I Can't See How God Can Possibly Be Good

His name was Joseph. He had to endure family turmoil and abuse at the hands of his own brothers. He was falsely accused and imprisoned and his biography is written for us in the book of Genesis. Am I actually going to attempt to convince you that God was good in all that suffering? No. Because Joseph himself said, "God meant it unto good" (Genesis 50:20).

In the greatness of our troubles there may often be space for the greater display of the goodness of God.
— Charles Spurgeon

Perhaps you're thinking, "I can't see how God could possibly be considered a good God in all that mess."

That's just the problem isn't it? It is hard for us to see the goodness of God when all around us is not good. It's even harder to trust Him. But the problem is not with God's character. The problem is with our vision. You see, Psalm 145:9 says, "The LORD is good to all." But for some reason we feel that if He were really good than nobody should have to suffer. 

Suffering however, is often the tool of God's choice to cause us to grow and become stronger and closer to Him (James 1:1-5). Isn't it true that from the anvils of suffering rise some of the greatest stories of heroism, sacrifice, and perseverance? Isn't it also true that often suffering becomes God's greatest platform to demonstrate His glory, sovereignty, and faithfulness (keep Joseph in mind right now)?

But doesn't it seem like if God has good reasons for our suffering, He should at least tell us what those reasons are? Well, perhaps at times He does let us in on why He's chosen to allow us to suffer. Often however, He does not. But that doesn't mean He's not good. Maybe he knows we wouldn't understand or be able to handle His explanation.

It's like a small child getting a necessary vaccination as they look into their parent's eyes with big tears and an expression that says, "this hurts! why are you allowing this person to do this to me?" The parent knows the pain is good for the child, but the child will not understand any explanation offered. 

Despite having to endure the pain of a needle though, the child does not do so all alone. Through the whole ordeal they can clutch their parent's hand, and when it's over enjoy their comforting embrace. 

Do you remember Joseph? Well, throughout his dark days you read these words regarding God's activity in his life; "the LORD was with Joseph." Though no explanation for his trials were given, God's presence was very evident and a source of comfort. 

Often the goodness of God is demonstrated in suffering not because He gives us an explanation, but because He stays close by our side through whole storm. He clutches our hand and says, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isaiah 41:10).  

Perhaps it would clear up our blurry vision of God's goodness if we learned to find comfort in His presence and His promise to, "uphold" us when suffering. 

  

What Does God Have to Say for Himself?

Have you ever heard the expression, "what do you have to say for yourself?" I can still hear my mom posing that question to me when dealing with my disobedience as a young boy. My answer generally was a shameful, "nothing." That was never the right answer by the way.

When suffering has invaded our comfortable lives, questions often abound. We want to know why it happened, why God didn't prevent it, and How allowing or sending such adversity into our lives could possibly be the work of a loving God. It's as if we're asking God, "what do you have to say for yourself?" 

So, what does God have to say for Himself?

Well for starters He would like us to know when He allows us to suffer it is not an act of disobedience on His part: Psalms 145:17, "The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works." He would like to gently remind us of Jesus' words when He said, "in the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33). In other words, the Lord would remind us that He Himself told us trials are a guarantee in life.

However, knowing how painful the suffering is for us and that often we need more than just answers - we need valid reasons to rejoice and be hopeful - God would say such things as the following: I see your affliction and I hear your cries. In fact I know all about your sorrows and I even know how painful this is (Exodus 3:7). He would want us to know that He is in complete control and has a purpose for the darkness.

If we have experienced the spiritual birth of John chapter three, then Jesus encourages us to find peace, joy, and hope in our heavenly future...a time when all tears will be wiped dry (John 14:1-6; Revelation 21:4).  

Finally, God would urge us to cast all of our cares and burdens upon Him. Why? Because He deeply cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). 

So, what does God have to say for Himself? He says, please give me your burdens - your cares - because I deeply care about you. In the mean time don't forget to join us in September as we continue to consider how much God cares for us and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to answer them for you.

 

Suffering is a Personal Experience

Pain and suffering is not only a universal experience; it's a very a personal experience. Pain knows my address and your address and it will drop into our lives uninvited. Sometimes it will even stay longer than we anticipated and sadly for some suffering will never leave. It will remain the uninvited resident in their lives. For this reason, the issues of pain, suffering, and evil is an emotionally charged issue for many. It's deeply personal. Theologically it has led some to conclude that God is either evil, impotent, or non-existent. 

However, the Bible has much to say regarding, "the sufferings of this present time" (Romans 8:18). Written onto the pages of God's Word are the real accounts of men and women who suffered the loss of a loved one, family turmoil, disease, abandonment, among other trials. And God is not presented as an evil or impotent being either. 

Instead we meet a God who gives Himself.  For example, He becomes the father of, "the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5). To the widow, God becomes their defender and judge (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 68:5), and for those being oppressed, God is the greatest refuge (Psalm 9:9). In fact, Jesus Himself stated He is the one who heals, "the brokenhearted" and sets the captive and the wounded free (Luke 4:18). Then there is the invitation to cast, "...all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). 

That invitation is extended to all who are either weighed down with the daily cares of life and to those devastated by immense suffering. It is not the invitation of an evil and weak God who does not exist. It is the invitation of an all-powerful God who cares deeply about you, your pain, and your questions. 

We hope you will begin making plans to join us throughout the month of September as we consider just how much God cares about all of us.