Faith,  Shame

SufferingandGodsGoodness

I have to speak out. I have to speak these words. Especially now.

You see, I have this issue. I have an issue with God’s goodness. Because His goodness isn’t my goodness. Like, it’s not goodness on my terms. And that’s hard to swallow. BUT I love Him and I believe HE IS GOOD.

 I think we’ve got it wrong.

We believe our definition of goodness is His definition. Its not. Its just not.

Let me explain…

Social media gets my goat for a lot of reasons, but probably the number one reason is the misrepresentation of the Christian life. I can’t tell you how many pictures I see of a happy little family or some fun event #GodisGood #blessed #countmyblessings (the list goes on, right?). While I’m happy for you, your happiness is not what makes God good. Our circumstances don’t make God good.

Being from Texas, we’re pretty close to the devastation that Hurricane Harvey left. I have close friends and Facebook friends that live in Houston and the area surrounding. I prayed for these friends, yall. I prayed for their lives first and foremost. I prayed for their homes. I prayed for their neighborhoods. I prayed. They prayed. We all prayed. And the vast majority of the people I directly know were spared major flooding and devastation. And I prayed prayers of thanksgiving. They prayed prayers of thanksgiving, we all did! But what I’ve seen arise are things like “we prayed and He answered”, pictures of minimal damage or no damage at all with #GodisGood. And my goat gets got.

Because YALL…. GOD’S GOODNESS IS NOT DEPENDENT ON US.

These hashtags, though well meaning, send the wrong message. They send the message of the prosperity gospel (which REALLY gets my goat). They send the message that if you love God, earthly blessings. If you are blessed, God is good.

What about the families that prayed that lost EVERYTHING?

What about the families that prayed that lost loved ones?

What about the mother that prays while her child dies?

What about the husband that prays while his wife leaves?

What about the single person that prays for a spouse?

What about the homeless person that prays for a job or a home?

What about the addict that prays for freedom?

What about the depressed person that prays for joy? For peace? For reprieve?

Are those people any less loved or cared for by God?

Did He pay any less attention to the prayers of the people who lost everything vs. the people who were spared everything?

Is He not good because of Hurricane Harvey? Is He not good because of mental illness? Is He not good because of addiction? Is He not good because of homelessness, illness, divorce? Is He not good because of death??

Or is He any less good because of suffering?

He is absolutely good and His goodness does not waver and it does not lessen. We have to stop sending the message to the world that His goodness is based on our comforts. Because His glory and goodness is more than this world can hold and bigger than our comforts. We can’t imagine what His goodness TRULY is. We can’t imagine that He’s good outside of our circumstances.

Some of that is our human finite thinking that we don’t see things outside of our context. He has a much, much bigger and grander context. But it is so hard to see that bigger and grander context. And let’s be honest, it is scary to think that my circumstances aren’t a barometer for His goodness or blessings. It would be so much easier if following God meant that I gained earthly blessings and lived comfortably. But it doesn’t. So we have to look bigger than ourselves and look to our Glory to find the truth of why He is good.

His goodness is about WHO He is. It’s about things that I can’t capture in a blog and that can’t be understood by our brain. But we know it. We know His goodness because we breathe it in. An aroma. A fragrance of grace and mercy and love.

I’m not saying that we can’t rejoice in our blessings and praise Him for prayers that are answered the way in which we hoped, but I’m saying we need to recognize His goodness at all times. As Christians we have a responsibility to stop putting up false pretenses that our lives are fairies and unicorns if we love Him and get real. He reveals His goodness to us in so many precious ways when we are the ones suffering. When life doesn’t look the way we think it should or we don’t get the answer we prayed desperately for, He shows us His goodness. I can’t answer where or how He’ll show you His goodness, but it’s there.

I know a family that went through the horrific loss of their sweet, sweet three year old. He lost his battle to cancer. These people love the Lord, yall. They prayed. They trusted the Lord, no matter the outcome. When they lost that sweet baby boy, they still praised Him. They stood by His goodness and did not move. I’m not saying they did not have serious emotions and grief (and still do), but they did not move from seeing and feeling and tasting and SHARING God’s goodness. What an example of true worship!

So we have to be real about how hard life is and hashtag God’s goodness and blessings even when we get the answers we don’t want.  The answers we specifically prayed against. Even when we’re wailing. Even when we’re hurting. Even when we’re on our knees, beating the ground as our world crumbles around us. As Hillsong United says,

“Even when the fight seems lost,

I’ll praise you.

Even when it hurts like hell,

I’ll praise you.

Even when it makes no sense to sing,

Louder then I’ll sing your praise.”

The only reason you sing when it makes no sense is because He is.

And because HE is good.

As Christians, we have to share the truth of a life with God. A life with Him is not rainbows and unicorns and smiles and happy all the time. A life with Him does not revolve around our circumstances and our comforts. A life with Him does not mean I get what I want.

A life with Him is about Him.

And that’s how I’ve resolved my issue. It doesn’t mean it is easy to swallow. Especially when I’m looking fear in the face and I have no answers. Especially when I get the answers I don’t want. Especially when I’m hurting. But it resolves the issue because I have to know His goodness isn’t my goodness. His goodness isn’t OUR goodness.  It’s bigger than me because HE’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than us because HE’s bigger than us.

So, friends, celebrate, be happy, praise Him for blessings, but also, let’s come together and praise Him and His goodness even when it hurts.

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