When God's Goodness Doesn't Feel so Good

Psalm 100:5 - “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

In 2010 my sister and her husband went through a miserable divorce. In 2016 my parents chose to leave the mission field (where they have been serving for 36 years and were only 3 years away from retirement) because my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s was getting much worse and she didn’t know who my mom, her own daughter, even was. Last week someone missed a deadline at work and had to leave work with an anxiety attack. She hasn’t been able to return yet due to stress and feelings of guilt and failure. Yesterday, a man’s wife died of cancer. Only Jesus knows if she was a believer.

It is often difficult to understand the goodness and love of God when our circumstances and situations scream something different. We want to believe it. We read it in Scripture, we know it’s true, but when we are faced time and again with situations that point to everything and anything other than goodness, we are often blinded to the truth.

My parents came to visit a few weeks ago. My mom and I had a conversation that has stuck with me. There are times in life when our circumstances don’t appear to line up with our theology of who God is. Everything around us tells us that God doesn’t care. He cannot be present and active when people are dying without knowledge of Him. There’s no way he is involved when Christian marriages are failing. How can he let these things happen? However, Scripture tells us time and again that God is not only present, but actively working in every situation. We read over and over again that God is good and loving.

My mom said these words, “When my situation seems bleak, I have to trust my theology of who I know God is. My circumstances don’t change who he is.”

Cancer is painful. There is no good in cancer. But God is still good.

Divorce tears families apart. Good is not associated with divorce. But God works all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.

Death is heartbreaking and brings people to their weakest point. But the name of the Lord is a strong tower.

Anxiety is crippling. It keeps us from living. But God is active and trustworthy at all times.

Whenever we sing songs in church on Sunday, my goal is to search my heart and make sure I am able to say each word truthfully. If I don’t feel at each moment that I believe the words I am singing, then I cannot sing them at that time. This past week we sang, “It Is Well”. There are many lines in this song that I hope you are able to believe and agree with. Look at these words carefully.

            Through it all my eyes are on you. Through it all it is well.

            So let go, my soul and trust in him, the waves and wind still know his name.

Are you able to say those words truthfully? When you are sitting at the bedside of a friend who is about to die of cancer, can you truthfully say your eyes are on Christ and it is well? Or does your soul hang on to what this world is trying to tell you, that there is no way God can be actively working and loving in the midst of all this pain?

Are you able to let go inside your soul, trusting in the God whose voice nature obeys?

When the world around you points to everything other than the goodness of God, where do you turn? What do you hold on to in the midst of pain, struggle and heartbreak?

My prayer is that you will return to Scripture where God’s goodness is revealed over and over again. Many influential and heroic Biblical characters struggled with difficult situations. Abraham’s wife was barren, but God provided Isaac in their old age. Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his only son, but God provided a lamb at the last second. Moses had an entire community of Israelites trusting and following him as they were being chased towards the Red Sea and God provided dry ground for them to cross. The Israelites were stranded in the desert for years without the chance of gardens, grape vines or food, but God sent manna from heaven to provide for their needs. These and many others are listed in Hebrews chapter 11 as heroes of faith. Their circumstances and situations seemed bleak. From the eyes of the world, life was failing all around them, yet their faith and knowledge of who God is (and what He is able to do) kept them faithful.

God’s goodness is throughout Scripture. All you need to do is open your Bible to find it. We can trust the goodness of God because we have read it, seen it and experienced it in our own lives.

In Joshua chapter 4, Joshua commands the people of Israel to set up stones of remembrance to serve as a sign to remember how God had helped them cross the Jordan River. When God comes through and does something big in your life, what do you do to remember the situation and not forget his goodness? I encourage you to write these things down. God is present and active. Always. During our difficult days and situations we do not always see and remember this truth. Wouldn’t it be encouraging to have something to go back to and look at (or read) to remind yourself of the things God has done in your life? Reading Scripture helps us to see how God moves and works, but looking at your own life and being reminded of how God has personally worked and moved can be a way to bring you through those difficult times. Revelation 12:11 says, “And [God’s people] have conquered [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”

God is good, all the time. Trust what you have learned about him to be true even when your situation seems contrary.

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