Is God Still Good When Life Is Hard?

I don’t know about you, but when life gives me lemons, I dutifully make lemonade.

Then I pour out every last drop from the pitcher and say I DID NOT ORDER THIS, GOD.  I also might smash the glass on the floor…you know, just to get my point across.

How do you respond when life presses in, handing you a perceived burden instead of blessing?  How do you process your disappointment, failure, or pain?  Perhaps you and I both wonder the same thing: Can I still trust that God is good when I’m walking through a really hard season?

Hard isn’t always dramatic and life altering.  Sometimes it’s the “small hard” that can drive us to bitterness: the monotony of the daily grind as you fold yet another pile of laundry or stare at the same desk and workspace wondering when you’ll permanently escape the cubicle.  Those days that are totally different than you expected them to be and the only thing that went right was the wheels stayed on the car.  The children’s constant bickering that is working your last nerve.  When you’re processing the small hard, often the heart’s default reaction is to grumble and challenge God.  Does He even see that I’m dissatisfied?

And then other times, life steamrolls you with “Big Hard”.  While you’re left reeling flat on your back, the world sidesteps your pain and continues on.  Big Hard may look like the relationship that dissolves right in front of you, leaving pain and crushing silence in its wake.  The devastation caused by the death of a loved one, and the lingering grief that emerges uninvited in the most public places.  The depression that settles in like a nebulous fog, creating an emotional darkness that feels like a physical weight.  The diagnosis, the debilitating sickness, the one prayer you’ve prayed that seems to remain unanswered.  Big Hard goes beyond just simple disappointment and pushes you into anguish and heartache.  In moments of raw honesty, we abandon churchy answers and question if God truly sees, hears, knows, or cares.

We each have unique journeys; my story is not yours and your story is not mine.  My dad lived in a nursing home for eleven years with a feeding tube and a limited ability to communicate, confined to either a hospital bed or a wheelchair.  That’s some hard stuff right there.  And now, as joyful as the past year has been watching our newborn grow into a curious, smiley baby, my husband and I have each individually walked through significant difficulty for extended periods of time.  In my wrestling with God, I’ve had tears and confusion along the way and I’ve nearly perfected my whiny voice, yet I choose to believe that He is still good when life is hard.

Our world is profoundly broken and hardships will continue to enter and exit our lives until the day we die.  If God is truly constant and sovereign and faithful, then that’s who He is all the time.
                       His goodness is not conditional to our current circumstances or feelings. 
                                  Our misguided beliefs about God do not change who He is. 
          And the lies I believe about myself do not change how God sees me or what is actually true about me.

When he answers our prayers in specific, unique ways, He is a good God.  When our lives seem like they’re going off the rails and it’s a Big Hard type of journey with prayers that feel unanswered, He’s not frantic or confused, but still constant and sovereign and faithful and yes, even good.

“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out.” Romans 11:33   Surely if I had traced out my own life path, it would’ve been easier, somewhat linear, and filled with far more grandeur than ashes.  However, trusting that God’s wisdom and knowledge are deeper and richer than we can comprehend, we can walk through seasons of difficulty with tears in our eyes, questions in our hearts, and faith in our steps.

{Related Listening: “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle}