When God Doesn't Seem Good
|by Barbara Early|
One of the hardest things to teach children (or adults for that matter) can be that God is good. I don't mean that we don't put forth a valiant effort. The early choruses we teach our children--"God is love, " "God is so good," etc, all clearly state the nature of God.
But something clearly stated is not always something clearly communicated.
One of the ways we try to explain God to children is as a loving father. Jesus did the same when he used the term "Abba" --equivalent to our "Daddy." We tell children that God is a loving Father, who longs to take us into His arms.
But what does this mean to someone who was raised fatherless? Or with an abusive parent? I can personally testify that the idea of God as a benevolent father is a challenging concept for a child who has spent hours cowering in a closet while a drunken parent rampages through the house.
But what happens when the floods rise, the hurricanes blow, the earth shakes, and wildfires destroy the landscape? Is God still good?
It doesn't take long to see that God is often defined in our minds by our circumstances. What we hear flies swiftly to oblivion, and we tend to operate on what we see or feel of the world around us. And what we see is often wickedness, vanity, suffering, and pain. It's hard to understand a good and loving God in that context.
If God is really there, then why does He allow evil to go on? If God really loves me, why can't I see Him or feel His presence? If God really cares about me, why am I in this circumstance? Will somebody please explain this to me?
And so God did. One only needs to open the Bible to the beginning to hear these same themes echoed. In Genesis chapter one, God speaks a beautiful world into existence, and calls it good. In Genesis chapter two, God places man in a lush garden, filled with all good things. He then fellowships with Adam and Eve face to face.
In chapter three, a serpent comes asking a question. "Hath God said...?" He then goes on to question God's motives. He tells her that God's been withholding something good from her. See for yourself. And Eve looked, and the fruit did seem like it would be a good thing. So Adam and Eve trusted their own eyes and their own wisdom, instead of what God had said. And all the seeming injustices of the world are explained in this one verse.
We don't see the world correctly when we cast ourselves as the hero of our story (or the victim either, for that matter) and God as a villain. God IS good. It's we who are not. If I can continue the casting analogy, I'd have to say that God is the hero, and we are a second villain, only after the serpent. Fortunately, for some reason known only to God, we are also the love interest.
And then the ultimate love was offered. God condescended to walk among sinful man again. Jesus explained the love of the father and how our sins had separated us from him. He taught through parables how the prodigal son could come home to the loving arms of the Father. The message was that a loving God wanted sinful man to come to him. And Jesus' blood paved the way for that to happen, as he took the penalty for man's sin through his death on the cross.
Good? Amazingly so.
But even after coming to Him, and receiving His grace, it's so easy to listen to the voice whispering in our ear. When we go through a trial, it whispers, Does God really love you? When making a decision, it whispers, Is God's way really best? When we feel alone, Does He really care? And the tempter designs that we trust our own way instead.
Which voices are we listening to?
Question: Can you think of a time in your life when you doubted God's goodness, but now you see his plan? Or maybe you'd care to share how God was good to you this week.Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and facebook scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. Her holiday novella, Gold, Frankincense and Murder will be released from White Rose Publishing in time for the holiday season. You can learn more about her writing on her personal blog: http://barbearly.blogspot.com/ or see what's for dinner on her recipe blog: http://bflogal.blogspot.com/.