Participants: J. D. Quinn (Host), Troy Fitzgerald
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000406
00:01 Do you ever wonder why God rarely
00:03 answers the question "why?"
00:04 Stay tuned, we'll be right back.
00:31 As we mentioned a while ago,
00:33 we're gonna be answering the question,
00:34 why God rarely answers "why?"
00:37 Today, we have as our guest,
00:39 Pastor Troy Fitzgerald, welcome.
00:43 Thank you, good to be here.
00:44 Tell us a little bit about yourself Troy.
00:46 Well, I'm a pastor
00:48 at the Walla Walla University Church.
00:50 My responsibilities mainly working with young people
00:55 and the young adult crowd, the college students. Amen.
00:58 So I live there only 12 years now.
01:04 Married. Yes, I am married.
01:05 Julia, my wife and I got two boys Cameron and Morgan.
01:10 They're the joy of my life.
01:11 Amen, young, old. Well, I am old, yeah.
01:15 Thank you for noticing
01:16 but no they are 12 years old and 7.
01:21 So Cameron is 12 and Morgan is 7.
01:23 My wife is always young and I'm getting,
01:26 I'm getting wiser right here.
01:28 That's, that's another way of saying it.
01:29 You look mighty good, thank you, yeah.
01:31 You got a nice tan and I understand
01:33 that you have just come back from some place.
01:35 Just working with some student
01:37 missionaries in Hawaii, so that's great, yeah.
01:39 That's been nice. Amen.
01:41 Somebody has to go.
01:42 That's exactly right. I said here am I, send me.
01:44 Amen, amen, tell me about your education Troy.
01:48 Well, I went to college studied Theology
01:55 went into pastoral ministry
01:57 and then I got a Masters in Education
01:59 because I wanted to learn about the art of teaching.
02:03 Figured that pastors really spend a lot of time teaching
02:07 in their work and their field and I just didn't know much
02:11 about the whole art of learning
02:13 and so I did a Master's degree
02:14 then I finally did my Ph.D. in Leadership.
02:17 In Leadership. Yeah.
02:19 And as we know today, Leadership is so important.
02:21 You can have all the education you want,
02:23 you can know the Bible but you need to be have
02:26 that leadership in order to lead.
02:28 A world needs people to just engage others
02:34 in being an influence on the world around them
02:37 and I think that just takes a certain mindset to faster,
02:40 but we all have that capacity and everyone of us
02:43 we have leadership qualities
02:45 but to study with that might look like in the life
02:47 of local churches what I was really passionate about.
02:50 Amen, yeah, and I know that
02:52 you've authored five or six books.
02:54 Yeah, a few of them.
02:55 Amen, and I know that the latest one,
02:57 one that I found quite fascinating
03:00 is 20 Questions God Wants to Ask You,
03:03 Life-Changing Encounters with the Divine.
03:05 Yes, that was a struggle for me
03:08 because that's what I ended up doing.
03:11 I ended up taking all of my questions,
03:14 the unanswered things as I looked at my world,
03:18 there was so much I didn't know and I thought,
03:21 you know, why isn't God responding to me,
03:22 why doesn't He help me solve this problem,
03:25 why doesn't He answer this question?
03:26 And as I went to scripture I just bounced into people
03:31 who--they might have had similar questions for God.
03:35 But God would return with a question for them.
03:40 And the question often times redirected their life.
03:43 If they answered the question
03:44 it changed their life in one way or another.
03:48 So as I went through scripture
03:50 I looked at all these encounters
03:51 with God and people.
03:53 For me that just seems to be the most important moment
03:57 in history is when God comes face to face with people.
04:01 Either in person or through His word
04:04 and I believe that today.
04:05 In fact the greatest symbol of that is Calvary
04:08 where He comes in more contact with us
04:10 than at any other time.
04:12 He grabs on to us and He secures us for eternity
04:15 and so there are these moments
04:16 where we have this contact with God.
04:19 And in scripture He speaks and that's what I love
04:21 most as He asks a question and when God asks a question,
04:25 you get a window into his heart
04:27 and perhaps even a doorway into his will for our lives.
04:32 So I just scan through his scripture
04:33 and found all the places and I picked 20 of them
04:36 because of the whole 20 questions idea, yeah.
04:39 And I chose 20 that were
04:41 significantly meaningful for me.
04:44 Well I know that I've read part of this book
04:46 and I mean, I just really I'm really enjoying it.
04:48 Praise God, I can't wait till we get past this
04:50 and I'm going to finish reading it again.
04:52 Now I do know that there is one question
04:55 that people tend to ask more than the others?
04:57 What would that question be?
05:00 Well, people want to know why?
05:03 Why? Why God, why did this happen?
05:07 Why does this always happen to me?
05:10 Why me and not them or why them and not me?
05:15 Talking to a lady the other day who lost her daughter
05:18 and her grand daughter to cancer, why them?
05:22 I'm 83 years old, why them and not me?
05:25 So basically what people are looking for
05:28 some sort of explanation to a problem or tragedy
05:33 that they face in the world.
05:35 And that--and that becomes problematic in itself,
05:39 just the whole idea of looking for an explanation.
05:43 I guess biblically speaking
05:44 Job was quite an example, was he not?
05:47 Yeah, I think that Job and that was one of the people
05:50 that I focused on in this book.
05:53 But Job was clearly an example of someone
05:57 who I'm sure had his questions why?
06:00 He even came up with his own explanations
06:02 but that's the problem.
06:04 We as humans want an explanation.
06:08 We want somebody to color in the context
06:10 as to why these things happen
06:12 because in our minds there are two things going on.
06:15 The first thing that's going on is that we believe
06:18 that what's happening to us isn't right?
06:22 It isn't fair, it isn't just. And it's certainly isn't good.
06:27 So part of us inside just we know that there should be
06:31 a good, there should be a justice,
06:33 there should a right way and this comes headlong into
06:38 and that's where we get the whole notion of grief
06:41 and sadness and disappointment
06:43 is because what we thought should be doesn't happen
06:47 and yet we also live in a sinful world
06:51 and we know that things go wrong
06:53 and things are broken and bad things do happen.
06:57 And we are a part of that.
06:58 We are not outside of that.
07:00 And that was Job's problem.
07:01 He's sitting there and just living his life
07:05 on earth and, you know,
07:08 and God draws attention to him, it says.
07:12 You want that kind of-- I know you don't want
07:14 that kind of attention but God initiates this story,
07:19 He is up in heaven and Satan comes walking to
07:23 and from as the Chapter 2 says and God says,
07:28 "Have you considered my servant Job?"
07:32 I'm sure Job, if he knew what was going on,
07:35 would've been hiding and shushing God saying,
07:38 no, no, don't draw attention to me.
07:41 I don't want that.
07:44 And he becomes the story of sadness
07:48 and disappointment, injustice.
07:51 And yet through it all he tries to explain
07:54 to his friends that God has every right to do this.
07:58 That God is able. That God is working.
08:00 That I must have done something wrong.
08:03 Let's not point our finger at God
08:04 and even puts his flag in the sand and says,
08:07 even though He slay me, I will trust in Him, amen.
08:12 So Job struggles with it though.
08:13 I think he gets to the end of his rope
08:15 and he has to shake his fist
08:17 and have in a little bit and see.
08:19 What is going on, which is the question
08:23 that I think many of us ask.
08:25 I've asked that, I mean, I've lost,
08:29 yeah I have lost probably 10, 12 kids in my church
08:33 in my community of faith in the last 10, 12 years.
08:36 It seems like every year we have a tragedy
08:39 that hits some of our young people.
08:43 And I go up to the cemetery
08:44 and there are these gravestones of kids,
08:47 teenagers, children who are four years old.
08:50 Twelve-year-old boy we lost in a house fire.
08:54 Young girl we lost to leukemia,
08:57 you know, accidents, car accidents, we lost some
09:02 kids in a drowning accident, heart failure.
09:06 All these things, you know,
09:07 it just makes your soul cry out.
09:10 Why, what is going on God?
09:12 Why, why is this happening?
09:15 And the truth is we don't really
09:18 hear very many answers from God.
09:23 We don't ever hear God explain
09:26 what's wrong or what happened
09:27 or explain his actions or more importantly his inaction.
09:32 Remember in the ICU units in one case, 16-year-old girl
09:38 who is being held together on life support
09:42 and as I was standing there one of the grand parents
09:46 were struggling with all of this,
09:49 so it just looked wrong, 16-year-old girl
09:52 having to be kept alive by electronic systems.
09:57 And she said to me, she says boy,
10:00 God has a lot of explaining to do.
10:03 He's gonna have to answer some questions about this one.
10:07 And I felt just--yeah, I resonated with her.
10:10 Oh, my God, I really did want
10:12 God to say something or respond
10:15 even if you're just gonna paint the picture
10:17 of hope for us again and again and again,
10:19 that's fine but sometimes it's just silent.
10:24 And I think that's what Job had for a while.
10:27 So he had the silence of God.
10:28 And then as he questions God
10:30 and pushes him God--God comes to him with an answer
10:35 but that answer comes in the form of questions.
10:38 I looked at these questions and they're stunning.
10:41 God doesn't explain anything to Job.
10:45 He levels Job with two, three four chapters of questions
10:50 and I mean they're profound.
10:54 Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations?
10:57 Tell me, if you understand.
10:59 Who marked of its dimensions? Surely you know Job!
11:02 Who stretched a measuring line across it?
11:05 On what were its footings set?
11:07 It just keeps going over and over with these questions
11:10 about how it all began.
11:12 Who shut up the sea behind doors Job
11:14 when it burst forth from the womb, did you do that?
11:17 Have you ever given orders to the morning, Job?
11:20 That must have been amazing
11:22 and I'm paraphrasing a little bit.
11:24 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal,
11:26 its features stand out like those of a garment,
11:28 you had something to do with that I am sure Job, right?
11:31 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
11:34 Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?
11:37 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
11:40 Tell me, he says this tell me if you know all this.
11:45 Where Job is the abode of light?
11:48 And you can just see Job
11:49 getting pummeled with these questions.
11:52 His question is, "why is all of this happening to me?"
11:56 Then God says where you there
11:59 when I started this whole thing, tell me?
12:02 And all of these questions
12:03 and it literally goes on chapter after chapter.
12:07 Job stops and he says, I get it God,
12:09 I get it, you know everything, you're big.
12:13 God says, brace yourself again
12:15 because evidently I'm not big enough for you.
12:18 I need to be bigger and that is the point,
12:20 God is not being mean, he is not been arbitrary.
12:24 He is trying to get Job to see how big he really is,
12:30 to the point where Job will lest it, amen.
12:34 And that's the point
12:35 that he is making with all these questions.
12:37 So it is not just one question
12:39 that God asked but many.
12:40 But the question is, "Job,
12:43 have you considered how big I am?"
12:48 That question is hard to answer in the ICU unit,
12:54 it is hard to answer by the graveside, but it's possible.
12:58 And that is the message we have from God's word
13:01 and that's the question we have from God
13:03 and it just pulls us towards him asking us,
13:08 do you really know who I am?
13:10 So the why question get switched--
13:14 Yeah, I can see that.
13:15 No longer a question of why, but who?
13:20 Who is this God? Who am I to you?
13:25 Because may be if we can answer
13:26 that question it will make all the difference.
13:28 Well, I don't know if you've ever had
13:30 to try and explain things--
13:31 Oh, most certainly.
13:33 We deal with it daily or we attempt to deal with it daily.
13:37 And they're so many times whenever
13:38 we don't have the words
13:39 that we just stop in the middle of a sentence
13:41 and just say, let's invite the Holy Spirit and may be,
13:45 you know, we can claim
13:48 that information is coming from the most high.
13:51 And I don't know what is about the human mind,
13:53 but God made us this way, so I'm not gonna
13:55 apologize for it but we want to know.
13:58 We want explanations and the problem is that
14:02 we see so--we see with such a small perspective,
14:07 we see through a peephole this great grand thing
14:11 called life on earth
14:12 and it's not enough to know everything.
14:16 In fact, if God tried to explain to me
14:18 all the things that are going on,
14:19 I wouldn't have the tools to understand them,
14:22 but what is it in the heart of a human that just cries out
14:26 with loss that's, what we go through.
14:30 We want someone to say
14:31 something about what is happening.
14:34 And that's why we look to God for
14:36 but in this case he turns it back on us and says, okay
14:40 Oh, we certainly do know
14:41 that his ways are harder than our ways
14:43 and, you know, so about faith
14:45 we have to just have an understanding
14:47 of his mercy and his grief.
14:50 And having that understanding just as you said,
14:53 having an understanding with that also means
14:56 having an experience with it.
14:58 I have to learn that I can trust.
15:01 I mean, I learned a lot about hanging
15:05 on during these moments because I think
15:07 that is probably what we need to do
15:09 the most is learn to hang on to God.
15:13 Asaph in the 73rd song describes a crisis
15:18 that we went through a faith crisis
15:20 where he said all the right things.
15:22 He said surely God is good to the upright,
15:24 and he is right by their side.
15:27 He says I used to think that but now I don't anymore
15:31 because look at the wealthy, the corrupt,
15:34 and all the people out there that use
15:37 there greatness for their own gain.
15:39 They're stepping on God's people.
15:42 And he goes and he just describes the horror that,
15:47 they're evil people out there that are--
15:50 that are just growing and they're wealthy.
15:55 And I have got a lot of friends
15:56 who are graced, oriented, blessed people,
16:00 God trust them with the resources,
16:01 that is not who, that is not who Asaph is talking about.
16:05 He is talking about people
16:06 who use their wealth for corruption.
16:10 He says and they just get wealthier and wealthier,
16:12 while we just get poorer and poorer,
16:13 so there's something wrong with that
16:16 and then the beautiful message in the middle
16:18 of all that is somehow he steps into the sanctuary
16:22 and he goes in and he gets a glimpse of God
16:25 and he gets an experience and he says I learned,
16:29 I learned that I can trust you.
16:31 I learned that your ways are high,
16:33 I learned that this can work.
16:35 And God turns it all around for him
16:37 but there is this moment where he goes through crisis.
16:40 I believe there are a lot of people out there
16:42 that endure that and they struggle but it is a journey.
16:47 It's a journey that, you know, many of us,
16:49 as we walk this road home,
16:51 we're gonna to have to learn
16:53 to understand who God is in that.
16:56 One thing gives me comfort is that I understand
16:58 that he has my eternal benefit in mind at all times
17:02 and because his ways are hard there're so many things
17:05 I don't understand but if I can just hold on
17:07 to that fact, you know, that I know that you love me
17:12 so much that you want me to spend eternity with you.
17:15 You want me to fulfill my destiny, my true destiny
17:20 and that is just--that is to be with you forever.
17:22 That's right and that question,
17:25 is there enough to stand on? That's the crucial one.
17:29 You bet, Nathan, he was a young person in my church
17:33 who is in my Youth Sabbath School.
17:34 I remember it was about two to three months
17:37 before he died in a car accident,
17:42 we were talking about sadness
17:43 and how do we hang on to God during the tough times.
17:46 I was going through it kind of in a superficial way.
17:49 I had no clue what the future events would be.
17:51 But Nathan came up probably with one of the best
17:54 illustrations that I've ever heard about people
17:58 who are struggling to hang on.
18:00 He says do you know--he said you ever--you ever go
18:03 to the rock climbing wall where these young people
18:06 strap on the belts and they learn
18:08 to climb on a flat wall.
18:09 They have these rock ledges,
18:12 these little bumps on the wall that they climb up
18:15 and scurry up and come down,
18:17 and some of the holes are very large, they're big,
18:21 stick both feet on, on those and it is very comfortable
18:25 on the side of that wall as comfortable
18:26 as you can be I suppose.
18:28 He says and then there are these,
18:30 just these little bumps these nub that stick out
18:33 just barely enough for you to get
18:36 the edge of your foot on it and I'm waiting for the--
18:41 waiting for the application and he says sometimes in life
18:44 we have this big large blocks that we can stand on
18:47 and we know that God is there.
18:49 And God will bring us truly
18:51 and we know the hope that we have.
18:53 And then Nathan said but sometimes
18:55 all we have is a nub where all the things
18:57 that we have learned in our grief just kind of fall away,
19:01 but we have enough. We know Christ,
19:02 we know what he said is true and that he is coming home
19:06 and sometimes just that little nub of hope is enough
19:10 to put the full force of your weight on. And he said--
19:15 It is fantastic. Certain that is how--
19:17 and you know what I just think of that lesson
19:22 that he shared with me and then it's true
19:25 sometimes that's what we have.
19:26 We hang on to that one verse or that one song
19:31 and its that one story from scripture--
19:33 I was talking to a woman the other day
19:35 and she says there is just one passage I hang on to
19:39 and it just happens to be another one of the questions
19:41 that God asked, it is that that passage
19:43 about being the resurrection and the life,
19:44 Mary and Martha since I always read that story
19:47 when I think about the husband that I've lost,
19:49 I loved him. We were married for 60 years.
19:54 My heart is going out to her, she says,
19:56 and I don't know if I'm Mary or Martha
19:58 but I knew I was mad.
19:59 And I knew I had questions for God but then he comes
20:02 and he asked that question,
20:03 I'm the resurrection in your life.
20:06 You will live again if you believe in me
20:08 and Jesus says, "Do you believe this?"
20:14 And she says, "Everyday,
20:15 I answer that question, yes Lord, I believe."Amen.
20:21 So all she has is that little nub
20:23 but she's putting the full force of her weight on it.
20:26 So how would you explain the issue of sin
20:28 and tragedy versus God is good.
20:32 You know, well that's the problem is that,
20:34 I think sometimes our quick reactions,
20:37 we try to explain a way because we think somehow
20:40 if we cognitively answer this question
20:43 that somehow people who are grieving will feel better.
20:46 And that's just not the case, but some of the answers like,
20:51 well, we live in a sinful world
20:52 or that's not God doing that, that's Satan or--
20:56 you know, even worse that's God's will.
21:00 All of these answers just they don't help.
21:04 I was trying to describe this to,
21:06 to somebody the other day who was trying to blame Satan
21:11 for everything that's gone wrong in this world.
21:15 And it is true, Satan is the one who brought sin,
21:19 but the problem is that God let Satan do it
21:23 and we can't let God off the hook.
21:26 Let me give you an example,
21:27 if you have a--if you have a playground in a schoolyard
21:32 and there is a 13-year-old boy just beating up
21:35 on a kindergartener, you know, 5-year-old,
21:38 whose fault is that? Well, of course,
21:42 it's, it's the 13-year-old's fault.
21:44 He is inflicting the pain, right?
21:46 But what changes if you put the principal
21:48 in the yard standing right next to them?
21:52 Who's responsible now?
21:56 Well, it's still the 13-year-old
21:58 inflicting the pain but the principal
22:02 is allowing it to happen when he could stop it.
22:05 And see that's where this part gets difficult
22:08 for humanity is if we believe everything
22:11 we believe is true about God, that He's powerful
22:13 and He's loving that He is good
22:17 and He has done things in the past.
22:20 And He's choosing not to right now.
22:23 What gives? What's going on?
22:26 Somebody needs to explain that to me.
22:29 But my response to that is--is that,
22:32 it's the beauty of that analogy is that God
22:36 is big enough to take responsibility for everything
22:41 that has happened on earth.
22:42 Is He, is He the one that started sin, no way.
22:46 It's not in His character. Amen.
22:49 But it is in his character to let us chose.
22:52 And the bottom line is this even though we chose it,
22:56 Adam and Eve, even though Lucifer brought it,
22:58 God wraps his arms, his big, wide graceful arms
23:04 around the whole problem and says, "I will solve it.
23:09 You're not gonna like everything that I do.
23:11 You're not gonna understand every angle I come from.
23:15 You're not gonna appreciate my timing all the time
23:19 but I will solve it. I will answer.
23:22 And I will bring you home and when you get there,
23:25 you'll look back and you'll smile,
23:27 knowing I did this thing perfectly.
23:29 " I think that's what's going on in our minds
23:33 and I hope that, that might help some people,
23:37 respond to this God, we don't want
23:39 to set him outside of the problem.
23:42 We want to enable God in our minds
23:44 to be the solution to it.
23:47 That's why He did a Calvary, He solved it for us.
23:49 Amen. You know, and I bring this up,
23:51 why in the world do we want to concentrate on problems,
23:54 when we can concentrate on the problem solver.
23:56 Beautiful. That's exactly it.
23:59 And that's why we switch
24:01 from the explanation, to the personification.
24:05 That's why we go from wanting an answer
24:08 to the one who is the answer.
24:10 He is--I am the resurrection and the life.
24:15 And it's like that little story,
24:17 that quick story that comes about,
24:18 where the father's traveling with the son in the car
24:22 and a bee comes in the window and it's buzzing around
24:25 the little child, the child is deathly allergic
24:27 to the bee sting and so he cries out
24:29 to his father, help me, help me.
24:30 Father grabs the bee in his hand
24:32 but only seconds later lets it go
24:34 and the bee starts buzzing around again
24:36 and child cries out, why, why did you let it go?
24:38 It's gonna sting me and he holds out the palm of his hand
24:41 and there's a, a swelling in the middle of his palm,
24:43 he says that, "Bee can't hurt you anymore."
24:46 And that's the truth for us.
24:47 It's that there's nothing
24:48 that can separate us from God now.
24:51 His plan is perfect. He will bring us home
24:54 and in the meantime we have to let him
24:56 like Job be big enough, large enough,
25:00 responsible enough to seal this up for us
25:05 and, you know, as I look at those questions
25:08 and I'll continue to ask them because I think God is okay
25:12 with me coming to Him
25:13 and saying look I don't understand this.
25:15 Amen. I don't understand why
25:18 the Lord helped me put the pieces together.
25:20 His answer to that is, is not well, here's what I did then,
25:25 and here's what I did then,
25:26 and this is what's going on, you can't see that.
25:28 His answer is no, get to know me.
25:30 Look at me, I'm the answer.
25:32 Focus on my character.
25:34 What I've said to you in the past.
25:36 Don't let what you don't know confuse you about
25:39 what you do know about me, We are going home.
25:42 Amen. And this will be just a glimpse.
25:46 And that's why, you know,
25:47 why knowing why is so important.
25:50 And we gain that through the relationship
25:53 through asking Him questions
25:56 and I, I totally agree with you.
25:57 There's nothing wrong with asking questions.
26:00 Father I'm in a crossroads here--. Yeah.
26:01 What do I need to do?
26:03 And then as you have so wonderfully done
26:07 we go from the why to the rock.
26:11 Yeah. To who?
26:13 And that's how Job finishes.
26:15 If you read that last Chapter Job comes to the place
26:18 where he says, "I shook my fist at you since I asked
26:26 and You answered, I asked again,
26:29 and you asked me a bunch of questions,
26:31 and I really don't have an answer for all of them.q
26:36 " He says, "I used to know who you are
26:38 because I heard about you, heard about you
26:44 but now, I've seen you, I've seen you,
26:49 I've experienced you, and everything."
26:53 Has his family been restored yet? No.
26:56 Has he been given the gift of a new life?
26:59 Has he been healed? No.
27:01 there in the depth of his tragedy,
27:04 it says, "I see you."
27:08 And it's more than enough.
27:10 It's more than enough that you are my God.
27:13 Again going back to what you initially said.
27:15 "Even though you slay me, I will trust you."
27:18 Is God big enough? Is God good enough?
27:21 Is God that responsible for us that we can answer
27:25 and say, Lord, you're God. Amen
27:29 I'd like to say that is the challenge
27:31 for everyone of us, you know.
27:36 This has been a-- this is a wonderful topic,
27:39 you know, why? And I do agree with you
27:43 that He just wants us to ask why
27:45 and He respects us we're His children.
27:47 Anyway we are running out of time. Yeah.
27:50 Just once again, I just wanna thank you
27:53 for being here, you know, you're just--I can
27:56 just see Christ written all over you, so--
27:59 Praise God, praise God.
28:00 you're a wonderful servants of His.
28:01 Just want to thank you each one of you
28:02 for being with us today at Issues and Answers.
28:05 Being with us at 3ABN. We love you.
28:08 May God richly bless you.