I’ve uttered the words “God is good” before, but quickly find myself, only a few minutes later, finding it difficult to be content with my life and questioning God’s goodness. While I know and believe that God is good in all things, my heart can beg to differ at times. My emotions get the best of me and I allow my feelings and circumstances to dictate what is true about God.
How often we as Christians, or even as human beings, compare ourselves to others. We see God bestowing good things to others, when He seems to be refraining blessings for us. Even though God’s goodness may not always be displayed through beautiful blessings of happiness, it doesn’t insinuate God’s goodness doesn’t exist. I believe the same is true for observing His miracles. Miracles are a rare occurrence, used to help fortify our faith, but I don’t believe they are God’s only way to signify His presence, interaction and love for us. If they were, we would be greatly mistaken that God is only present and working sporadically in our lives.
The other night, as I was reflecting on my life, I grew discouraged after comparing my life to that of my sister’s. I had seen God perform many miracles in her life, one being through a serious surgery, leaving her paralyzed and doctors questioned whether she’d walk again, but God helped her miraculously recover and learn how to walk and run again. Years later I had seen how God supplied a home she had been searching earnestly for and selected one to fit her needs, despite her tight financial state. It left me feeling dismayed that my life didn’t consist of God’s miraculous involvement with my life like I had seen so evidently through hers.
I often allow my perception of God’s goodness to be determined by how blessed I feel. Since I know God is in control of all things, my view of God oftentimes is dictated by how content I am with my life and how involved He seems in my circumstances. If I feel God withholding something valuable to me, I grow doubtful of His goodness, His love for me and my worth.
God’s character is unchanging. If He is gracious, kind and all-powerful today, He most definitely will be tomorrow. God is righteous, holy and there is no darkness in Him. This defines His infallible character and also His goodness displayed to us. While our view of “goodness” may be defined as us receiving that answer to prayer we’ve been praying for or God blessing us with days free of struggle, God views “goodness” oh so differently than we do. That is why I believe it is so hard for us not to dictate God’s goodness by what we feel and see.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
In Genesis 50:20, Joseph, although He endured through deep, intense prolonged suffering, he still was aware of God’s goodness. It didn’t come from a perfectly planned life, free of strife and stress. He was able to discern that God intended his suffering so others could be impacted for God’s glory in a greater way. The pain we experience and the suffering we endure, are in fact, indications of God’s goodness in areas we may often perceive as God’s displeasure or lack of involvement.
Possessing earthly, temporal minds, we cannot comprehend God’s eternal purpose for our problems. We see our brokenness and suffering and perceive God to be punishing or withholding goodness from us, when in fact, those are the very things that allow us to discover God’s goodness more intimately. The darkest times allow for us to have the deepest impact on others around us and also in our relationship with God.
We can fully experience God’s goodness towards us when we understand His character. Just as we see in Matthew 7, God loves supplying His children with blessings, gifts and great things.
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!
God never withholds something from us that He knows we need or would benefit us. It just is not His character. Sometimes we may be asking God for a “stone,” believing it is something good that will satisfy our needs, when we are unaware that stone could cause us harm. It is during these times, when we can view God as withholding that “stone” from us as an indication He doesn’t love us. Maybe God is intentionally choosing not to bestow it to you because He’s protecting you from something you’re unaware of its danger. God can see the eternal perspective of our lives and He is aware of what things, circumstances and decisions could bring incredible harm towards us, when we only see what is in front of us.
Sometimes our brokenness is originated by us desiring a “stone” and God allowing us to receive a small taste of what our desires actually could bring about. It is through times like these God isn’t finding satisfaction in us getting our own way, but rather is using it to discipline and refine us to be more like Him.
I’ve struggled through seasons of darkness, not knowing what God was doing in my life. The pain left me broken and many nights of loneliness left me with so many questions to God’s purpose and plan. My heart grew bitter and I doubted God’s reasoning. One question led to another, leaving me flooded in “why’s” and “what if’s.” I had been longing for answers to what occurred in my life for so long, but one day God softly spoke to me and made me realize that even if I had answers to all of my questions, it wouldn’t help ease the pain. If God answered my questions with His eternal big picture purpose I wouldn’t be able to comprehend what He was doing with my earthly, temporal mindset. Some things we’ll only be able to understand when we see God’s master plan in heaven. Some things we weren’t meant to understand just yet.
For my thoughts are not Your thoughts, neither are Your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Even when we are not aware of how God was trying to protect us, we can rest assured, He is continually at work even when we cannot see. True faith is believing when we don’t understand. It’s knowing God is sovereign even when we don’t have all the answers.
Our brokenness may lead us to a place where we doubt God’s intentionality and reasoning. Let your doubt be an indicator of areas you need to strengthen your faith. What areas do you find you doubt God in the most? Those very well could be areas that require your faith to be intentionally strengthened in God. Find areas that your faith is weak and remind yourself of God’s character, sovereignty and faithfulness. Recall what God has done in the past. Remind yourself of the people of the Bible and how God remained faithful. Look to nature, how God proves His provision for every animal, insect and creature. He has sustained all things in the past and present, and will continue to do so.
When we doubt God’s goodness, it can be trying to find the good in our situation, but we can be reminded that even in the deepest, most sorrowful, times in our lives, God is fulfilling His goodness in and through us. We may not see it. We may not understand it, but one day we will, and let me tell you, we will be amazed.