Recently, I heard a student share the struggle of her faith weaning and waning with different seasons in life. In her articulation of this, she said, “I can know all the right answers, but I find it hard to comfort my friends in their hard times because I don’t really believe the answers to be true. What comfort is it to say what doesn’t seem real?” In a nutshell, she summed up much of what we believe and act out in the Church today. We know that God is good, but we cannot find or offer comfort in those aspects of His character because our hearts are far from believing it.
- “God is good, but he doesn’t care about me losing my job.”
- “God is good, but he is far from me when my son got in that car crash.”
- “God is good, but he took my father too soon.”
- “God is good, but (fill in the blank).”
A doubt of his goodness is ultimately a lack of awareness of His presence. When we stop seeing His redeeming work among us, in the good and the bad, we link His character only to the things that are happening around us rather than what He is doing in-spite of our circumstances.
In a season where we are reminded to be grateful, we often look back at the past 12 months and find ourselves anything but grateful for the circumstances of our lives. Family members die, others get diagnosed with cancer, friends move away, money is not always there, and things rarely look like we dreamed they would be when we were younger. If we have been in the church for any length of time, we often file into a pew Sunday morning and smile while talking about how good our God is to the people around us. Life can be utter chaos, and we can be far from the reality of Christ in our lives, but somehow we still fake a smile and let the community around us know that we’ve “got this.” We learn all the right things to say, to do, and when to smile and when to cry. The American “can do” attitude has bled its way into the church and resulted in a group of people seeking to “fake it ’til they make it”. The enemy has convinced us to not let the people around us know how much we are struggling, and in that isolation, we quickly start to question who God really is.
In moments like this within my own life, I have been struck in a deep way by a cliché saying that I have known all my life—God is good. While the enemy tempts us in several ways throughout the course of our journey in this world, all of it comes down to him getting us to question the character of God. In the garden, the serpent got Eve to doubt if God really had her best in mind. Throughout the Bible, it’s the same story of people doubting God’s ability to show up, provide, be faithful, or be just, and as a result, they take matters into their own hands time and time again. All of our sin, all of our temptations, all of our wayward thoughts can come down to a doubting that God is who He says He is, and will do as He says He will do.
If all our sin, doubt, and temptation is founded in a doubt of God’s character, then our biggest weapon to counter that is to immerse ourselves in the study of His character. I have found that coming to see Him for who He truly is makes me desire to fall at His knees and worship. To see Him for who He is should make us all the more aware of who we are not, how much we fail, and how much He succeeds. That is not a defeating reality, but rather a moment that makes us want to sing all the more of his deep, deep goodness. When chaos and the unknown have consumed me, there is a cry from deep within that longs for Jesus, and not words about Him. Not for Him to fix it, not for Him to solve all my problems, but for Him to simply sit in the room with me and feel what I feel. In that, I have found a God who shows up. People die, lives change, people get diagnosed with cancer, marriages fall apart, jobs do not last forever, but God is showing up in the midst of it all. Though I would love to put the experience of His presence into words, I have tried and failed. All I am left with is to say from deep places within my heart, God is good.
In this season of taking time to be thankful for all that we have – the family that is around us, the home that we sleep in, and the food we consume – I invite you to be most thankful for the God we serve. The natural response to an awareness of God’s character is utter thankfulness that He chooses to work His kingdom out among people like you and me.
So the question remains, do you find yourself overwhelmed with who Christ is? Or just overwhelmed with your circumstances? What would it look like if we stopped getting wrapped up in the things we think about Him and find out for ourselves who really He is by spending time in His presence? What if we stopped asking Him to change our circumstances, and became overwhelmed by who He is? It is in His presence that we find the essence of thanksgiving. Coming to know Christ at deeper depths should naturally drive us to our knees in simple adoration of greatness. He is speaking, He is working, He is showing up, it is who He is, are we listening?
–By LilyAnn Matchett, CRA Student Chaplain