Why? Why? Why?


Guest post by James N. Watkins

If you have children,nieces and nephews, or younger siblings, you know that a three-year-old’s favorite word is why.

“Johnny, hold my hand while we cross the street.”


“Because I don’t want you to run out in front of a car.”


“Because if a car hits you, you’ll be hurt or killed.”


“Because if it’s a contest between a thirty-five-pound boy and a three-ton SUV, the truck is going to win every time.”


“Because the laws of physics state that mass plus momentum equals . . . Just take my hand!”

And on itgoes-right into adulthood!

“Why didn’t God heal my friend?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Why do I still have acne at 50?”

I’ve worked up way too much spiritual perspiration trying to answer why my second-grade Sunday school teacher committed suicide, why I was laid off from the perfect job in publishing—twice—or why bad things happen to such good people as you and me.

I have learned that while why is often a futile question, God is more than willing to answer other questions. But, like the popular game show, Jeopardy, the answers are in the form of a question.

What can I know?

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

So, while I’ve struggled with hundreds—probably thousands—of questions about God’s workings, I have grown in my knowledge of who he is. While agonizing about an estranged relationship, I burst into tears—for God. I had described to a friend my pain: “It feels like my heart has been cut out with a chainsaw, run over by a logging truck, and then fed through a wood chipper.” If I was feeling this excruciating pain for one broken relationship, how was God feeling about billions of heartaches? It was one of the few times I actually felt I understood God.

I can also find the answer to . . .

How can I grow?

I’ve always leaned into Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).

But what is that “purpose”? The very next verse answers: “To be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). So do other verses:

“And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18b).

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1).

That’s our purpose! So ask, how can I grow more like Christ through this difficult time.

Who can I show?

Second Corinthians 1:3-6 has become one of my favorite passages in encouraging me while I’m going through terrible times:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all ourtroubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer” (NLT).

The Greek word translated comfort isparaklesis. It is a calling near, summons for help; a prayer, a plea; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace, refreshment; or a persuasive speech, motivational talk, instruction. And it’s feminine case. No one comforts like a mother.

We offer our best comfort to those experiencing what we have personally gone through.

So, sorry, we can’t always answer the why questions, but we can answer these three.

Condensed from The Psalms of Asaph: Struggling with Unanswered Prayer, Unfulfilled Promises, and Unpunished Evil by James N. Watkins. Browse and buy at jameswatkins.com/asaph/

Hosting Ginger Murphy Solomon

Today is a very exciting day for me!

Today I am hosting my friend, and roomie from last year’s Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer Conference, Ginger Solomon. And it’s a big day for her, too: it’s her birthday! (Follow the links at the end of this post and wish her a special day!)

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest five, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for three blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, horses especially, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and loves to sing in the choir at church.

I asked Ginger five questions so you could get to know her:

When you feel discouraged what song, scripture, and friend do you turn to?

When I was young, I went through a lot of things that made me hesitant to rely on people. As my aunt recently told me, I used to keep too much to myself. Not much has changed. So, I don’t really have a friend that I turn to. When I’m discouraged I have a number of songs that I love that help me remember who my Best Friend is. Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace”, and Nichole Nordeman’s “Holy” are among the top. I heard a new-to-me song yesterday from Jesus Culture that made me want to close my eyes in worship, except I was driving at the time. I think “You Won’t Relent” is going to be a song I’ll listen to over and over.

I’ve learned that taking my eyes OFF my problems and putting them on the King of kings and Lord of lords reminds me that what’s happening around me or to me is temporary, but my worship is eternal. My Lord is greater than my problems or my disappointments.

Is there someplace you would love to visit and write about?

Scotland. I have already written two historicals set in castles in Scotland, but I’d LOVE to visit someday and see the places I’ve only dreamed about. When I was doing my genealogy I wanted to find some hint of Scottish in my ancestry, but alas there is none, so far. I am of Irish and English decent, maybe some Italian, but I can’t confirm that yet. Something about Scotland calls to my heart. I love Celtic music and jewelry designs. Those can come from Ireland, but the Emerald Isle does not call to me as much as the Highlands.

What drew you to romance out of all the genre you could pick from?

In real life, I’m practical. Instead of asking for jewelry or roses or candy, I request vacuums, or mattresses (which is what I got for my birthday this year). For Christmas I asked for and received a new food processor. I satisfy my less-than-dominant romantic side by writing about it, or reading it.

Since this is the season of romance, and you write in that genre, what is your best Valentine memory?

Well, I can’t remember any particular Valentine’s Day that stands out (remember, I’m practical), so instead I will tell you about the one time my husband brought me to tears with a single red rose. We were still newlyweds, living in an apartment. I was working full-time and my husband worked part-time and went to school full-time. I was probably pregnant (our first born was delivered one month before our first anniversary) and must have had a hard day at work. I really don’t remember. I think I was fixing dinner and a knock sounded on our apartment door. That in and of itself was unusual because the person would have had to have a key to get in through the locked exterior door. When I opened the door, thinking it was a neighbor, my dear husband was standing there with a single red rose (we couldn’t afford much). It was enough to make me start crying. I still get roses once in a while, just got some this past Valentine’s Day, but I remember that one rose with more fondness than any of the others.

Tell us five random things about yourself that might come up if we were sharing a cup of tea/coffee with each other.

I’ll have black tea, thank you, nothing fancy. I occasionally fancy a cup of Earl Grey. I’m not a coffee drinker, though when I was a child I used to eat sharp cheddar cheese that had been melted in a cup of coffee. Straight out of the cup. I’m not sure that would come up in conversation.

I love horses, always have. I find them to be majestic animals and enjoy watching them perform or simply run around a field. Shortly after we moved to Alabama my dream of owning my own horses came true. God fulfilled my dream even after I’d given up on it ever happening. I no longer own horses because that season has passed in my life, but I still love watching them.

I’d rather be outside reading or gardening than inside cleaning or cooking. When I was growing up I had the responsibility of cutting the grass, chopping wood for the woodstove, and cleaning out the chimney before we needed to use it for the season. I never wanted to learn to cook, sew, or any other domestic type stuff. My husband taught me to cook. I taught myself to sew, knit and crochet — though I have to admit I had a head start from watching my mom, at least on the sewing. She was a professional seamstress.

I’m a visual learner. Do not ask me to read a book to learn how to do something. Show me. Youtube is the greatest invention since the lightbulb, I think. At least for visual learners. Want to learn a crochet stitch – it’s on youtube. Change the door lock on your front loading washing machine — it’s on youtube. Don’t ask how I know that one – and yes, I changed it myself.

Partially because of my childhood and partially because of my temperament, I will NOT approach you unless I know you quite well. I am an introverted introvert. I’d rather sit and watch from the darkest corner than participate, but if you get me to talking/joking, I can keep up with the best of the extroverts. Just ask Tina.

When can we look forward to another book from you?

I have several manuscripts in various stages of progress. One is about ready to be sent to an agent who requested it, another needs a rewrite, and I have two that I’ve just started writing. When any of these will be ready for publication is only known by God at this time.

Here’s the official “blurb” about One Choice
Cahri Michaels is American by birth, but Belikarian by choice. Being selected to participate in the Bridal March forces her to give up the independent life she’s created for herself. She’s not ready to be anyone’s wife, much less to a man she doesn’t know.

Prince Josiah Vallis despises the centuries old tradition—the Bridal March—that is forcing him to choose a wife from fifty women. Why does it matter that he’s twenty-five and still single?

When Cahri and Josiah meet, sparks fly. Will it ignite a godly love that can see them through or will they be burned, never to be the same?

Here’s my review:
I couldn’t put this book down. The story and the passion were captivating. The passion was more than mere romance—there was a passion for life, for love, and for God.

Happily ever never had so many twists or so much pain. If the Bridal March were on TV it would be a reality show to rival The Bachelor and Secret Princes. The main difference is that the author has made sure that her characters, while obviously dealing with their flaws, fears, and baggage, are also seeking to be honest and compassionate.

The story is called “One Choice” but there are many choices made throughout, with love and forgiveness being the most difficult ones to make and keep.

I’m not sure if the moral of the story is to be careful who you bump into at the grocery, or that love and morality aren’t just for fairy tales. Either way, this is a delightful read and I look forward to reading more from this author.

When I asked Ginger if we could do this she graciously offered to share a devotional thought with us as well.

Faith Without Trust?

Dictionary.com defines faith as “confidence or trust in a person or thing.” But how can you have faith without trust?
I think we’ve all had trust issues at one time or another. At least I have. I’ve doubted people – their motives or their words. And I’ve doubted God. I’ve questioned His love for me. I’ve asked why so many times I can’t even count them.

One thing I have come to understand is that God has always been with me. Even in the darkest moments of my life, and there have been a few, He has been by my side. When I’ve turned away, He has been faithful and remained steadfast in His love for me. No matter how I “feel” or how things seem to be falling apart, God is there.

But even with that knowledge, I have doubts when I’m in the midst of a new trial. I try to place God in a box. The size of which is conceived from what I’ve been taught and the experiences I’ve had, but as Isaiah 55:8 reminds us, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.”

We are finite and He is infinite. He won’t fit in my box. Or your box. Ever. He will always be bigger and better than we can imagine.
Cahri, my heroine in One Choice, struggles with trusting God. In the beginning of the book, she wants nothing to do with God, though she continues to attend church so she can keep her job. She is angry and has lost her faith in Him. In her opinion, God no longer deserves her trust. BUT God (don’t you just love that phrase?), in His infinite grace, calls to Cahri even as she’s going through one of the hardest trials of her life. He speaks to her through art, creation, and through her memories. He won’t leave her alone. Toward the end of the book, Cahri finds herself in a situation that forces her to trust God. She has nothing left, but the small grain of faith that her parents planted in her as a child. A grain of faith that has grown because God is THERE. He is everywhere she looks, and she must acknowledge Him.

In the end, she must trust God because she, by herself, is helpless. She must trust Him with her very life.
But then, don’t we all do that every day? On some level, we trust God will continue to provide the air we need to breathe. We trust that the muscles and bones He created will provide movement and support. We trust that the cup we pour our drink of choice in to will hold said liquid. We trust that the laws of physics will remain in place, that the chair we sit in will hold us, that our cars will transport us to our destination.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6 NKJV)

I think many times we believe that God is, but we fail to believe that He rewards those that diligently seek Him. Okay, maybe you don’t, but I do. I know how bad I am, and how much I mess up (aka sin) daily. BUT God (there it is again) is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all of the bad stuff (1 John 1:9)

In my novel, God protects Cahri from herself, and from others. He is there for her, even when she doesn’t feel his presence. And, as in any novel I write, she has a happily-ever-after.

He’s there for you, too. Every day. And if you believe in Him, trust in Him, have faith in Him, you will have a happily-ever-after too.

Here are some other places where you can connect with Ginger–and I really encourage you to do so.

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