Archive for the ‘God’s Goodness’ Category

A Father to Cry With

Posted: December 29, 2011 by clairer in God's Goodness, Trusting God

It is not uncommon for people to tell me when I’m struggling with difficulties or trials to “trust God” because He will work it all out for my good even if I can’t see it yet. It’s a good reminder and I know it’s true because the Bible guarantees that God “works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” However, sometimes I want — I need — something more than just that reassurance of future hope. I know that I have a sovereign God, but sometimes I need to be reminded that He is also my loving Father.

I find it very easy to imagine God as….not unsympathetic, but almost unfeeling toward the pain that I experience. I know that God loves me, but I can easily picture Him as more distant — seeing my pain, but (although He cares) not particularly hurting with me because of His omniscient confidence that all will end well.

But….is this how a true, good father would behave toward his hurting child? Even if the father knew that everything would be okay — for example, if a father knew his child’s broken leg would set and heal properly — would he be distant and content with just that knowledge? Or, is it more likely that he will still ache with and for his child and the pain his child must endure before the healing? Obviously, a good father would do the latter. In the same way, I believe God also aches for his children when they are hurting, since He cares even more for His children than any earthly father could (Matthew 7:11).

John 11:35 has often been reduced to a bit of trivia in Christian circles. “What is the shortest verse in the Bible?” Answer: “Jesus wept.” But I think we often miss the context and significance of that verse. That verse is found in the chapter where Lazarus dies and Jesus returns to raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus knew that everything would “work out.” He even told Martha, Lazarus’ sister, that “Your brother will rise again.” However, when Mary, Lazarus’ other sister, came to see Jesus and Jesus saw her weeping, the Bible says that “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” and then…”Jesus wept.”

Jesus mourned alongside Mary and the other mourners. His omniscience did not keep Him from keenly feeling and experiencing the pain of His little children. In the same way, God is not distant or unfeeling toward any of His children in pain now. Instead, as a loving Father, He is “near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in Spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)


Hanging On

Posted: November 28, 2011 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, God's Goodness, Hope, Purpose, Trusting God

I think that one of the most poignant scenes in the Lord of the Rings occurs at the end of the Return of the King. The ring has finally been cast into the sea of lava in Mount Doom and Frodo dangles over the lava at the edge of the cliff, clinging with all his might to a jagged rock. He looks down as the most important object in life — the reason for his year-long journey — sinks and dissolves in the fire beneath him. Then he looks up at Sam, offering him a hand. He looks back at the ring. For a moment, it looks like he will let go…that he will follow the ring to a fiery end.

It’s that moment that always stands out to me. Frodo thought — even just for a moment — of letting go. What was going through his mind as he watched the most valuable thing in life dissolve beneath him? What could he do? He couldn’t get it back. He was faced with only two options: cling to the cliff or let go and sink below.

Recently, though, I feel like I’ve been able to understand Frodo just a bit more. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched as God has taken certain things that I have invested in and cherished in my life — just like the ring for Frodo — and has dropped them into the fires of “Mount Doom.” Some days, I feel just like Frodo…like I’m just “holding on.”

But like Frodo, I’m also faced with a decision. No, it’s not a choice between life and death, but it is a choice between hope and despair. When these trials entered my life, I couldn’t get rid of them. I couldn’t just “fix” them anymore than Frodo could prevent the ring from dissolving. But that leaves me with only two options: cling or let go.

But unlike Frodo, I’m not clinging to a rock made out of granite and dirt, I’m clinging to the Rock, my Salvation. When I lose the things that matter most to me in life, I can sink into the waves of despair or I can cling to the promises of God. I can cling to the promise that God loves me, that He will never give me more than I can bear, that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, that He knows the plans He has for me — plans to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future. These are the only sure things I can cling to, and in times of trial, these promises are what is keeping me from sinking.

I think that sometimes God gives us trials just to shake our foundation — to show us that what we’ve built our life upon can just disappear. But when we lose our footing and we need something to grab onto to keep us from sinking, He intends that we cling to Him — to that solid Rock — and His loving and everlasting promises. After all, what other option do we have?

How’s Life?

Posted: October 5, 2011 by clairer in Contentment, God's Faithfulness, God's Goodness, Trusting God

As I sat in a corner booth of my college’s dining hall, hunched over a 2-inch binder full of Supreme Court cases to memorize, I glanced up to see a friend of mine slip into the booth across from me. “How’s life treating you?” she asked as she sat down. How was I supposed to answer that? I had three midterms and a paper coming up within hours of each other this week and I was sick….how did she think life was treating me? As I bit back complaints about my exhaustion, busyness, and sickness, it occurred to me that I was looking at this question from the wrong perspective. My outlook shouldn’t have been, “How is life treating me?” Life is busy, chaotic, and far from perfect. But that’s not what matters. A better way to view this question was, “How is God treating me?”

When I mentally rephrased my friend’s question this way, my whole attitude and perspective on my life drastically shifted. I went from thinking about all the things wrong or hard in my life, to thinking about how many things were undeservedly right in my life?

How is God treating me?

He is treating me with love. He, a holy and just God, is viewing me, a rebellious sinner, through the lens of the righteousness of His Son because He loved me enough to send His son to die for me!

He is treating me with undeserved grace. I am attending a strong Christian college where I can devote myself to studying the things I love. He has surrounded me with caring friends and a loving family. He has given me generally good health, a wonderful church, and a range of opportunities. What did I do to deserve such favor? Nothing. Yet God is gracious and gives these things to me.

He is treating me with faithfulness. Before my tests, I knew that He would grant me the strength that I needed to study. During the tests, I knew He would faithfully give me remembrance. After the tests, I knew that He would grant me rest. And no matter what happened in each test, I knew that He would still be there for me when I cried to Him in prayer.

How has God been treating me? He has been treating me with goodness, kindness, and mercy.

It was with this realization that my perspective was drastically reordered. All those problems that I had to complain about earlier seemed pretty petty all of a sudden. Really, I realized, life can’t treat me that badly, because God is that good.

A Good God

Posted: September 15, 2009 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, God's Goodness, Trusting God

Imagine this: a god who picks favorites, who delights in being “mysterious,” who one minute might be blessing you and another minute striking you with lightning, a god who holds grudges, or a god who simply doesn’t care about you at all – doesn’t even look your way. What a hopeless and frightening picture that would be!

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how easy it is for us to take for granted that God is good. Something that distinguishes Christianity from other religions is that our God actually cares about us – He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. I find it so easy to treat the truth that God is good flippantly. I think, “Oh yeah, definitely God is good. I mean He’s God, why wouldn’t He be good?” But really, God is the most powerful being in the universe. If he were not a good God, then not only would we be doomed to hell (because an uncaring or evil god would never send his son to die for us), but life would be a living hell. God could make life miserable for us – it’s within his power – but his gracious love and goodness undergirds His power.

I am so thankful that God isn’t like man. If I had the power that God has, I think I would be tempted to lash out at people who hurt me or zap anyone who offends me. But God is above the petty ways of man. I am continually amazed by his love and goodness and in awe of His kindness in being our Good Shepherd.