Is He Good?
Somewhere over the past few years, I approached a dangerous place. It didn’t feel dangerous. In fact, it felt safe. It felt— in some ways—wise.
While I believe that God can do absolutely anything, my heart was beginning to believe something just as life-stealing. He can, but He won’t. Sustained seasons of suffering can sometimes distort our vision. But this became an even more common belief during the pandemic when our adoption all but came to a halt. I knew He had the power to bring about certain necessary documents we needed for Ella during the pandemic, but the reality felt pretty clear. Could God do it? Absolutely. Would he? Probably not. My assessment of reality grew to eclipse the true reality of who God is.
This experience was a slippery slope for me. Situations followed— diagnoses, loss, broken relationships, ongoing struggles, new setbacks— and my stance deepened. Maybe it was an attempt to be grounded in reality or under the guise of protecting myself, but my mantra became, of course He can, but He won’t. I know the reality of diagnoses of people I love. I understand the course that loss and suffering often take. I know what happens when certain kinds of conflicts play out. I appreciate the reality of disability and trauma. Why pray? Why ask? Why hope?
In an attempt to protect my heart, I was crushing it. What does this belief say about who God really is? What does this belief expose about my understanding of God’s posture towards me? He sees my needs and suffering, but chooses to not act. Is this really who God is? If so, I would rather not present my need, show my vulnerability than move towards Him and be met with heartache.
God clearly and kindly allowed my heart to be exposed. While listening to a conference, Jackie Hill Perry spoke on Genesis 22. She unpacked two types of unbelief. The one area of unbelief is that God cannot do what He says he can do— He is weak. Of course, I don’t believe He is weak. The other area of unbelief is that God won’t do the impossible for me— He is not good. That truth began to shatter my hard heart. Many years of suffering and heartache had left me believing that God is not good towards me. How can I trust or be near to a God I believe is not good? John Piper took it a step further. In Exodus 17, he spoke of the Israelites entering into a desert. Even on the heels of being delivered from Egypt through the dry, Red Sea, they were quick to forget. God was still with them. He knew where He was leading them. “When He leads you into the waterless wilderness and there is no human hope, trust Him. He did not spare His own son. Will He not give you all that you need?” Even as I face my own lack of trust. Even as I confess my unbelief. Even as I admit that I have believed for too long that God is not good. Even as I see the effects of my hardened heart. God remains full of love, compassionate, quick to forgive, gracious to expose sin.
I am beginning to believe that while God can be trusted with impossible prayers, He can also be trusted to grant us impossible faith if He does not answer. Maybe the greater faith and intimacy flow from those impossible prayers God chooses not to answer. Pray impossible prayers, lean into the goodness and care of our Savior, ask for impossible faith to see God’s care even when your assessment of reality tells you He isn’t good. Remember all He has done. Remember all He has done. Remember all He has done.
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. Psalm 90