I’m not an optimism hater, I promise. If you know me, then you know that I love to laugh and have fun and I have been given many amazing moments that I would consider really good. But recently, one of my mentors brought up a great point as we were discussing life. She said, “you know that saying “Life is Good”? Well it’s not true. Life is Hard. But, God is good.” I just sat there for a minute, taking the truth of that statement in. Life can be so hard sometimes, can’t it? Now, it’s probably not going to sell thousands of t-shirts like the Jacob’s brother’s much more optimistic message would, but I think it’s realistic and worth taking a few minutes to ponder.
Just this week, friends of mine are fighting major illness, seeing their special need’s children through major surgeries, moving, enveloped by depression and being forced to trust God with the intimate details of their lives. Two friends had tiny babies in the hospital, others are struggling in their marriages. And those are just my friends.
I realize this may be more of a philosophical discussion than a theological one, but I’m pretty sure the apostle Paul would tell you the same thing. When Paul was imprisoned and beaten to near-death for spreading the good news of Jesus, his motto probably wasn’t “Life is good”. Noah was scorned for building a huge boat that took him years and years to build as he obediently prepared to save a remnant. I’m pretty sure he didn’t chant “Life is good” as every friend and neighbor he ever knew beat the doors of the ark until they drowned for their disobedience. When Jesus was beaten and hung to die on a cross for my sins, I know he didn’t utter the words, “Life is good”.
When I think life should be good, I find myself disappointed and frustrated. Life is often so difficult and if I think it’s supposed to be “so good” then I wonder what I must be doing wrong. Does God owe me good days? Are my children and I to always be healthy, wealthy and wise? Or instead, are these ideas something that culture has fed me to get through a bad season and I’ve bought into them?
Here are a few things that God’s Word says about this life:
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. James 4:14
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
“The abundant life, huh? Well why did God allow ___________?”
I won’t pretend to have the answers to whatever has caused you to doubt God’s goodness in your life. And I can’t tell you why someone else may have chosen to disobey Him, causing your life absolute misery. What I can tell you though, is what I’ve experienced and read, which is, that God will do whatever it takes to get your undivided attention. He will allow you, even as a Christian, or should I say, especially as a Christian, to go through any means necessary to cause your heart to be dependent on Him.
I believe He cares very little about life just being “good” or “easy”. We are “aliens and strangers” here.. or have we forgotten? We’re so busy building our dreams and setting up our futures that we’ve forgotten our purpose for this life: To be on mission bringing others to Jesus and to bring God glory through our lives.
God uses our difficulties to draw us closer to Him, develop perseverance and character and ultimately glorify Himself through it.
It might not sell t-shirts, but I’ll adopt its truth and I’ll teach it to my kids as well. Not that there aren’t amazing moments that will blow us away, but I need to know that when life is hard, God is still good.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5