Why Me?

Damon Runyon

When physical calamity befalls, the toughest thing for the victim to overcome is the feeling of resentment that it should have happened to him.

“Why me?” he keeps asking himself, dazedly. “Of all the millions of people around, why me?”

It becomes like a pulse beat―“Why me? Why me? Why me?”

Sometimes he reviews his whole life step by step to see if he can put his finger on some circumstance in which he may have been at such grievous fault as to merit disaster.

Did he commit some black sin somewhere back down the years? Did he betray the sacred trust of some fellow human being? Is he being punished for some special wrongdoing? “Why me?”

He wakes suddenly at night from a sound sleep to consciousness of his affliction and to the clock-like ticking in his brain―“Why me? Why me? Why me?”

He reflects, “Why not that stinker Smith? Why not that louse Jones? Why not that bum Brown? Why me? Why me? Why me?”

Was he guilty of carelessness or error in judgment? “Why me? Why? Why? Why?”

It is a question that has been asked by afflicted mortals through the ages. It is being asked more than ever just now as the maimed men come back from war broken in body and spirit and completely bewildered, asking “Why me?”

I do not have the answer, of course. Not for myself nor for anyone else. I, too, am just a poor mugg groping in the dark, though sometimes I think of the words of young Elihu reproving Job and his three pals: “Look into the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.”

The Book of Job may have been an attempt to solve the problem why the righteous suffer and to point out that such suffering is often permitted as a test of faith and a means of grace. They sure put old Job over the hurdles as an illustration.

He was a character who lived in the land of Uz, ’way back in the times recorded in the Old Testament. He had more money than most folks have hay and he was also of great piety. He stood good with the Lord, who took occasion to comment favorably on Job one day to Satan, who had appeared before Him.

“There is no one like Job,” remarked the Lord to Satan. “He is a perfect and upright man. He fears God and eschews evil.”

“Well, why not?” said Satan. “You have fixed him up so he is sitting pretty in every way. But you just let a spell of bad luck hit him and see what happens. He will curse you to your face.”

“You think so?” said the Lord. “All right, I will put all his belongings in your power to do with as you please. Only don’t touch Job himself.”

Not long afterwards, the Sabeans copped all of Job’s oxen and asses and killed his servants and his sheep were burned up and the Chaldeans grabbed his camels and slaughtered more of his servants and a big wind blew down a house and destroyed his sons.

But so far from getting sore at the Lord as Satan had figured would happen after these little incidents, Job rent his mantle and shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshipped and said:

“Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Now had I been Satan I would have given Job up then and there but lo, and behold, the next time the Lord held a meeting Satan again appeared and when the Lord started boosting Job for holding fast to his integrity, Satan sniffed disdainfully and said:

“Skin for skin, yea, all that a man has he will give for his life, but just you touch his bone and his flesh and see what your Mr. Job does.”

“All right,” the Lord said, “I will put him in your hands, only save his life.”

Then Satan smote poor Job with boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. I reckon that was the worst case of boils anyone ever heard of, and Job’s wife remarked:

“Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God, and die.”

“Woman,” Job said, “you are a fool. Shall we receive good at the hand of God and not evil?”

But when those pals of Job’s, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, came to see him he let out quite a beef to them and in fact cursed the day he was born. In the end, however, after listening to discourses from his pals of a length that must have made him as tired as the boils, Job humbly confessed that God is omnipotent and omnipresent and repented his former utterances and demeanor “in dust and ashes” and the Lord made him more prosperous than ever before.

“Why me?”

“—Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.