From my observations and discussions with people who do not claim Jesus as Lord, one of the biggest barriers to faith is their inability to reconcile God’s goodness with the brokenness in our world. They do not understand how a sovereign God could allow so many horrible things to happen in this world, and in their lives.
Most Christians struggle with this, too. We cry out to God and our prayers go unanswered, and we question whether He is listening. We doubt that He cares. We question God’s goodness. Because when we are sitting in our pain, and God is silent, it’s hard to believe that He is sovereign, let alone kind.
I recently heard a pastor comment on how past generations did not struggle with this. It’s not that their lives were easier, far from it, but they didn’t view their circumstances as a commentary on God’s character. They were able to hold two truths at once: life was hard AND God was a good, loving, all-powerful God.
In today’s world, when purchases can be delivered to our house with the swipe of a finger, and surgeons perform miracles every minute of the day, it’s harder for us to accept that we cannot have everything we want, that not everything will always go our way. We turn to God as a last resort when our worldly resources have run dry, and when He doesn’t answer our prayers as we think He should, we question His ability to do so. We wonder if He is powerless, or cruel, or possibly even nonexistent.
In her book Starry-Eyed, Mandy Arrioto writes, “we try to round off the edges, to make God more palatable, pretty, civilized.” We struggle to understand a God who is captivating, but not always palatable; beautiful, yet rarely pretty; loving while also fierce and uncivilized. We fail to see ALL of who God is and it leads us to question His goodness.
My word for 2018 is Grace, and God has shown me His grace time and again as the year has unfolded. He has truly overwhelmed me with His kindness. I’ve been gifted moments of intimacy with the Lord that have been sweeter than I could ever have imagined.
It has also been an extremely difficult year for me. And in the painful moments, the doubts creep in: where is God’s grace in this moment? Where is His love? Why have my prayers remained unanswered? Why does it feel like my soul has been wrenched into pieces, like my heart is so battered and bruised?
This month’s verse draws me back to the truth about God: that He is a Warrior. He is Supreme. He is worthy of all of my praise and exaltation, even when He seems silent. He hears each prayer, and even when His answers are unclear, I can trust that He loves me and has my best interest in mind. In calm and in storm, I will praise His name.