When God Doesn’t Feel Good: The Antidote
Suffering doesn’t take a day off. Chances are, if it is not affecting you today, it is affecting someone you know. And when this is the experience, it can be easy to blame God. #suffering #pain #sorrow #grief #whereisGod
Blaming God for suffering might seem reasonable if we believe He is the one pulling the strings that control all things and people. I do things that God has absolutely not ordained – I sin. Because it would be in complete opposition to His Holiness to cause me to sin, it is impossible that God caused me to behave sinfully. I have personal choice. So it stands to reason that God doesn’t control the course of events like a puppeteer because He does not control me like a puppeteer. It’s not the other extreme either — He is not oblivious and uninvolved or uncaring. Somehow, He manages to steer the course of history from heavenly heights and perspective while allowing us complete freedom to choose. #HeisGod #freewill
Obviously, God allows suffering in the lives of people He dearly loves — the prime example being the extreme suffering and death of His own Son who was later resurrected. (And therein lies our hope.) And only for our benefit, not His own. So, I certainly cannot reasonably expect to be spared suffering.
As people of God, we will suffer. It is a promise. (John 16:33)
I can’t tell y’all how many times I’ve thought, “what’s wrong with those stupid Israelites … after all God has brought them through and done for them … how could they forget ….”
Well, I’m just like them. Maybe you are too.
We are forgetful. When we are in the middle of suffering, we often forget the multitude of times we experienced pleasure, blessing, and God’s favor. This present unpleasantness feels like it outweighs all the previous goodness, and even makes it hard to remember there ever was any goodness!
Trusting feelings is tricky. And often misleading. Therefore, God directed His people to erect memorials of His favor, deliverance, and blessings (Genesis 28:10-22, Joshua 4:1-8, 1 Samuel 7:7-12). Those memorials were intended to be reminders of His goodness, faithfulness, and love when things looked hopeless and felt very painful. God knew the good times wouldn’t last forever and wanted His people to have ready reminders. #reminders #remember #faithfulness
We can acknowledge pain, sadness, and grief without forgetting God’s faithfulness. We can be real and honest with God about our suffering. The key is turning toward God and recalling His faithful goodness in the middle of our pain. The Psalms model this beautifully. Psalm 77 and many others example how to be honest about suffering and verbally process it and recall God’s loving kindness. The psalmist does not minimize his hurt; he is honest with God about how hard and unfair it all seems. He also glorifies God by declaring His faithfulness — it is a reminder that this is not where the story ends. #honestemotions #tellGod #cryout
As people of God, it is essential that we too create memorials of God’s goodness and favor that are tangible and visible and retrievable when we encounter seasons of suffering. Here are a few ideas:
Journaling is a great way to memorialize God’s goodness in our lives — something tangible to look back on and remember when the tides change. #journal
Gratitude is another way of memorializing how God is presently providing even in times of great suffering. It can be very difficult to engage in these things when it feels like we are drowning in grief that feels all consuming. It is so worth it also. #gratitude
Pray for God to show up in ways that remind you of His love and kindness toward you and then look for and expect them, record them#freewill and thank Him. #pray
Worship Him in song – speak or sing the words of praise to Him. Even through tears, I cannot remain in darkness when I declare praise for God in song and word. The words we speak aloud and in our heads matter and direct our hearts to follow. #worship #speaklife
Let’s begin the practice of memorializing the goodness of God so we have that tangible, visible reminders of His incredible and undeserved favor and love for us. #memorials