What Good Is God?

 

faith in good+

 

What good is God?

This may sound like a startling question, but if our lives aren’t what we expected, if our cherished dreams aren’t coming true, if our prayers are seemingly unanswered, many of us will ask that very question at some point – or maybe you have already.

A dear friend recently walked away from faith with that question on her lips. What good does God do for us anyway?

Her newfound atheism is based on her experience. To her, ‘You go to church, read the Bible, believe in Jesus and try to live by godly principles. But when life comes crashing down around you and you sincerely cry out for help, God is strangely silent. He doesn’t help at all. So you begin to wonder if he ever was real in the first place. The Bible sounds like nonsense and Christianity looks like a massive hoax that in the end delivers nothing but empty promises. It gives people false hope. And that is the cruelest part of all.’

Have you heard that line of thinking before? Or more importantly, do you feel that way yourself? Did you build your life on a faith that you assumed was strong, only to find that what you were counting on, namely prayer answered swiftly in accordance with your will, feels more like a mirage than an oasis? Are you tired of hoping and waiting because you’re not sure what you’re hoping and waiting for anyway? Maybe it’s easier not to believe and just to play the cards you were dealt without waiting for a miracle. That way you won’t be disappointed. And you’ll be in control of your own life.

If those words resonate with you, I understand, at least partially, how you feel. I have not walked away from my faith, but I have felt let down by God. Wondered where he was. Felt my prayers bouncing off the walls.

I thought that the only way God could make things right was to change my circumstances. My prayer list was made up of the things I wanted God to change. Change my circumstances. Change my relationships. Change my health. Make it all better.

And so when it didn’t happen, I questioned God. Why didn’t he answer my sincere prayers?

But what was strangely missing from my prayer list was asking God to change me. Perhaps I should have been asking him to help me accept the hand I was dealt -not because God couldn’t bring a miracle but because maybe, just maybe, God was going to use that very hand for my best. Perhaps he chose every card purposefully. To bring me joy. To draw me to himself. To bring him glory.

It was when I realized that changed circumstances were not his greatest blessings that my perspective changed.

I saw that perhaps the biggest miracle of all would be to want Jesus more than I wanted a comfortable life. That I would see that his work in me and my fellowship with him as the real prizes, the real gifts God bestows in this life. That walking with him, being changed by him, being in love with him, were far more precious than anything else he could possibly give me.

So I want to say to my friend, “Please don’t give up. I know it’s hard to trust what you cannot see. Don’t stop talking to God. Cry out to him to answer. But ask him to show you what his greatest treasures are. Ask him to give you eyes of faith. Ask him to show you that often his most loving answer can look wholly different from what you imagined. While God’s timing may seem horrible and it may feel like he doesn’t care, the opposite is actually true.”

So back to the question, “What good is God?” It depends on what you treasure.

For those of us who are looking for God to miraculously deliver us out of hard situations so our dreams can come true here on earth, we may ask that question repeatedly until we finally walk away in disbelief. Because if a blissful, easier life is our goal, we will always be disappointed. Life will never measure up to our expectations and sometimes our dreams will turn into nightmares. And if we think God’s job is to give us what we want, perhaps we are looking for a magic genie, not a God to be worshipped.

But if we accept that only Jesus will bring lasting joy in this life, if we believe that heaven will exceed our dreams, and if we trust that God is orchestrating everything for our best, then we will find the Lord incredibly precious. We will fall down before him in worship and gratitude. No matter what our circumstances.

I will keep praying for my friend. Interceding on her behalf. Asking God that the eyes of her heart would be enlightened so that she would know the hope to which he calls us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for those who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19). I know faith and trust are gifts. And mysteries. We can’t possess them unless God gives them to us. I am begging God to give them to her.

I want her to see the absolute beauty and goodness of God. To understand that this life will be over in the twinkling of an eye and to believe God has eternity to show us the immeasurable riches of his grace. And then we will see it was all worth it.

We will find that God has indeed been extravagantly good to us. Better than we deserve. For “no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

 

  • March 30, 2017 - 7:01 pm

    Oseias Rodrigues Feitosa Junior - Hi Vaneetha I am a member of a reformed Presbyterian church here in Brazil. Also I run and write for a Christian blog. We have a good team made of a group of young men and women.
    I recently started to follow you on facebook after reading a text and watching a video posted on desiring God from John Piper.
    Your words really touched me and as they are powerful in God’s words. Wish other people that are non english speakers could also read what you have being writing. So I’m here to ask if you can authorize me to translate and publish some of your texts in portuguese on my blog cristourbano.
    May God keep blessing your work and words and thoughts!ReplyCancel

    • March 31, 2017 - 10:49 am

      Vaneetha - So glad this was helpful! You are welcome to translate this for the blog cristourbano. If you email me at vaneetharendall@gmail.com, I can give you the “used with permission” info I usually give people who repost my writing on the internet.ReplyCancel

  • March 31, 2017 - 7:51 am

    Tamlyn - Thank you for this beautiful, uncomfortable, hard-hitting, and powerful post.ReplyCancel

    • March 31, 2017 - 10:50 am

      Vaneetha - So glad this was helpful! Thanks for writing.ReplyCancel

  • March 31, 2017 - 9:29 am

    John B - I enjoyed this very much. I know I need to hold things with an open hand and not with a closed grip on my wants.ReplyCancel

    • March 31, 2017 - 10:52 am

      Vaneetha - I need to do the same thing, John! I often have a closed grip on my wants and God has to pry my fingers open!ReplyCancel

  • March 31, 2017 - 9:36 am

    Cynthia Burgess - Thank you, lovely Vaneetha, for more difficult truth that nudges me closer to the savior, our precious Lord Jesus. I plan to share this with my Bible study ladies. When we pray for others aloud, I’ve noticed, we seem to always ask God to smooth the way and give them the best outcome ( no pain, no tears, no struggles). This year I have been trying to shift the focus from asking God to “fix it” and move to asking God to open their eyes to see how God will “use it” to change the ones they are praying for, to change themselves (including me!), into the person who desires God above all else. I see Him working in this area! It is hard to change prayer habits that have taken years to form, but God uses willing hearts!
    I have shared many of your writings with the ladies, and I am deeply grateful for your honesty and vulnerability. Thank you. Keep writing!ReplyCancel

    • March 31, 2017 - 10:55 am

      Vaneetha - I so agree Cynthia. I do the same thing- my prayers, especially public ones, are so focused on God fixing the problem that I don’t pray that God would use it. Thank you for that reminder!ReplyCancel

  • March 31, 2017 - 12:31 pm

    Crystal - Awesome commentary Vaneetha. I so wish more ministers would preach messages like this instead of constantly intermingling faith with aspiring to achieve earthly prosperity, success, money, connections, comfort etc… Life is extremely hard and oftentimes there is no easy fix or answer for the various pains we have to go through. It can be so hard to reconcile these difficult pains of life with a good God, but that is exactly what faith calls us to do… to look beyond our circumstances and lean not unto our own understanding… to place our confidence in God (and specifically in his character and wisdom) and in the fact that he always loves us and he always knows what is best for us even if he doesn’t take away the pain and leaves the thorns in our earthly lives. He sees our end from our beginning and he knows that all the pains we go through in this life will be worth it when we get to live in eternal glory with him… in fact, these pains we go through can help point the way for others to be saved through his son Jesus; offer encouragement to fellow Christians; and help us become more and more like Jesus ourselves. I love that verse in 1 Corinthians 2:9 you quoted and I also love the verse in 2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” That’s the real good news and goodness of God like you said. Great post!ReplyCancel

    • March 31, 2017 - 1:46 pm

      Vaneetha - Love your perspective, Crystal! I totally agree with this- “He sees our end from our beginning and he knows that all the pains we go through in this life will be worth it when we get to live in eternal glory with him… in fact, these pains we go through can help point the way for others to be saved through his son Jesus; offer encouragement to fellow Christians; and help us become more and more like Jesus ourselves.” Thank you for writing.ReplyCancel

  • April 3, 2017 - 9:46 am

    Julie Warner - Thank you Vaneetha, for sharing the outflow of insight and wisdom that has ruptured from the tremendous pain you’ve experienced. We can see how God has redeemed all of your suffering for so much good, for so much of His glory. It cheers us all on to keep going, to keep trusting Him in the affliction. One of the most difficult elements of chronic pain is how isolating it can be mentally and emotionally. Even if others can’t see the pain, it’s the greatest irony for the one suffering – we don’t want to be a burden to those we love with the daily pain and so we try to hide it to protect them… and so it adds to the isolation and the spiritual pain intensifies.

    Learning how to let go of control along this path has been the hardest lesson for me: to yield to the isolation (Jesus will meet me in it), to be honest with my family when I’m in pain (Jesus will be their sufficiency); and with no end it sight, hoping on God instead of healing (He will not disappoint!).

    Much love and esteem for you in our faithful Father!! XXOOReplyCancel

    • April 6, 2017 - 10:49 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you so much for writing, Julie. I loved the lessons God is teaching you: “Learning how to let go of control along this path has been the hardest lesson for me: to yield to the isolation (Jesus will meet me in it), to be honest with my family when I’m in pain (Jesus will be their sufficiency); and with no end it sight, hoping on God instead of healing (He will not disappoint!).” Great wisdom for all of us!ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2017 - 3:28 am

    Rudina - Thank you so much sister for sharing and ministering so faithfully this spirit-filled truth. This whole article became a prayer to me. And I also pray for an ever increasing of Jesus in you. May he grow ever stronger in you and may He sustain you in his never-ending love! Much love and appreciation.ReplyCancel

    • April 6, 2017 - 10:49 am

      Vaneetha - So grateful this was helpful, Rudina. Thank you for writing!ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2017 - 8:38 am

    Weekly Grace and Links – Abounding Grace - […] you ever felt let down by God? Wondered why God is always silent? What Good Is God? by Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a good read for anyone in that place right […]ReplyCancel

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