He wouldn't heal them. Amazing! Certainly, if God is unwilling to heal, no amount of naming and claiming is going to bring deliverance.
On the other hand, if God wants to heal us, why are we so afraid to pray, "Not mine, but Thine”? It seems to me to be a total unconcern for God's will. It seems to me to be proof positive that all we are concerned about is our own will!
Actually, the problem lies right there ... in wanting our own will. If we want healing more than the will of God, then we are going to fear the will of God. Had Jesus wanted His own will more than my salvation, He would never have said, "Not mine, but Thine!" Thank God, He put my welfare before His own! I am saved today because Jesus put God's will ahead of His own!
Now think of it. Are we saying it is wrong to follow the example of our Lord? Is it wrong to want His will even more than our personal comfort and pleasure? How are we to learn Christ-likeness if we put healing ahead of faith, long suffering, and love for others? And how is the world to be won for Christ if we constantly cater to our own ease and happiness?
Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross. He took no joy in the cross. He sweat drops of blood at the thought of becoming sin for us. He took no pleasure in death. But knowing there was no other way to save the world, He said, "Not my will, but Thine be done!" And having done the will of God, He now joyously looks back at the travail of His soul, and is satisfied.
Jesus knew why He was to die. Yet, in His agony, He cried, "Why?" If Jesus was allowed a "why," I'm sure God will allow us a "Why”! But we must remember what else Jesus did. Having said, "If it be Thy will remove this cup from me," He added, "Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done." We, too, have a right to pray as Jesus did, "If it be Thy will, remove this cup." But, like Jesus, we must add the words, "Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done."
We don't always know "why," but one thing we do know ... God knows "why," and has good reason for allowing us to suffer. We must trust God to know the greater good, even if we cannot see it. So, whether it is deliverance or death, the important thing is the will of God. And this is where faith comes in. It takes great faith to trust when we cannot see.
Two things were true of all the patriarchs mentioned in chapter eleven of Hebrews:
1. They all died.
2. They all had faith.
Some were delivered, some were not.
Those who were not delivered had no less faith than those who were delivered. Why, then, do we look at the undelivered as though something was wrong with their faith?
Hebrews 11 would indicate that the faith of the undelivered was stronger, if anything, than that of those who were delivered, for they "were tormented, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection”!
Take heart, you who have prayed and are still in pain. A better resurrection awaits you!
Don't get me wrong. God does heal. He has provided for it in the atonement. He has told us to pray for those who are sick among us. He has said the prayer of faith shall save the sick and the Lord shall raise him up. It's a promise, and we have every right to claim it.
But nowhere in God's Word does it say the undelivered are guilty of sin.
No preacher has a right to put a guilt trip on a person in a wheelchair. To encourage them to believe, yes. To pray for their deliverance, yes. To preach that healing is in the atonement (as are all blessings we receive from God), yes! But a guilt trip, no! Jesus didn't do it, and we shouldn't do it.
God does deliver, but not always. Hebrews 11 is adequate proof of this.
Sickness and sin are not the same.
God always forgives those who repent and believe in Christ as Savior. There are no exceptions. The greatest good is salvation from sin and Christ-likeness for the believer. All other "good" must give way to the greater good, and we've got to trust God to know how our suffering serves that "greater good."
We have every right to ask "why" when we suffer, but in doing so, let us remember that God's answer to the "why" of Jesus was that you and I could not be saved unless the Lamb of God was sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.
Thank God, Jesus answered the Father with the words, "Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done."
Let every believer who prays for deliverance say with Jesus, "NOT MINE, BUT THINE" for the sake of the "greater good!"