What may seem an innocuous question to most, and likely irrelevant to those who do not believe in a sovereign God, was one that plagued me quite early on in my chronic illness.
To me there is no randomness in the universe, but rather a closely guided plan that is the divine will of God. While this faith is complete, and without question in my soul, it created an internal turmoil from many unanswered questions due to my recent pain and illness.
Having accepted that my illness was not just some random fluke of a fallen world, or from a disinterested God, I was forced to acknowledge that God had actually allowed me to go through years of pain, disability, frustration, and even doubt in Him.
In the process of coming to terms with my chronic illness, it became very important for me to know if God was actually afflicting me as a punishment, or allowing the affliction as a form of lesson.
Perhaps this is, as I said earlier, a trivial thing to most, but I doubt that there is anyone suffering from chronic pain and illness who has not asked "Why me?"
I started by trying to figure out what great sin I had committed that would cause God to be angry enough to strike me down with this illness. In hindsight, I admit that this was a futile effort, because there were so many wrongs I had committed in my past.
From my youth to my salvation at age 33, there wasn't one of God's commandments that was left standing in my life, and I was further pained to admit that my record as a Christian had not been much better. If I was to accept the salvation from Jesus Christ as a real event in my life, then I also had to assume that my true repentance for each of these new sins came with the same forgiveness as those that fell before my salvation.
This left me with the struggle of what lesson was I to learn from this illness. Was God honing me with fire? Was he trying to purge my own self-reliance? Was he trying to humble me?