Is God good?
Questioning God’s goodness
We have a chalkboard in our family room that for the past four months has stated, “God is a good Dad.” I originally wrote the phrase on the board because I felt my heart straying towards anxiety and fear instead of embracing the truth I’ve often fought to believe: God isn’t a cruel taskmaster, he’s not sitting around waiting to punish us for screwing up, and he isn’t hands-off. God is a good Dad.
This week has me asking God again, “Are you good? Are you a good Dad?” I learned of a horrible tragedy involving two precious little ones and their grandmother drowning. One moment they were alive and well, and the next . . . just gone. There are no words for what my cousin and her husband’s family are going through.
I’ve talked about this before, but I grew up in a way, tiptoeing around trying to not upset God. When pain visited my heart, I believed God was punishing me. I often sensed a distant Father throwing down a “one day you’ll understand” magnet and leaving me to go at it alone.
This view of God first came in the form of church attendance, reading my Bible, tithing, and not saying cuss words when the other kids were. Later, it turned to telling my friends about Jesus, not having sex, not drinking, and eventually moving to China to be a missionary.
My view of God thrived in middle school, blazed it’s way through high school, graduated college still plaguing my thoughts, and moved to China alongside me. This cruel, unpredictable, distant God didn’t come to comfort me when my heart was broken, didn’t rescue me from pain, and didn’t stop trauma. And in my mind, God’s apparent lack of love for me was all because I needed to do better.
When I lived in China, nothing went as planned and my heart was wrecked. The details of what happened are not important for this story, but I started questioning everything. I felt I was doing everything right, and God still allowed pain.
I finally had to face this God that I didn’t have much of a relationship with and figure out why He’d allow such trauma if I was doing everything ‘right’ (insert list of spiritual disciplines and accomplishments: mission work, daily scripture reading, fasting, etc.)
I did a lot of yelling and screaming and asking questions and crying. Sometimes, I’d remain silent and listen to what God had to say, but for months He said nothing. I now look back and see that He was just sitting with me, listening. Healing didn’t take a week; it took a full two years.
God transformed in my mind from this cruel Father, to a Dad who wanted to hear about everything, weep alongside me in the pain, sit with me in the darkness, and never, ever leave me to go at it alone.
When I talk to God now, I refer to Him as “Dad” because I fight to remember that no matter what hardships come, He is a Good Dad.
As Madeline L’Engle says,
“I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.”
I also think back to my favorite video by Rob Bell where he talks about being caught in a furious thunderstorm with his one year old son and their long walk home. All his son knows is the terror of the thunderstorm and the reality of his fear. Bell holds his shrieking son close and whispers in his ear over and over, “We’re gonna make it. I love you. Dad knows the way home.”
I don’t know why God doesn’t put on his cape more often and save His precious ones from unbearable suffering. But I do know this hope our good Dad gives each of us that swells our hearts in time of deepest pain–hope that promises not to disappoint. In my experience, our good Dad always knows the way home.
Have you experienced this hope? Can you relate to questioning God’s goodness?
Please pray for the Monroe and Cohen families in grieving the loss of Renee, Reagan, and Jax. We cannot fathom what they are going through, but we can grieve alongside and lift them up to their Good Dad.
If you liked this post, you may also like:
- God Doesn’t Want You to Fake It
- God Isn’t Punishing You
- Daddy Issues
- Two Choices: A Life With and A Life Without Hope