Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights, and bugs burrow through coffins? Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt? // Ann Voskamp
I’m tired today, and this is the question I ask: Can there be a good God?
I’ve been tired for weeks. Tired of myself and tired of the world, the way that the cosmic powers over this present darkness have influenced us both (Ephesians 6:12).
My questioning of God’s goodness comes from a lack of faith, I know.
I know, I know, I know.
“I know the theological answers,” Voskamp says. “But do my blood and do my pulse?”
I’m asking too.
Being a Christian feels much harder living on a campus of thousands and thousands of professing believers than it did living in a predominantly Muslim country. On occasion I wonder, surrounded by thousands of students and faculty lifting their hands in worship: are we all brainwashed? Are we all entirely deluded? Or am I just ignorant and ungrateful, a millennial pathetically succumbing to her quarter-life crisis?
There are students on this campus struggling with identity and sin and circumstances, and these are not easy struggles. I have often been quick to offer Scripture and answers. Quick to declare the truth on every unfortunate event or inconvenient matter that presents itself. Recently I have been slower to speak, slower to condemn. I am one of the strugglers.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). I know, I know, I know.
Today the rubber is meeting the road. I am tired. Can there be a good God?
I miss my dad far more today than I did on the day that he died, when the pace of tears moved faster than the pace of understanding. I miss him far more than I did six months ago, or three months ago. My life right now, on a beautiful campus, with beautiful friends and teachers, is more than I could ask for, and harder than I imagined.
I wonder, will home, the way I think of it and the way it is no more, ever be truly happy again? Maybe. Maybe not. The branding iron of death, the initial scorching subsided, has left a mark that will last until the day my body fails and eternity is inhaled. I know that for those who love God all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).
I know, I know, I know. But I don’t understand.
There is one assurance to which I cling, even when I have more struggles than answers: in whatever desire is left unfulfilled, wrenched painfully from my reality today, I see a promise of greater fulfillment in Christ. I count everything as loss, because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord (Philippians 3:8).
Even in the most severe doubts I have ever faced, I will trust.
In May, I watched my grandmother’s memorial service from my bedroom in Jordan as my aunt streamed it live on Facebook. I watched and I remembered years of my grandmother’s piano lessons, her tears when I read her something I wrote or recited Scripture, my tears when she scolded me, and holidays with dozens of family members, everyone together. The service was beautiful. I wasn’t the only family member participating in the service from another continent; I could see that my cousin Peter, a missionary in Guatemala, was watching as well.
My grandmother always insisted that she would live to see all of her twenty-three grandchildren get married. She didn’t live to see any of us get married. This made me sad. God couldn’t have let her live to see even one grandchild married?
And yet, as I considered this, I realized that she will see her grandchildren, and generations beyond, married. By the grace of God and the faith that she passed on to her children and grandchildren, a union of eternal joy and intimacy beyond what we can grasp is in our near future. She skipped the temporary glimpse, but she will feast and rejoice at the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:6-8)
I know, I know, I know. Still, I wonder.
Today I struggle. Today I miss even the glimpse of the good things that are mine in Christ Jesus. My vision is clouded by the questions.
I trust that faithfulness and obedience, even in trials and uncertainty and misery, will one day be rewarded as I see the surpassing worth of Christ Jesus. I know him today. Someday I will see Him. Someday I will see and I will know.
Can there be a good God?
He brings me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me is love (Song of Solomon 2:4).
Can there be a good God?
Sometimes, my blood and my pulse aren’t there yet. But His Word is there.
The answer is yes.