Thursday, November 20, 2014

Not What You Think It Means

Lately, I've been wrestling with the whole 'God is good' thing.

By lately I mean the last several months, maybe even years.

I know that God, by his very nature, is holy. I know that God is omnipotent. I know that God is awesome, not in the surfer dude sense of the word, but in the Creator of the Universe way.

But good?  I'm not always so certain.

I struggle to believe that God is good when the world is the way that it is: broken.

As I delve deeper into my faith, questions about who God is come up.  I think this is natural, I think it is faith building.  I also find it painful, annoying, and lonely. I find myself going to bed and thinking on these things for a long time. I wake up very early and ponder my questions, recalling stories from the Bible as anecdote.

During the times when I question, even doubt, the only thing I know to do is to search scripture and spend lots of time in conversation with Jesus. It is vital to me, as a Christ follower, that I be able to say with absolute confidence that I believe that God is good. I do not think that my faith is weak when I am uncertain. Now that I am on the other side I recognize that moments of doubt lead up to moments of huge growth.

Still, it's not pleasant.  It involves gnashing of the teeth, pulling of the hair, sleepless nights, and driving the ones I love a little crazy with questions.

I had a conversation with God to clear things up.  It went like this:

Me:  "God, are you good?  When I say it do I believe it?  Are you good while this earth spins away on it's axis?  Are you good while parents kill their babies in the name of rights?  Are you good while children are sold into slavery of the worst kind?  Are you good while people are killed in wars that will never end?  Are you good while terrorism rises up and normal seems to shrink?  Are you good while we struggle away to be more like you, dying in the process?  Are you?"

God:  "This word good that you keep you using, I do not think it means what you think it means."


Okay, so God does not actually talk to me in Inigo Montoya's voice (but that would be so cool!), but I did feel directed to look up the word good.  So I did.

Here's what said:

good: morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious

Um, yeah, that fits. God is good.

I shared with a friend this whole conversation. She smiled and said, "You thought good meant nice."

nice: pleasing; agreeable; delightful


Good does not equal nice. Although I do believe that God is delightful, pleasing and agreeable are where I get hung up. I see, too, that it where my problems stemmed from. I began to wrongly think that God should agree with my plan on how things should go, that he should change the meaning of the word good to mean 'compliant'. 

It appears that God's plan for the world is a little different than my plan.

You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail.
Proverbs 16:9 NLT

My plan would involve the purpose of a good life, while God's plan has the purpose of relationship with him.  This is when I start to realize that when Jesus says we will lose our lives I know he means it. I follow a God who sent his son to live as a man, to be betrayed, and to die on a cross all so that we, you and I, could have a relationship with him. 

God is good, but that does not mean he is a genie mean to grant my wishes. I am important to him, but my plans for a good life mean nothing in comparison to his purpose of Redemption.

 Actually, it is not that my plans mean nothing to God, but that His purpose means everything

1 comment:

  1. Kara,

    Those are deep thoughts and honest wrestlings. I have wrestled with those terms too, and I like your Princess Bride definitions. It's true. God's goodness looks different than what we sometimes might first want to use. He is not a tame God, but his heart can be trusted, huh?

    Re your comment on my post "For When You Wonder If You're Seen," thank you for your honesty, Kara. We need that more in today's world, huh? It IS hard work rekindling a marriage. I know that God is fighting and working alongside you. I love that he is a God who fights for us, and has transformative power!

    Excited with you for your relationship too,
    Jennifer Dougan