“The enemy wants you to put a question mark where there should be a period.” This statement may sound a bit strange to some, but these are the very words the Lord dropped into my heart as I wrestled with various events in my life that I believed should have painted a prettier picture. I was blessed with an analytical mind that loves to dissect an issue and use human reasoning to hopefully bring a conclusion and closure to my findings. But, because God’s ways are beyond human reason and His thoughts cover a vast amount of time, my best efforts always fall short to bring about answers to some of my deepest thought out questions.
I have been secretly struggling with the same old question for years, “If God is good then why?”-This question has wreaked havoc with my faith and has kept me from trusting God whole-heartedly. I don’t question if God is there, but I have definitely questioned His character when bad things happen where He is.
That is until recently, when Lord pointed out to me that the question I have been pondering all this time, begins with the very word “IF” that Satan uses when he wants to create doubt about the goodness of God and more importantly the sovereignty of God. Satan’s number one goal in a believer’s life is to plant questions about God’s character as to distract from the truth of God’s word. Scribbling the word sovereignty into my journal like one who hides a found treasure, I noticed a small word tucked within the center-reign. God’s supreme power and authority reigns over all the earth-he is in control even when things are spinning out of control. I felt like Paul during his conversion when something like scales fell from his eyes. I was watching as a stronghold in my life was broken down with the truth of God’s word!
If you have ever studied atheism or been around any one that denies God’s existence, you have probably heard this question, “If God is so good, then why do bad things happen?” Or, If God is so good, then why doesn’t he stop the suffering or evil in the world?” I cringe at the thought of not believing there is a God, but each time I refuse to accept that God is good even when bad things happen, I am adopting an atheistic attitude and have ceased believing one of the most common verses that confirms the sovereignty of God, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God, and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 This was a sobering thought to me-as one that struggles to believe that God is good all the time. Sure, it’s easy to believe in the goodness of God when your marriage is a fairy tale-free of conflict, bank accounts are overflowing, and kids are serving God, loving others and respecting their parents. But, this is certainly not an accurate or realistic picture in this world we live in-or maybe to some it hits the mark.
I have wasted far too much time and brain cells analyzing the “why” of everything around me. So, this week it was brought to my attention with strong conviction-I have not settled the matter in my mind, or should I say, I have not won the battle that Satan waged against my mind years ago. The devil does not go easily, and this battle is not won without armor! The invisible battle is between my ears and it is time to settle this matter once and for all! God is good PERIOD-no matter what I see around me. God’s character does not change, nor does the truth of God’s word fail. It is my failing to put on my armor and proclaim the truth that God is good even when bad things happen.
Satan uses the word “WHY” to bring God’s character into question, and because Satan uses deception as a weapon of choice, this is the perfect word to redirect our perspective in the wrong direction. We all know the story of Adam and Eve. Satan puts the goodness of God into question. Any time we think that God is holding out on us or we are not receiving what we think we deserve, we question how good God really is. For me, God’s goodness has never been solidified- it has always been contingent on how I viewed my reality or whether or not I was performing good enough to please God. Talk about a little backwards believing!
Our beliefs can get shipwrecked when God’s truth crashes over us like a wave-so was the case with me. I believed that God did good, but struggled to believe God was good, unless I was better. The very character of God is unchangeable, God doesn’t just do good – GOOD is who He is! God doesn’t just love-He is LOVE! You get the idea.
This was news to me as the battle raged on as I have tried to understand suffering, tragedy and pre-mature dying. I desperately wanted to understand WHY, but God revealed to me that my struggle to understand diminishes when I settle the truth in my heart-GOD IS GOOD.
The world’s system has created it’s own set of rules and regulations but God’s system is what created the world and God’s system is built on truth that does not change due to unforeseen circumstances. The truth does not fail me; rather it is my perspective that changes God’s character when addressing unanswered questions of unmet expectations.
Throughout the Bible there are stories of people like you and me that endured unfavorable circumstances but never endured defeat. The story of Gideon is one of my favorite-an ordinary guy that poses the question that has caused me to stumble over my own faith, “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Judges 6:13
There’s that word “If” that cries out for an explanation for the misfortune encamping around them. So, as I look back throughout some of the heartbreaking moments in my own life, and I take inventory of some of the horrific tragedies in our world, the words from a sovereign God ring true, “You are placing a question mark where you should be placing a period.” What I find interesting is that God did not give Gideon a direct answer to his question, rather he reaffirms his power and sovereignty to Gideon as he gives instruction “Go in the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you! Judges 6:14 God’s desire is that we learn to trust his heart, even when we cannot see his hand at work in our lives. Just like Gideon, I want an explanation to unfavorable conditions. We will never know if Gideon continued rolling that question around in his mind, but we do know that an unanswered question did not stop him from obeying God’s direction and putting his complete trust in God’s goodness, “going in the strength that God gave him.”
If we take a look at Jesus’ final moments as he hung on a cross-badly bruised, bleeding, and ridiculed by many, we definitely see a place where a punctuation mark could have changed the whole story for us. It is finished? Or, It is finished! Those that looked upon that horrific scene had to be wondering what would be next, and most believed that Jesus’ death was the period to that story. A punctuation mark has the power to change our perspective and the story we are reading. As we know, it was definitely not the end when Jesus took his last breath the-it was a new beginning that many had yet to see!
The true battle for me is reminding myself that there must always be a period at the end of this sentence, “God is good.” And as I grow in my faith I will challenge myself to change the punctuation mark one last time to exclaim to those I meet even during the challenges I may face now and will face in the future, “GOD IS GOOD!”
What about you? Are there stories hidden in your heart that need a punctuation change?
“The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:9