How God Is Good When Life Is Bad
At times, I’ve felt like the Psalmist who cries, “How long, O Lord?” How bad are things going to get down here before You step in? How can I even make a bit of difference in all that’s going wrong?
Many of us feel uneasy when it becomes obvious that this life is not all sunshine and silver linings. Sometimes people suffer. Sometimes people are mistreated. Sometimes people die too young when other people still need them. And it all seems so unfair.
Swallowing a bitter pill
I’m a person who likes to take action. So when I experience these kinds of internal crises, my mind immediately goes to this question: “What can I do?”
Here are three things Christians can do when life feels unfair, unkind or out of control:
1. Run to God’s goodness.
Many of the Psalms lament how bad things are in the world. Sometimes I forget that this is not a new phenomenon! But God’s goodness is proclaimed over and over. In a world where bad things happen, God is there faithfully showing goodness to His people.
Psalm 31:19 says, “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!” How encouraging — God has a surplus of goodness with my name on it!
When I see all of the pain and suffering around me, my focus can shift away from my good God onto this bad world. But Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” In the midst of life’s problems, God’s goodness is abundant and easy to spot if I’m paying attention.
2. Live with purpose.
The pastor of our church was recently declared to be in remission from a rare and aggressive form of cancer. His first Sunday back, he talked about how being diagnosed with a deadly disease at a relatively young age had shifted his perspective. “I want to wake up every day and ask God, ‘What do you have for me to do today?’” he said.
He also shared this passage from James: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
With all the tragedies in the world, it’s easy to feel shaken when we realize that it could all be over in an instant. We don’t want to think of our lives as a vanishing mist, but it is wise to do so. Tomorrow is not promised to any one of us, so we should live with urgency, “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)
3. Trust when you cannot see.
Scripture tells us that as finite humans we only glimpse a part of the picture. The Apostle Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8: “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
When life on this planet seems to be getting worse and worse, either globally or personally, I can trust that much more is going on than I can see. God is working His big plan of redemption in ways I couldn’t possibly pick up on. Paul experienced many devasting hardships, including beatings, betrayals, imprisonments and a shipwreck, and yet he says, “We are always of good courage” because “we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Truth for a weary heart
Ultimately my faith should not depend on my feelings. God is in control, and I have to keep in mind that my perceptions and knowledge are extremely limited. Still, the not-so-good life will get me down sometimes. And when it does, I can trust that God is present and will provide me with all I need in this life.
So if you’ve had a few rough weeks (or months) like me, be of good courage! We walk by faith, not by sight. A lot is wrong in the world, but one day our God and Savior will make all things right. I’m looking forward to that day.
Copyright 2019 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, who is a family pastor, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.