Recently I got an email from a lady who asked two very big questions about God. I too had these questions in the past so I wanted to let her know how I reconciled them with my faith:
I enjoy your thought provoking questions on FB. I’m afraid to post my questions on my personal wall as I’m a pastor’s wife.
I’ve been struggling with this quite a bit for a while. The questions are…
Is God still good even when a situation doesn’t work out the way you thought or imagined? Or is God still good when the situation turns out worse than you desired?
This has been difficult for me to work through.
Here is my response to her. If you think there is something I missed or you have other thoughts, please feel free to comment.
This is a question that has plagued me as well. So, you are not alone. I am no theologian, but here is where I landed on it. First, either you believe God is good or He is not. He is either a loving God or a complete narcissist. Once you settle that, you can move on. I decided he was a good God so from there, I had to accept that I am not God and my ways are not His ways. For me, I had to learn to be OK with the fact that I will not have all the answers and the God who made volcanoes doesn’t necessarily owe me an explanation. For the record, I use to think He did.
Once I got who was in control settled and that His character was good, I could then deal with specific situations. It really came down to a matter of perspective. For example, when someone we love dies, it is our worst day but when they meet God, it is there best day. So to us, death is painful and seemingly final but to God, it is not the same. Also, He experienced loss with Jesus going to the cross and He did not spare Him the pain so, why would I expect things to be any different for me. It is actually good to know that God was also a man and knows pain and loss. That helps me see Him in a more personal way.
When prayers are not answered in the way I think they should be answered, it doesn’t mean that God is not listening. It simply is a reflection of the fact that I only see a small part of the bigger picture. I have no idea how God uses the pain in life to bring people to Him. That is His ultimate goal. So for me, I pray for specific things and for understanding or peace if the outcome looks different than I would have designed.
The final part of my journey was looking at how I prayed. Was I praying for an outcome that made sense or made me feel better or was I praying for an outcome that would bring people to God?
In the end I have determined there are things I am just not going to know and I have made peace with that but, it took years for me to get to that place.
I hope this helps you in some way. I really appreciate the questions and I believe God does too. He is big enough for our doubts when we bring them to Him.
That is why one of my favorite stories in the Bible is the guy who asks Jesus to heal his child. He believes Jesus can do it but there is still a little doubt. He tells Jesus he believes but in the same breath says “but help me in my unbelief” and that gives me comfort because I can still be that guy sometimes.