I was exposed to a virus that attacks the lungs, and within three days, I had contracted pneumonia. It took six weeks of antibiotics, steroids, and breathing treatments before I could breathe pain-free. Too sick to even read, all I could do was sleep and watch TV. And I have to admit, for a brief moment, I found myself wrestling with the question, "Is God good?"
We know from reading God's Word that He is in control of everything. There are numerous verses saying God loves us and is aware of every aspect of our lives. He even knows every thought we have. Because of that, it's easy to look at all the suffering in the world and question the goodness of God. How can anyone be good if they can stop suffering yet choose not to?
If God is in control, is He good when a child dies? Is He good when bill collectors aggressively try to collect money that isn't there? Is God good when the cancer comes back? Is He good when He allows a beloved parent to lose their mental capacities to dementia? So many believers wonder when they see suffering if God is good but are scared to ask the question for fear God will strike them with lightning.
For many years, I lived with questions like this but never went to God with my questions for fear of what I would find. I was afraid I would learn that everything I had believed to be true about God would be wrong and I would be left with a shattered view of who God really is. Yet I finally reached a point where my need for answers overpowered my fears, and what I found surprised me. My faith wasn't weakened for asking the question, "Is God really a good God?" Rather, my faith grew by leaps and bounds. I found many instances throughout Scripture that showed just how good God really is. But my favorite has to be Job. At the end of the book of Job, Job is frustrated and angry at God for allowing him to endure so much suffering. After listening to him rant for a long time, God responds to Job's accusations and gives him example after example so that Job will know just how big and good God really is. Job learned the same valuable lesson that I learned when I went to God in search of answers. Suffering is never enjoyable, but we can be encouraged and strengthened because no matter what we go through God is with us and He cares.
Because I was so sick over the past six weeks, I was unable to stay in touch with those of you who read this. During the past week, I've been able to speak to a good number of you and I've learned that many of you are glad to leave February behind just as I am. Although you may not be questioning the goodness of God, I do know from our conversations that you are wrestling with questions of your own. I challenge you to go to God with your questions. Spend time searching Scripture and praying for answers. God is a big God and He can handle your questions. Never forget that He loves you more than we can ever comprehend.
"So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as His children? My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline, but don't be crushed by it either. It's the child He loves that He disciplines; the child He embraces, He also corrects. God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God." ~ Hebrews 12:5-11 (The Message)
(c) March 14, 2012