On believing God's goodness

A funny thing happened this week.
I finished writing my thesis proposal, something I've been dreaming up for years and writing for months. Who knows if it'll it get me grant money, but the point is that it's done, approved by my advisor, and I'm pretty darn proud.
It, and all the crazy beautiful possibilities that come with it, are such a gift. I was filled with so much joy and hope for my future that day and I soon found myself posting about it on instagram with the caption "God is good guys."

It's funny though...
not even a week before that I was crying to one of our pastors about how hard it was for me to believe that God really is good.
Amidst a semester full of death, disease, and pervasive social injustice, I'd been finding it so hard to believe that the God of our universe really has the best in mind for us, and that he really is working to redeem this world.

So why, after a brief moment of personal success, did I suddenly feel confident enough to declare that yes, God is good?
I don't know. It seems so self-righteous and absurd.
But maybe it's because it's my own life, and I can look back and see how he is shaping and changing me for the better. He's taken things out that I thought were good for me and blessed me with things I couldn't even fathom, or maybe wouldn't even wanted at the time. He's put me through pain to teach me and grow me ever closer to him. I can see that goodness in my own life.

But I can't in the rest of the world!!! Everyone can agree that watching the news the past few years has not been easy, but now that distant pain is so present. Here in the states, here in our lives. I don't know if I'm just old enough to understand all this now, if I was just naïve before, or if the world really is getting worse. Either way injustice feels so close.

Why should so many women go through the things they do? Why should farmworkers be so blatantly exploited, just for the whole situation to be covered up? Why should Wendy's still be able to advocate that they support families and communities ?!?!? Why are there still 45 million people in slavery today??

I don't have an answer. I don't have an answer for the suffering of thousands, millions, no billions of people other than that this world is stupidly broken, which of course we all know.

I can tell you that God uses suffering. I can tell you that he has in my own life.

I have seen hardships way way way way way worse than my own completely transform people's lives. I fully believe the verse in Matthew 19 that says that it's harder for rich people to get into heaven than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle.
There is a reason why Christianity is spreading faster in Africa, South America, and Asia than it is in North America or Europe.

But does that mean we should sit back and let suffering take its course? Sit back while thousands die everyday?
NO! We should be doing all we can to fight against it!

It's complicated. Because if Christianity teaches us that sin will be present in the world until the day Jesus returns then in theory our struggles against sin would be obsolete. There would just be another oppressive force after oppressive force. And that's true. We still have racism, we still have sexism, we still have rape and murder and sadness and everything that comes along with this mess.
But it would be silly to say that humanity has not made progress.
We live in a world of sin - a world that "misses the mark"- but we, as image bearers of God were put here to restore order, to be stewards of this Earth.
So, as we seek to see God's purpose for suffering, we should not let that stop our hearts from breaking, but use it to fuel our passion for justice.

A little over a year and half ago I met a visiting Plant Pathologist at my summer internship.  He told me that he used to know Norman Borlaug, (a celebrated plant breeder who won the Nobel Prize for his work to start the "Green Revolution"), but also that he'd been working on the same disease for 40 years. I was shocked. How could someone have the energy to do that?
It's a common theme in the plant disease world, in the pathology world in general. Diseases are always evolving and the fight never truly ends. I'm sure cancer doctors would agree.
But we can't just give up the fight and let plant diseases take out our food supply. We can't just stop the research. We may not ever end the disease, but we can slow its progress, lessen its damage.

The same is said for this world. We may not end the fight against injustice in our lifetimes, but we can slow its progress. We can lessen the number of lives and families destroyed by it.

God's redemptive movement is slow, (is that just? I'm not sure), but it is fueled by his people. He may be all powerful, but for some reason we are entrusted with furthering his will. Not alone of course, but he uses us.

So. Is God good? I guess we just have to trust that he is. That's faith though, isn't it?




Comments

  1. I love you and I love your heart. Thank you for wrestling with these things and sharing your thoughts and heart. So proud to be your sister!!!

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