I've been thinking about that prayer a lot lately as I've been contemplating our last two years since returning home from Uganda. We've experienced numerous trials and hardships in our lives and the lives of our extended family members since then and a question has been on my mind lately- Is God Really Good?
How can God really be "good" when mental illness overtakes the mind of someone you love? When finances are so tight and thing after thing drains your account, never allowing you to get ahead? When a child dies in your womb without ever having the chance to breathe on Earth? When you find out your husband or wife is cheating on you? When you desperately desire to bear children but can't? When you receive the news that you have just a few months or years to live? When you are overcome with addiction? When relationships dissolve and friends turn to enemies? When past abuse haunts you? When everything and everyone you've ever held dear is stripped from you in a moment of tragedy? The list of terrible things that you or I have experienced in life is long...
So, tell me.... Where is God in all of that? Is He seriously GOOD in all of that BAD?
Yes, He is. Here's how I know:
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Not only does the Bible tell me that God is good, but it also tells me that He uses the circumstances in my life for good:
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.
The Lord your God will then make you successful in everything you do...the Lord will again delight in being good to you.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
It's a difficult concept for Christians in the midst of hardship to wrap their minds around- the concept that God is good even though life sucks. Even when we're completely hopeless and helpless. Even when it seems that no matter how hard we try things just get worse. God's there. He's good in the middle of it all. And in the middle of it all He's working everything for our good.
BUT, there's an important thing to remember: God's good often doesn't look like how we think our good should look. If I was running my life you better believe there are lots of good things that I would include in my story and many not so good things I would leave out. But God is infinitely smarter and more wise than me and is working out my story for a greater good I may not or cannot ever understand. He has a birds-eye view of His creation and can see how every circumstance affects another. What happens in my life may be for the good of another person. Or for my good down the road, or for the good of humanity. No matter what, I can be assured that God will use each situation in my life for His glory! And, if I allow it to, that not-so-good situation can stretch and grow me and make me more like Jesus. It can give me understanding to comfort someone else in a similar position. It can bring healing to deep parts of a heart that can only be healed through exposing old wounds. I may never know why things I consider "bad" happen, but I can choose to believe GOD IS GOOD and HAS MY GOOD IN MIND no matter what.
When I prayed years ago that God would do whatever it took to keep me close to Him, I knew that one of the things that has an amazing ability to bring people back to the Lord is trials. Hardships bring us to our knees and force us to either deepen our faith in Christ or reject Him all together. Your life may not be going the way you planned it but it's going exactly the way God planned it. How awesome is it that God loves us enough that He will use every circumstance in our lives for His glory and our ultimate good and growth in Him! I cannot understand why God allows so much evil in this world, but I will choose to let trials and hardships build in me a stronger relationship with the Lord. And I can only do that if I trust in God's goodness.
For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.