There is a question I wrestle with often. I can think of two specific times in my life when I’ve really wrestled with this question. Once recently and another that happened about 14 years ago. We even talked a bit about this Friday night at our Community Group from church.
Here’s the question:
Is God good?
Maybe I’m talking in my own head here and maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this question but…
Is God good?
Here’s two times in my life I’ve questioned this. 14 years ago my sister died suddenly. Many know that story so I won’t repeat it but it left me with hard questions of God’s goodness. Mind you, I wasn’t a believer at the time but nevertheless, I spent a long time believing God was a cruel killer whose aim was off. I believed with all my heart that, if He was going to kill someone, He should have killed me. I was a godless reprobate that was embroiled in an affair with a married woman, among the many other sins I was openly living in. So He should have gone all Old Testament on me, or so I thought.
So when my sister died, I raged at God telling Him that, if He was really good and just, He would have killed me and not her. Fast forward about 5 years from that date and I came to faith in Jesus. I actually came to a place where I believed in my heart that Jesus is who He said He was, that He was crushed and killed for my sin so that I could have His righteousness. I was amazed then and am still amazed at why He would do that.
God poured out His justice and wrath for sin on His own Son, on Himself, so that we, by faith, could have Christ’s righteousness. If that kind of grace doesn’t amaze us then we really don’t have any idea of what grace is!
But I digress.
I spent a lot of time questioning His goodness after my sister’s death. The other time was much more recent. As people who know me and my family, most are familiar with the story of us church planting and the subsequent failure of that church plant. There are many reasons that plant failed. Some I know and some I don’t yet know. Some of those reasons are my fault and some of those reasons I don’t know whose fault they were.
I’m not even really sure if that’s even fair or beneficial to try and determine fault.
What I mean by that is one thing that came up in our CG discussion Friday night. We’re working through the book of Judges and it’s really good so far. Friday night one of the elders said something along the lines of, “If we believe God is sovereign but not good, then He becomes some cruel bully. We must not only believe in His sovereignty but also His goodness. Otherwise some things just don’t make sense.” That’s not a direct quote but you get the idea.
That statement really started up some questions again in my heart about our plant that failed. I have to be honest here:
I’m still not sure how to feel about that. I’m still struggling with wrapping my heart around what went wrong.
I’m still struggling to see God’s goodness in that pain and failure. And, maybe this makes me selfish, but I’m struggling with why it feels like ministry was taken away from me.
I mean, my wife and I packed up and moved across the country for seminary and to answer God’s call on my life to go into pastoral ministry. We worked our butts off during seminary to run a business and pay bills and start a family and be broke. Then we answered His call again to move again and plant a church and it hurt and it was hard and we feel like we sacrificed a lot.
So there are days that I don’t get it. There are days that I question God’s goodness. I don’t understand why this call to teach His Word burns in my heart and yet I’m not allowed to do it right now.
If God is good then why?
Do you ever ask yourself that question? If God is good then why ___ ?
Which brings me back to our discussion Friday night. If we believe in God’s sovereignty then I think we must believe in His goodness. If God is sovereign but not good, then He’s just some mean master of puppets pulling strings for his own narcissistic reasons. If God is good but not sovereign then He’s more like your granddad who’s sweet and nice and gives you cookies but has no real control over anything.
He must be both sovereign and good or He’s not God.
I find myself grateful that He is both good and sovereign. His sovereignty gives me comfort because I know He sees the end. I can’t see the end. All I can see is what today brings but God sees the end. That end, if we are in Christ, is to be conformed to His image.
Now that is good.
Soli Deo Gloria!