Over the last week or so, I have heard about various deaths in the lives of people around me; when I put this together with the daily increase of deaths in the UK, the projected estimates and best-case scenarios I can’t help but think about what may be going through the minds of people who have lost someone or have someone very ill in their family.
The reality of our situation is that the Coronavirus is and will change lives, and for many, this reality-check will bring about some tough questions around the goodness of God and their own faith journey. Questions like:
Can God really be good?
How good can God be in the face of all of this?
And even, is God good?
And I can’t fault anyone for asking these questions, rather than seeing these questions as a lack of faith, I actually see these questions as a sign of strength, a strength to look into those hard places and build a truly resilient faith that makes sense to you. And whether you see yourself as Christian or not, one thing I have realised is that how we answer these questions and even whether we allow ourselves space to ask them comes down to the worldview and beliefs we hold.
Can I ask you a question? What does goodness and being good mean? What does it mean to you? Is our definition of good the same as God’s? We can easily get tripped up here, but I am reminded that the Bible says that there is no one, none good except God?
I know that there will be people who struggle with this because death doesn’t discriminate, it can take the best of us and worst of us, so we have to think more deeply about our own understanding of goodness.
Here are some questions I invite you to honestly reflect upon for yourself, and check in with your gut response:
Does God’s goodness allow space for bad things to happen and to what degree before it becomes unacceptable?
Is God good as long as pain and disaster is far away from us in some remote developing or war-torn country somewhere?
Does God being good mean that He listens to AND intervenes in our prayers?
Does His goodness mean that bad things only happen to bad people and people who “sin”?
Does it mean that we don’t get what we truly deserve?
Can we lose people we love, our livelihoods, our way of living and still see God as good, or are there certain things that need to remain for us to feel like that can still be true?
I think during times like this, the question we are really asking ourselves is, can life be unfair and unpredictable and God still be good?
The Results of Our Thinking
I read many posts of people celebrating God for praise reports and testimonies, but what if you’ve prayed and believed and nothing? Some people may argue that if you have enough faith and your prayers are righteous then your prayer will be answered, but is this true?
For many people, this experience will change their perspective of God and their faith, some for the worst, some for the better. For some people, everything going on will be evidence of why there is no God and if they are spiritually-inclined it may lead them towards a path that makes sense to them where there is no ultimate God or Power that lets bad things happen to “good people”.
For some people, they will see a bigger plan and higher perspective in the catastrophe which gives them hope, understanding or clarity around God’s goodness and what it means.
Some will see this as a time of holding on more closely to God as anchor and rock in the storm, with finding and feeling comfort and strength more important to their well-being to figuring it all out.
For others, it may lead them to do more than question God but to question themselves too.
Yes, some people will suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD and suicidal thoughts, some may stay there and some may rise out better.
Some people will see this as an opportunity to flourish and grow, some people may fall away from their faith and a lot of this comes down to how we process through all of this now.
But there is another way to maybe look at all of this, that is to look out at the world and see what is happening not as a by-product of whether God is good or not or how good He is but as a by-product of our own “fallen-ness.” To maybe start taking responsibility for our role in how everything is playing out instead of blaming or judging God because He isn’t fixing it for us. As Newton’s third law states, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And maybe God’s goodness is being shown in a different way that we can’t see or understand right now?!
Some Final Thoughts & a Gift
My purpose in writing this post is to help you honestly reflect and process on your own beliefs and worldview around catastrophe and God’s goodness.
A scripture that has always given me lots of clarity through the storm is the story of when Mary and Joseph fled with little Jesus into Egypt, and the thousands of deaths of little babies, infants and small boys that resulted from one man’s desire to hold onto power. For me, it was a tough lesson that bad things can and do happen, even to those who are the most innocent amongst us yet God was aware (after all it was prophecied) and God was still in control.
There are a few things I am doing to help me process through the uncertainty and loss that I would love to share with you:
Prayer. Prayer for me has been huge and I’m not the evangelical let’s pray over everything kind of person either, but there are times during the day or in the middle of the night when I find myself just praying. I pray for protection and strength of course but I also pray for mercy and forgiveness. I ask myself what are the lessons that this season is teaching us, how can I learn, repent and grow from this all, what does God want me to do in this time? In many ways, I’m finding that the reality of so much death and chaos is bringing me closer to God and putting me into perspective with regards to who I am, what power I have and who God is and what power He has. It is humbling.
Still my Mind. There is so much noise out there, so many theories about why this is all happening and who is to blame, so much emotion with regards to well…. everything and I know myself, I am emotionally sensitive, especially at this time and all of this can become too much. So I have to care and love myself and little one through it as best as I can. That means I’m focusing my mind on what lifts me up and brings me stillness and I’m practising what builds me up and nourishes me.
Being Safe. I’m doing what I practically can to be as safe as I can be because I know that I can’t just fold my hands and expect God to come down from heaven and do it all. And yes, whilst God’s Word might say 1000 shall fall at my side, and no evil befall me, does that mean I go out and put it to the test? No, I am being responsible and I’m doing my best to make sure that the people I love are being sensible, safe and responsible too.
Take Positive Action. I am seeing this as an opportunity to make a difference, I feel like more now than ever there are people who need what I have to offer and also that it is my responsibility to use my gifts and talents to help others at this time. I feel like this is a time of Divine calling which is another reason why it’s vitally important for me to rise above what I can physically perceive and be attuned to what the Spirit is doing.
I believe that there are always three courses of action we can take: upwards and outwards growth towards God, possibility and potential, stagnancy and retreat.
If we choose to be, we can either be a demonstration of the fallen-ness and chaos in the world or the tangible evidence of God’s goodness.
I believe that now is a time for what is true and eternal within us to take stand against what we are physically experiencing in the world today, my prayer is that in spite of the changes that are arising that you will see and use this as an opportunity for growth, expansion and goodness that will bless you, your family and others.
I know that shifting into this space especially if this time has been particularly difficult or trying for you can be hard, so I would like to gift you with something. It’s a complimentary training that I’ve put together to help shift you out of threat and anxiety towards potential and growth.
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