Last night our beloved 4 lb Chihuahua came up to us and within mere minutes she transformed from the bundle of love that we knew into an unresponsive and dying dog. She was only eight, but an exploding tumor or aneurysm took her from us suddenly. Having no children, it is a loss that I feel acutely, especially in this time of pandemic and isolation. Amid a torrent of support, love, and prayers from friends and family a particular conversation stood out to me.
A friend of mine has recently felt loss even more acutely, and on more than one level. This person is someone that since making a commitment to the Lord many years ago has lived and breathed in a state of worship. This person has been a stellar example and has challenged me to live consciously for the Lord more times than I can count. Seeing the level of suffering and pain that 2020 has brought into their life, I was particularly touched last evening when I received a message reaching out to encourage me. One part of the message stated, “Have to remind ourselves constantly that God is good!!” Sometimes, God doesn’t feel like he is good. Sometimes all circumstantial evidence seems to portray a very different verdict. I felt the mental dissonance of declaring God’s goodness in horrible circumstances sharply.
In Exodus, God tells Moses, “I AM who I AM […] I AM has sent you.” (Holy Bible, Exodus 3:14.) This message was to be proclaimed to a race of slaves existing in bondage and being promised freedom. God didn’t promise them that there would be no hunger, he didn’t promise that Pharaoh wouldn’t pursue them, he didn’t promise there would be hardship or death. He simply said that I AM had sent someone to set them free.
When Job was suffering beyond belief and questioning God, God finally responded to him, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” God asks a series of rhetorical questions that span over the chapters of Job 38-40 including: Will you discredit my justice? Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn it’s place? Have the gates of death been shown to you? And where does darkness reside?
It is easy in the midst of pain to declare and question the Almighty. It is just as easy sometimes to proclaim and repeat over our lives that God is good in spite of the way we feel or the questions that we have in our circumstances. Over the years I’ve found a response that works for me. One that I believe is mindful, true to my heart, honest, and most reflective of the reality I see in that moment (being the finicky, narrow-sighted human that I am). That response is to tell myself to remember that God IS. He simply IS.
No matter how I feel, the fact remains he is Almighty God and I am but a drop in the sea. No matter how unjustly I see things happening around me, that fact doesn’t change. If I should choose to throw a book off my roof, the law of gravity God established would cause that book to fall. God himself wouldn’t reach down from heaven and slap that book onto the ground. No, he established laws and free will on earth and he himself follows and respects his own rules. Does this mean that God is helpless to the chaos and events that take place on earth? Certainly not, but it does mean he is a gentleman and might even await our invitation for involvement through prayer and petition. He promises to work all things together for the good of those that love him. He doesn’t promise to prevent all bad things from happening.
Reminding myself in hard times that God IS, has been a simple way for me to turn my heart back to worship. Regardless of anything that happens to me, around me, or to those I love, God is still God and he is worthy of my worship. Even if I believe there is injustice and feel that God should have handled something differently, he is still God. Nothing can change that fact. It is a message that God has put before his people again and again through the bible’s old testament in all manner of circumstances and situations: Who will you worship?
“As for me and my house, we will worship the Lord.” (Holy Bible, Joshua 24:15.)