Why Did This Happen, God?

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

Has God ever hurt your feelings? I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ll read those verses from Philippians and think to myself: This is a tough pill to swallow.

Content in any and every situation?


When my middle daughter, Ashley, was younger, she was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful and captivating to watch.

Then one night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she’d ever competed in, she fell. It was a move she’d done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake destroyed her gymnastic dreams.

We spent a year going from doctor to doctor, only to be told she’d never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again. Watching a 14-year-old girl wrestle with the fact that her dreams were stripped from her doesn’t exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

It was so tempting to want to wallow in the “why” questions and tell God He’d hurt our feelings.

Why did this happen?

Why didn’t You stop this, God?

Why weren’t my prayers answered?

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn’t process why God would allow this to happen? Maybe it’s one of your young children having behavioral issues that seems crazy complicated and daunting. Or one of your older children having issues with addictions and devastating life choices. Or your husband being distant or possibly even destructive in making choices that are harming your marriage. Or another year of singleness that brings you wave after wave of grief, while watching others celebrating the gift of true love.

It’s so tempting to wallow in the “why.”

Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us further from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

If asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will?

The what question.

In other words: “Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?”

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

I like to call this verse, “Directions on Where to Park My Mind.”

And that’s exactly what Ashley had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I had to help her say:

This is my reality. Now what am I going to do with it?
What can I learn from this?
What part of this is for my protection?
What other opportunities could God be providing?
What maturity could God be building into me?

Switching from the why to the what questions paves the road to parking our minds in a much better place.

Is it always easy? No.

But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don’t understand and we absolutely don’t like?

Yes, it is, and I pray this helps you today. Because even if our circumstances aren’t good, we can trust God’s purpose always is.

Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it’s just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If disappointing circumstances have left your heart feeling empty and depleted, you can trade those feelings for a more personal fulfillment from knowing who Jesus is. That’s what my new Bible study, Finding I Am, is all about. You can pre-order your copy here and receive FREE resources you won’t be able to get once the study releases!

And today I’m giving away 5 copies of the Finding I Am study guide to randomly chosen commenters! Just leave a comment below for your chance to win.


  1. Kelly says

    Tears are streaming down my face…how perfect to come across this little devotional tonight. Times have been tough for a few years, but I keep thinking of Daniel and 10 years, as well as others. Thank you. I have to believe that it’s going to get better.

  2. Edith Fragner says

    Thank you for always sharing your heart so freely, Lysa. I could be your twin in so many ways and I am so grateful for your God given insights that bless me greatly. When I read your articles or books I feel less lonely, less of an outcast and so encouraged!
    Especially your book “uninvited” has spoken what was in my heart. Things I could not put into words as for years my voice grew more and more silent as my soul pain increased, The orphan heart in me is hard to convince and still I try to figure things out. Your questions are good. Yes, asking what is better than why!

  3. gagelene says

    I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have ask the why question in the wrong way. In the last 7 years I have lost 13 family members mother father grandmother mother in-laws grand daughter sister brother. And as each one cwent it got harder and harder not to be angry and eventually I lost my way. Today I woke up and decided I was going to find my way back because being angry is too hard exhausting. And when I asked the Lord where to start he guided me to email. Praise God he is good.

    • gagelene says

      and my husband just 6 months ago. One minute I was talking to him and the next he was gone. This one pretty much sent me over the edge.

  4. Angela S says

    Thank you, Lysa. Your words have a way of cutting straight to the core of everything I’ve ever felt. I’m working really hard on my relationship with God lately, but this message makes me think I probably should start looking for a professional to talk to.

  5. Veronica E says

    I’m very much in this situation right now. My husband is struggling with an addiction and it’s hard on our family. I keep praying about it daily..

  6. Sandy says

    Recently after 28 years of marriage to a Christian man (a leader within our church) found out my husband has been involved with website for spouses that cheat. I have always known my need for my Savior, but this book title … I am counting down the days to feed my soul with more of Him.

  7. says

    My recent “Why, God, why?” Was when He brought me to a place of complete and total aloneness. I had to move away from my adult children, family, friends, and church. But oh the riches He showed me dying that desert season. Such a great post with great practical advice. Thank you!

  8. says

    I seem to always be wrestling with my thoughts and trying to bring them captive to Christ and obedient to Him. Sometimes I ask the wrong question, Why do you, God, allow me to be so constantly harassed with thoughts about others actions, reactions, feelings etc to me? I can feel defeated by the constancy of this.
    After reading your blog I think I need to ask God what can I learn from this? How can I more readily and effectively put into practice Phil. 4:8? How can I follow the Spirit’s leading in this?

  9. Dawnielle says

    Excited for this study. Our Pastor has been preaching on Epoc and this morning it was Restoration and creating an atmosphere of good and finding I AM.

  10. Karen says

    I struggle with the why’s everyday. I find it, then I lose it..over and over.. I’m so blessed in many ways but have been single for more years than I care to count and really want to share my life with someone and even when I find “the one” it never works out. Need this right now, as they say.. “the struggle is real”

  11. says

    Thanks for these powerful words at this time. You know it’s hard enough to face the heartbreak of in fertility, but to finally get pregnant, then suffer the loss of a child twice in one year, and the last being right before Christmas, is so hard. My daughter is so distraught and questioning God. And as a mom, I have watched her struggle with her friends and families good intentions when they comment to her by saying “at least you don’t have….” which doesn’t help and she doubts her favor and Grace in God”s sight. My heart breaks for her as she faces this “reality” especially at Christmastime.
    This reminder of His sovereign Love and Mercy and redirection of “where do I go from here” and what do I do moving forward is the “hand up” I needed.

    Thanks, Lysa,

  12. Alicia Czuk says

    Well I have never done this before……. and hope I get the free book because I have a friend who just lost her 19 year old boy in a car accident. He was a Christian and had such a testimony. Please pray for that family. Their names are the Oaks family.
    I would like to help her through this book. I also have some tough questions myself………
    Even though I have no clue how to answer the tough questions in life, I love the Lord.
    This tragedy has a lot of people morning and asking questions including myself…….. We know God has a plan. Thy will be done.
    I am so thankful for your ministry and hope you have a good day. May the Lord Bless you and your family.

  13. Rebecca Fitzpatrick says

    Thank you for this encouragement. My mom passed away in August from cancer and I’ve struggled not wanting to ask the why questions. Changing my questions to what questions is so helpful. I know God is using this situation for good in so many different ways.

  14. sherri morris says

    I am right is such a situation of heartbreak, despair and wondering how this happened. I thank God for this day’s devotion. It is so on target to where I am know. I would love and so need this bible study book. I’m praying for continual peace, increased faith and trust and to look forward and keep my eyes on Him.

  15. Cheryl says

    Dear Lysa,
    I am in that tough place now. Feel like God is so far away. Would LOVE your new Bible Study. As I keep pressing toward healing. Have a Blessed Christmas.

  16. Belinda says

    I have definitely been there recently! After 26 years of marriage my husband decided he wanted a divorce. This came out of the blue for me. Then I find out that he has not been faithful to me for 15 years of our marriage. I was beyond shock or grief. I could not eat or sleep. I asked God why he allowed this to happen? What did I do that was so wrong? Why couldn’t he fix my marriage? It took me several months to realize that God was still in control. In that time I took a leave of absence from work to travel 1600 miles to be with my dad do that I could learn to cope and begin to move on.

  17. Kelly Keefer says

    I am excited to make some new friends in Christ to help me through a very tough season. This bible study gives me something to look forward to in 2017. Renew. Refresh. Revisit our relationship with Christ…and hopefully find new endearing friends along the way.

  18. Dani says

    Thank you for your inspiration and boldness. I am in a middle of a divorce and oh how it hurts. Please pray for me and my broken family.

  19. Morgan bueker says

    Can’t wait to get this! Been battling my depression for the first time in years this past couple of months and it always helps being guided through reading scripture.

  20. Aimee says

    I’ve just finished reading Uninvited and I love your writing style…it’s so relatable and uplifting. Looking forward to this study coming out 🙂

  21. Leslie says

    I am almost 50 years old and I feel somewhat guilty for still having these “why” questions. At times, I feel like, given my age, my life is over. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but I do. Sometimes I feel OK, but most of the time I don’t. Reading the “what” questions helped to see things from a different perspective. I hope that by reading your book(s) and continuing to study God’s word, I will move into a place of acceptance and peace regarding my circumstances once and for all.

  22. Julie says

    Thank you for reminding me to ask WHAT. I know God has plans for us that are too big for our minds to see. My faith has grown as my Mom is wasting away from early onset dementia. Soon she will be in His presence. One more day I keep praying WHAT and it helps. Please forward the book to another in need if my name is chosen. God bless all ! There is always light the dark place we may find ourselves in. !

  23. Lydia says

    I have my faith. It’s not gone. But, my life is a nightmare right now. I’ve been struggling with so much in my personal life. The greatest is losing ‘my one and only’ to suicide on the 2nd. My son was only 28.

  24. Hannah says

    Just started reading The best yes, so good for me! Would love love to do this Bible study. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

  25. says

    Hello Lisa! I love all of your posts and feel so loved after really letting them sink into my heart. I am losing my job at end of next week. I am 61 and this is first time it has ever happened to me. I have been blessed with great jobs. 18 years medical, 7 years optometry and this part time job is HVAC and I work with wonderful people. It has worked out great for me in all way…but now it is going to be over. Please pray for me. I am giving it to God. I want to stay home in a way…but want to be open to what God wants for me as well.
    God Bless you!
    Debi B.

  26. JulieAnne says

    Oh how this word spoke to me! & it was absolutely a confirming word!
    I feel so blessed to have come across your books and studies Lysa. Thank you for saying YES to God and for being so honest and transparent with your experiences.

    Looking forward to your new book and study coming out & can’t wait to jump into it!

    May the Lord continue to bless you in all you do!

  27. charlotte key says

    Just at the time I need this most in my life. After lingering health issues I guess I don’t understand why this is happening.

  28. Teresa Broderick says

    I am super excited about this new study & am praying for a free copy to support my dear sister in Christ, Monica as we do the 5 week study to become closer to our Lord & Savior, glory be to our Prince of Peace. In Jesus precious holy name, amen.

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