I think a lot of what we believe about God rests on what we think about His gifts. More specifically, what we think about Him as a gift-giver.
Or a gift with-holder.
Whether we see or experience God as cruel…generous…selective…unpredictable….our reasoning is probably rooted in our blessings and our misfortunes–what we believe He has given us, taken away from us, or withheld from us.
I know people who have changed their entire view of who God is based on one event.
Something huge that changed the trajectory of their life. Often something they had little to no control of. And in the feelings of devastation and helplessness, their view of God shifted. No longer could He be good.
To experience brokenness while God seemingly stood idly by must mean that He is not all-powerful and does not have good intentions for our lives.
The age old question is asked over and over again–“If God is good, how could He let _________ happen?”
And honestly….I get it.
I’ve asked that question before, too.
Bitterness and blame are often the first two to show up at the front door after a life-changing, dream-shattering tragedy happens; if they aren’t sent packing, they will make their homes in our hearts and our relationships…especially our relationship with a God who is supposed to be “in control” but doesn’t seem to have a good grip on things.
Or maybe it wasn’t one, big thing that happened to us, but rather so many small things. Maybe it’s the money we didn’t have growing up, or the strained relationship our parent’s always had. It could be the amount of college debt we graduated with or the way relationships just always seem to be harder for us. We can’t find the right job or the right person to marry or get a good grip on parenting.
And maybe those little things didn’t necessarily change our relationship with God, but rather prevent us from really having one.
A real one, that is.
Maybe we keep God at the surface level of our life. We ask Him for good things yet expect to be continually disappointed. We’ll pop into church, keep relationships at arms lengths, and pad ourselves so that our wounds and our wants don’t become too obvious.
It’s hard to want out loud. It’s vulnerable to let our desires out. To open ourselves up to be let down if we don’t get the things we’ve been longing for.
Because we want good things (mostly), noble things, things for our families and for ourselves. Gifts that will bless and enhance our life. And watching other people get those things while we come up empty handed feels like a punch in the gut.
What we have or don’t have lined up next to what they have or don’t have can make us bitter, ungrateful, and absolutely sure this isn’t what we deserve.
You’ll see this blatantly displayed at a kid’s birthday party. A mountain of gifts for one kid out of the whole group.
At least kids don’t try to pretend it’s okay; they’re pretty straight forward about how they feel about watching their friend take home a truck load of gifts while they go home with a sugar buzz and a kazoo (I don’t have kids so my analogy could be about 20 years outdated #imgettingold).
As we grow up we may not say it our loud, but it’s still hard to shake that question…where IS mine?
Why did this happen to me?
When am I going to catch a break?
And a lot of little things not going our way is not on the same scale as a devastating loss, but regardless of the magnitude, disappointment adds up.
And here we are, coming up short, wondering where God is in all of this.
While I believe deeply and wholeheartedly in the goodness of God, I also believe His goodness is something that ca be taught, but is only really learned through experiences. And sometimes to experience that we need a change in our perspective.
But before we can even begin to talk about perspective, we have to pry our fingers off the white-knuckled grip we have on our entitlement. Because as long as we have that, nothing we get will ever be good enough.
Entitlement will never end in satisfaction. Ever.
Gifts–both tangible and intangible–point us to deeper longings and desires.
How many stories have you heard of people getting exactly what they wanted…only to be left wanting.
That marriage that didn’t live up to the expectations it began with.
Having kids didn’t fill the void.
Jobs, houses, promotions, success, a relationship, a mended friendship.
We never get these things and find that we don’t want anything else. Because no matter how fantastic the gift is, I truly believe our heart longs for a relationship with the Giver.
I do not have an answer to the “how could God let this happen” kind of questioning. Because I look around and see poverty and hunger, inequality and depravity and things that are so very very wrong. It’s hard to talk about these things without a perfect resolve, without an answer that both satisfies, heals and make sense of the things that are without reason.
I have experienced devastating loss. I have had my heart put through the ringer. I have looked at all the pieces praying for them to be made whole again.
I still want. I still have things that I am longing for. I still struggle with comparison and wonder where mine is.
But in all of this…in the wanting and the waiting….in the all of the discontentment and the entitlement, I believe God is still in it, and God is still good.
His patience with us is incredible, his gifts weren’t meant to replace Him, and I just can’t help but wonder how our wants would change if we saw the big picture. To believe in God’s goodness is not to live a life without struggle; it’s to embrace a life with deep meaning and purpose that extends beyond our realm of understanding.
I pray you find God in your wanting. That you see Him in your heartbreak. And that you come to know Him in a genuinely deep way that doesn’t necessarily fix all the things that have been broken and lost in your life, but that replaces them with healing and hope.
Because even when we can’t see it, even when we want to question it or argue it or turn from it, may we be people who say over and over again…
God is good.
All the time.
And all the time
God is good.