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God’s Goodness When Things Aren’t Good

 

Before I jump into this post, I have to tell you, I am no theologian. Bear with me…This is my feeble attempt at understanding and living out a verse that has caused me a fair amount of confusion.

Romans 8:28 is a verse I have struggled mightily with. It says:

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Let me tell you about the image that came to my mind when I first read this verse as a new follower of Christ at age 18 or 19. I legitimately pictured myself walking down a busy street. All around me, chaos. The scene was almost cartoonish. I strolled along, blissfully unaware of the falling flowerpots that missed my head by mere inches, fire hydrants bursting open seconds after I walked by, cars swerving out of control but miraculously avoiding me. It was pouring down rain, but I had a little ray of sunshine following me around…You get the idea. There was chaos, but God was working it all together for my wellbeing, my safety, and my good.

 

Okay, that’s ridiculous. That is obviously not how God works. Even I, as I pictured this scene, knew that wasn’t what the verse meant. But just because I knew that my interpretation wasn’t right didn’t mean that I understood what the verse was actually saying.

 

Fast forward to 2016. I had already been sick for some time. I was working part-time as a barista, dissatisfied with where I was at, but unable to make the changes I wanted to make. Looking for hope in the midst of my despair, I stumbled upon this verse. Reading it, I thought to myself that although I was hurting and angry and physically weak, God would turn the situation around and use it for something good. In my mind, that meant healing. It meant using my experiences with sickness to positively impact others, once I was well. Maybe I would become a doctor (once I was well)! Or a medical interpreter who would be an advocate for those who could not advocate for themselves (once I was well)! Or I would train therapy dogs for chronically ill people (once I was well)!

 

Are you seeing a trend? “Good” in my eyes meant healthy. It also meant being productive by society’s standards and positively impacting others…but mostly it meant healthy. I was so sure that God was good, and in His goodness, he would make me well.

 

Fast forward to today. I am not well, and in the past few months, I’ve been faced with the reality that I may not ever be. Confronted with this possibility, I’ve been left to decide if God is indeed still good.

 

This morning, The Lord and I had a chat as I mulled over whether or not He was holding out on me. I confronted Him and told him about all the good things He was keeping from me. As I listed off all the “goods” I was being deprived of, I envisioned what my life could be. I would have a career. I’d have tons of friends. I’d go hiking and camping every weekend and would travel frequently. I’d be confident in myself and my abilities. I would be recognized for the work I did. …And I would probably have the same surface-level relationship I’d always had with God where I thanked Him for the food in my belly and not much else, never growing, never changing, always complacent with my lukewarm faith.

 

Is God still good when things are not “good?” Yes.

 

Will circumstances always be “good” because God is good? No.

 

God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, and God’s ways are not my ways. Similarly, God’s definition of “good” is not my definition of “good.” My idea of good is shortsighted. God’s idea of good is focused on eternity. My idea of good places my own immediate comfort above all. God’s idea of good involves sacrificing His own Son so that I can partake in the Kingdom of Heaven, despite the fact that I was never “good” on my own.

 

And even in moments of pain, exhaustion, weakness, fatigue, confusion, or fear, I have to agree that His is the goodest good of all.

 

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6 thoughts on “God’s Goodness When Things Aren’t Good

  1. Mandy,
    I am in Scott’s Rock Steady Boxing class. I have read your blog and admire your courage, determination and honesty. I wish the solution could be as easy as recommending that you eat a Snickers bar. I guess that’s too much to expect. I will, however, demonstrate my medical ignorance and ask have the experts considered Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? A friend in Maryland suffers from it and has symptoms similar to yours. Just thought I’d ask. You are in our thoughts. God’s speed and best of luck.

    Jim Drewry

    1. Boy, I wish it were as easy as eating a Snicker’s too! Wouldn’t that be nice? Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has been mentioned a time or so in my appointments, and I believe I technically meet the diagnostic criteria. Unfortunately, the diagnostic criteria are pretty vague, so we’re being as thorough as possible to rule out everything else, a long and frustrating process! I appreciate your well wishes and suggestions (if you’ve got any more, let me hear ’em!). I’m really looking forward to my next visit to TN so I can come back and watch another Rock Steady class! You all are amazing and truly an inspiration!

  2. Mandy… this is irene, Peggy’s friend. I will pray for God to send you in the direction of the right dr. I have read your dad’s blog today. And i believe he wants prayers for you. God bless..

  3. I am praying for you! I trusted Christ when I was 11. I, too, have to cling to Romans 8:28 and the FACT of God’s goodness in the midst of the messes of life. I’ve raised 5 kids and things haven’t always gone the way I hoped they would.
    My husband has PD and had DBS surgery 2 years ago, which has gone well for him. He attends the boxing class with your dad. I’m praying for your dad’s upcoming surgery to go well this time!
    I am going to share your blog in hopes that someone will be able to help.

    1. Nancy, thank you so much for your kind words and prayers. I suppose things rarely do go as we’d hoped or planned, but you’re right. God is bigger than our messes! It is such an encouragement to hear about successful DBS surgeries, thank you for sharing!

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