Why is this happening to me? Why do I feel this way? Why the anxiety? Why the pain? Why the stress? Why the sleeplessness that makes everything worse? Did I do something wrong? Am I being punished? Am I not cut out for this work?

Why is this happening to me?

I don’t know. Sure, I could talk about the problem of evil and try to explain why living in a fallen world as a fallen human being means that sometimes, I’m going to suffer the consequences of sinful brokenness, including with my health and sanity. But down here in the trenches, that doesn’t help very much. I’m not asking things like this happen. I’m asking why this is happening to me.

I know others have it worse. And in my more lucid moments, that brings some comfort. But not tonight. Not as a look at the clock and see that I haven’t been able to really sleep for nearly four hours and that in another four hours, I’m supposed to be waking up to go preach in the morning. Others may have it worse, but this is my particular burden to bear and I don’t like it.

It’s wearing me down. First the back problems. Then the heart problems. Then the panic attacks. And now whatever this is, whether a different manifestation of anxiety or stress or some yet discovered problem. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted. I’m tired of being exhausted. I’m weary and heavy laden, and I just want to rest.
I suppose this is part of the journey. I suppose that this is my small, Jacob-sized cross to bear right now. Taking that perspective helps sometimes. This too shall pass and when it does, I pray I will be more like my Lord. He too had sleepless nights too, you know.

I wonder if Jesus had anxiety and stress that kept him for resting. I suppose that Hebrews statement about Him being like us suggests that in some sense (Hebrews 4.15). The Gospels references to Jesus spending nights in prayer also seem like possible inferences as well (e.g., Luke 6.12). Those statements at least raise the possibility.

But it’s the Garden of Gethsemane that’s on my weary mind right now. Good Friday must have been the hardest day for anyone in the history of humanity—willingly taking on the universe’s sin and shame while restraining your phenomenal cosmic power. And yet, what does Scripture say? That Jesus didn’t sleep the night before (Matthew 26.36-46).

Here I am, stress upon stress, worried that I won’t be able to do my job tomorrow (well, later this morning) because I’m not well rested and won’t have enough sleep. And my King, the one I’m following and trying to be like, He took on all of my anxiety and stress and brokenness (to say nothing of everyone else’s) with no rest the night before.

If nothing else, this reminds me of a simple, yet crucial fact that I always seem to need reminding of when my life is not perfect: Jesus suffers with me. I’m not alone in this. My Lord walks this road with me. He might not always take my problems away. He might not always say yes to my prayers. But He’s here. And He will give me the grace to make it through and point others not towards myself, but to Him.

Maybe I do know why this is happening to me after all.

Composed around 2am on Sunday, May 23


Published by Jacob J. Prahlow

Husband of Hayley. Dad of Bree and Judah. Lead pastor at Arise Church. MATS from Saint Louis University, MA from Wake Forest University, BA from Valparaiso University. Theologian and writer here and at Conciliar Post. Find me on social at @pastorjakestl

2 thoughts on “Why?

  1. Thank you for penning your thoughts on this matter. Well said. Have you read Gentle and Lowly Dane Ortlund? It’s a great book for those who are suffering. I’ll be praying for you.

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