Is God really good?

Yesterday I received a message from a dear friend, someone I greatly respect. She’s actually one of the contributors for stories on the new book I’m writing. She knows me well enough to be point blank honest. I do love her.

She asked me, “Are you really OK, are you really able to believe that God is good even in the midst of so much sorrow and so many trials that you have walked through these past few years?”

It wasn’t a questioning of my motives, heart or commitment, it was more an attempt from another wearied and wounded heart to believe that God is, indeed good when so much bad is closing in.

And unless you’ve been there…you won’t understand.

1380708_10201627797912688_1555398200_n

Unless you’ve looked around and seen a barren wasteland…you might be tempted to think that doubt and questions and even anger is because of a lack of faith. Maybe you have a tidy, wrapped-up-with-a-bow, nothing but fluffy cloud life…then you aren’t going to understand.

But the deeper I walk with those who are suffering, the more I come to see –

it’s normal. It’s growth. It’s OK.

I couldn’t wait to shoot back a message to my beautiful friend.

“Absolutely not.”

“I’ve doubted and been so angry God as I am writing about trusting Him.”

“I’ve wept and cried out til I was hoarse…almost afraid to hope anymore, almost afraid to pray anymore.”

I’ve been knee deep in teaching a study, or writing one while my soul is in an immense struggle to really apply what I’m saying and what I’m writing. I get opportunities to be reminded all of the time about God’s faithfulness, who He truly is and who we are in Him…I’m dosing someone ELSE with it all the time. And all the while, God is speaking to my heart…,”Are you listening to your own words, do you really believe in MY WORDS?” I tell myself yes. I tell Him yes. But if you were to watch me in those private moments where I am pouring all that I am before the throne of God…you’d wonder if I really did believe it. I’ve cried out when there were no words left. I didn’t have it in me. I didn’t even know HOW to pray. I had to say to the Holy Spirit – groan for me.

And you know what. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

I think when we read the words of King David in the Psalms we are witnessing not only his own, intensive struggle within is soul…we are witnessing the struggle of mankind to reconcile the truth that God is still good even when no good can be found.

I also believe that this is exactly why we feel as if the church has failed us sometimes. The church is people – just like me and you – it doesn’t matter their title or how many degrees they have in Biblical Theology…they sin, they suffer, they are desperate for a Savior. And sometimes, they are so wounded and so weary they find their self as a heap on the floor – crying out without answers, begging for relief that doesn’t come and trying to grasp for something that tangibly tells them that God is still in the midst of their hard place. When they question – they can be meet with shock and a push-back with even more questions, “How can you feel this way, where is your faith!?”

Let me speak from experience…that doesn’t help any.

It actually makes you learn to keep your mouth shut, your emotions packed down and the truth about how you really are doing – buried as deep as you can bury anything. So then what we have is a bunch of locked-up, fearful, paralyzed and shamed sheep. No wonder Biblical counseling cannot keep up with the demands of those seeking counsel.

I’ll tell you how I can feel this way.

Because life is hard. Life is really, really hard sometimes.

We aren’t to be lead by our emotions. But we are humans made with emotions and therefore, we hurt and we grieve. We aren’t meant to be super-human or some super-spiritual-super-beings with powers that can defy even the toughest circumstance. If that was the case then we wouldn’t see John and Paul and David suffer and SPEAK OF THEIR SUFFERING as they do in God’s Word.

We wouldn’t see the Son of God weeping, anguishing in the Garden before He gave himself as the Lamb to be slain.

We wouldn’t read of God’s grieving as His Word tells us that He does.

So why in the world do we think we should pretend that everything is OK, that we don’t question, that there aren’t times when my faith is so shaken that I must resemble a non-believer? Why is it we are afraid to be honest – even those in the pulpit, on the radio, writing books and blogs and teaching Sunday School or on the mission field? Why have we grown so used to pleasing man, ticking his ears that we no longer talk about how we can struggle in our faith?

The most loving thing someone can do for me is to pry deeply (someone I trust, not just anyone) and ask me hard questions like my beautiful friend did.

The most loving thing someone can do for another is to say that doubting, questioning, being angry and frustrated is OK, normal and a time of growth.

The Gospel is beautiful and it is sorrow-filled and messy and painful and God’s Word is full of the horrors of life and adultery, murder, incest, babies being slaughtered, cruel husbands and unfaithful wives. It is a book of humanity – and humanity has suffered intensely by its own blood-stained hand and by the presence of sin in a fallen world. Let me tell you the world that Christ was born into was a bleak one…people were desperate and oppressed and so very, very weary and wounded…

much like today.

So if God can handle my questions, my doubt, my anger, my soul-splitting anguish and loss…then why should any man question my sorrow?

Yes. I’ve doubted God’s love.

Yes. I’ve questioned His love for me, personally.

Yes. I’ve hovered over the dark pit of despair.

Yes. God still loved me through every ounce of it.

Yes. He really doesn’t leave nor forsake as promises in the book of Hebrews.

Yes. I’m certain that I will have a time of intense struggle again and I’m absolutely certain that more sorrow and affliction are on the horizon for all of us…because we dwell in this place that is not our home.

Yes. God is good.

Even when I don’t understand Him. Even when I scream at Him. Even when I don’t want to talk to Him or trust Him.

He is still good.

He is beyond my emotions – He is beyond humanity’s emotions.

But He’s sees it. He was willing to step down into it.

Experience it as a man.

David speaks of tremendous suffering and most always – we see a resolution in his mind that God is with him and will see him through his moment of terror and need. David is counseling his mind – speaking truth to self that God is still good and able and willing. It doesn’t mean that the suffering ended. It doesn’t mean that David didn’t wrestle again the next morning or even the next hour. It means that he was honest enough to spill out his yuck while speaking the truth that God is still who He says He is.

As I wrote a couple of days ago – if there is one thing that has deepened in me it is grace.

God’s grace smothers me and it smothers you. Otherwise, once we had a moment of doubt or anger towards God – we’d be outcast from His love and inheritance. But He loves us anyway. He knows we suffer, question and doubt and He is long-suffering with us…and brings us to a place of resolve within our spirit. We won’t have answers most often. Life will be hard. Sorrow will still come.

We will feel abandoned, unloved, unheard, unseen…

even though we are not.

God is there in the midst of our deep anguish and lament and He’s there as our souls wrestle with truth.

Yes. I have so questioned God’s love.

But God is good.

551653_4195322797278_50870440_n

Share

404

May friendship, encouragement and grace abound!