A fun thing about learning a new language is the richness that can come from that language’s more expansive or descriptive use of common words. For example, the English question, “Why?” is expressed in Spanish with two common phrases: “¿Por qué?” and “¿Para qué?”
The distinction between the two is that “¿Por qué?” looks to the past, asking, “What caused this to happen?” But “¿Para qué?” looks to the future, asking ,“For what purpose did this happen (or is this happening)? ”
Recently in our church small group meeting (by Zoom and in Spanish), one of the members shared a teaching entitled, ¿Para qué? He talked about how we in Ecuador are going through a hard time now with the pandemic. (In our group of ten or so families, two have lost immediate family members to COVID-19 and others have lost extended family members or close friends.)
In times of great suffering and pain, it’s natural to ask, “Why?” But he encouraged us to not get stuck on “¿Por qué?,” but instead ask “¿Para qué?” Focus on the future and on God’s purposes for the situation. We won’t understand everything, but we will be asking the right question.