I want the goodness of God to feel good, but is this realistic?
When loss is the uninvited guest of our home, we feel something about it. The loss seems to invite feelings of grief, mourning, aching that crush the core of the one living in the loss.
It seems to be in these times we ache for answers to help us understand the purpose of the pain. “How can God be good when this is so painful?”, we say aloud or keep it tucked away in the secret parts of our heart so no one knows you are questioning the goodness of God.
God created us to have feelings and it doesn’t make us weak to express them. We hurt so we cry. We are excited so we laugh. We are happy so we smile. We are tired so we sleep (or are grumpy all day… if you’re anything like me). We are stressed so we drink wine. We lose a loved one so we grieve.
Yet when feelings become the dictator of our life, we can quickly lose heart. How do you respond when met with all of these feelings? Do you cast your cares on the Lord (Psalm 55:22 NIV)? Do you trust the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5 NIV)? Do you let God’s love drive out your fear (1 John 4:18)? How you respond in the face of your feelings can the regluing or undoing of you.
God’s goodness does not always feel good. The book of Job clearly exposes this reality. I wonder how many people walk around feeling wounded by God because they have allowed their feelings to dictate how they respond.
Ten years ago, I would have confidently exclaimed God’s goodness and it would have felt good to say. I would even provide you with evidence of his goodness in my life, but the reality is this evidence was based on circumstances that felt good. My feelings dictated by belief about God’s goodness.
On June 24, 2011, my feelings became the most unreliable source of truth for me. I was met with the devastation that would forever change how I did life with the Lord. What appeared to be evidence of God’s abandonment was just the beginning of the stripping of a belief system that was faulty to be clothed with what was true from the Truth.
God’s goodness has not always felt good but, I can firmly say, He has always worked the pain for my good. It has been the saving of my soul that has been worth it all. With an aching in my gut and a tears welling in my eyes, I can testify that He has been worth it. It’s been in these tragedies that I have experienced some of the most intimate times with God, in turn deepening my faith.
Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) This Scripture does not say, “And we know that all things are good for us.” We can trust that He is going to work all things for our good even when it is not good for us.
Death is not good for us! Dear one, if death was good for us there would be no need for Jesus to come and die and be resurrected to save us from death. He died on that cross because death is not good for us. Death is terrible and excruciatingly painful and not what God intended when he created this world (Genesis 1-3 NIV).
If you are walking the road of losing a loved one, lean into Jesus. He knows this is not what is good for you but he will work it for your good. Abide in Him and you will produce lasting fruit and much of it, even though you feel as if you might die from grief (John 15).
If you are walking alongside someone who is grieving, will you share this truth with them? This may be the breath of fresh air they are longing for. This may be their break from the idealism of the well meaning that is suffocating them. They just may need someone to come and sit with them and say, “this is terrible”. Your friend can be in excruciating pain and still trust God is going to work this out for her good. I’m so grateful for the testimony of Katherine and Jay Wolf in their book Hope Heals,
No amount of catharsis or perspective finding will change the fact that our situation is terribly sad and deeply broken. I can give God the glory, and it can still hurt. I used to cry myself to sleep every night. But I have learned, above all other lessons, that healing for each person is spiritual. We will be fully restored in heaven, but we are actually healed on earth right now. My experience has caused me to redefine healing and to discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls (page 18).
Are you struggling because you desperately want God’s goodness to feel good?
I did too.
It feels like a crushing blow when this truth is met with your inescapable reality that life- no matter how many years pass, new life that grows, exciting experiences that arise- our now filtered through the lens of loss. But this is where hope comes in, dear one. We can look forward with the hope that someday God’s goodness will always feel good because all will be made right (Revelation 21 NIV). As you wait expectantly for that day, you can experiencing healing of the most broken place: your soul.
If this post resonated with you, journey over to Newness through the Pain.