God is always good, but sometimes life is rubbish

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“God is good”- I hear this phrase a lot. I’m not doubting its truth. But sometimes we deny the difficulties of life when we shrug things off by saying “God is good”. It can become an empty and glib statement rather than a declaration of thanksgiving, celebration or warfare.

I have a very good friend, one of my closest and dearest. She has graciously allowed me to re-tell some of her story. Four and a half years ago, when she was 5 months pregnant, her husband died overnight with no warning. In the months after his death ,whilst wrestling with the pain and depths of such great loss, my friend was surrounded by people (including myself) telling her that God is good. She is a remarkable woman who has gracefully fought and continues to fight through her grief, relating to God in a deeper way than many of us will ever understand.

God is good and has been good to her in that place of grief. His goodness is not some kind of shallow goodness of a God who just shrugs these things off. It’s the goodness of a God who really knows what pain and suffering is because he’s been in that place.

I can’t pretend to understand the depths of sorrow, anguish, pain and loneliness my friend has experienced. But I know the One who does and who is with her in that place. He doesn’t have to pretend because Jesus experienced all those emotions in his life here on earth, particularly as he surrendered himself on the cross.

Hebrews 2 tells us that, whilst on earth, Jesus

“had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed.”

I am so proud of my friend and of the way she has navigated this incredibly difficult journey. According to the bible, faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) My friend has shown me a new level of what that faith looks like. It is faith to continue to believe in the goodness of God, as demonstrated in the nature of Jesus, when our circumstances don’t fully reflect that, and our emotions don’t feel it. I know she doesn’t think she’s always expressed this kind of faith. She hasn’t flippantly declared God’s goodness throughout all of her journey but what I observe is that she has continued to ask questions, has kept trying to relate to God in her rawness and ‘realness’, and to allow him to draw near to her in that place of suffering.

I have a lot to learn from her.

posted by Anna

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4 thoughts on “God is always good, but sometimes life is rubbish

  1. Really wise and thought-provoking piece of writing. Thank you for tackling the difficult subject of suffering and pain. There are no easy answers but the questions can’t be avoided and need to be asked again and again.
    thanks again to you and your friend for allowing you to share.

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    • thank you ian. it’s really not an easy subject but one we have to address as it’s something we all face. will pass on your thanks to my friend too.

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  2. That’s all stuff I can obviously relate to. I think there’s a lot of fear of suffering within church, which is entirely understandable – it’s not really a barrel of laughs. Sometimes it feels like saying things like ‘God is good’ is a way of trying to hide from suffering, like screwing your eyes shut and hoping it all goes away. ‘Jesus suffered therefore I shouldn’t’ seems to be the logic.
    But as with your friend, I’ve been discovering a deeper truth and reality. I remember people used to say to me God knows how I feel, but to be honest that just felt so incredibly patronising and only made me angry with God. What I thought God was saying to me though was ‘Now you know how I felt’. That was a pretty humbling thing to hear.
    http://buhmuh.blogspot.com/2009/08/your-face-is-just-furbelow.html

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