Is Your God Good Enough?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Our God is BIG, right? Just as He took Abraham outside and instructed him to look up at the stars, we too can gaze on the vastness of the heavens and get a glimpse of God’s greatness. If God wasn’t great, we wouldn’t have left our homes, like Abraham, to follow Him across the globe. But sometimes our life experiences can shape our view of His goodness. When God acts in a way that doesn’t appear to us to be good, can we continue to put our trust in His unchanging character?

Do we believe that God is good enough?

Does He really care about the difficult circumstances we are facing? Will He give us the strength and grace we need to weather these boat-tipping storms? Take to heart our complaints, our longings, our desperation and pain? Love us and our loved ones (both near and far) with a deeper unconditional, unfailing love than we could ever imagine?

In Your God is Too Small, J.B. Phillips discusses two images of God that are void of goodness: one as a Disappointment and one as a Negative Force:

“To some people the mental image of God is a kind of blur of disappointment. ‘Here,’ they say resentfully and usually with more than a trace of self-pity, ‘is One whom I trusted, but He let me down.’ The rest of their lives is consequently shadowed by this letdown…

Such a god is, of course, in the highest degree inadequate. It is impossible for people who have persuaded themselves that God has failed, to worship or serve Him in any but a perfunctory spirit. What has usually happened to such people is that they have set up in their minds what they think God ought or ought not to do, and when He apparently fails to toe their particular line they feel a sense of grievance.”

Can you relate to this image of God? I sure can. Deep disappointment makes me think of the disciples who shuffled along, faces downcast, on the road to Emmaus. “We had hoped,” they told the mysterious man who appeared beside them, “that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21) It was all over, they believed. Finished. Their hopes for the Messiah had been nailed to the cross and had died with him there.

When you think about a time that God let you down and didn’t come through in the way you hoped, did a part of you die too? Has that deep disappointment caused your worship and service to become a joyless obligation?

Phillips offers a second view of God, which is not actually that different: God as a Negative Force.

“If they were completely honest, many people would have to admit that God is to them an almost entirely negative force in their lives…His whole Nature seems to deny, to cramp, and inhibit their own…

Compared to their non-Christian contemporaries their lives seem to have less life and colour, less spontaneity and less confidence. Their god surrounds them with prohibitions but he does not supply them with vitality and courage. They may live under the shadow of his hand but it makes them stunted, pale and weak…

They actually feel that it is wrong to be themselves, wrong to be free, wrong to enjoy beauty, wrong to expand and develop. Unless they have their god’s permission they can do nothing. Disaster will infallibly bring them to heel, sooner or later, should they venture beyond the confines of ‘his plan for them’…

Dare they defy and break away from this imaginary god with the perpetual frown and find the One who is the great Positive, who gives life, courage and joy, and wants His sons and daughters to stand on their own feet?”

Does your God wear a perpetual frown? Do you view him like the servant who cowered before his master, saying, “I knew you were a hard man…so I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.” (Matthew 25:24-25)

Are we willing for God to soften our calloused hearts, to bring healing, and to give us an enlarged view of Him? After viewing the stars, Abraham faced an incredibly difficult time of indefinite waiting to see the fulfillment of God’s plan. I’m sure that he shared our struggles of seeing God as good when He seemed more like a Disappointment and a Negative force in his life. But he refused to become hardened or cynical. “Abraham believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

When Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, all of those things that didn’t make any sense suddenly fit together. The death of old dreams gave birth to new ones through the Resurrection. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

How does God want to give you life, courage, and joy in this season of Thanksgiving? Can we count the stars together and reflect on God’s goodness?

5 Comments

  1. Jodie November 28, 2015

    http://darlalawan.blogspot.ca/2015/10/from-northern-lights-to-southern-stars.html

    I wanted to share this beautiful post by Darla on the topic of Control several weeks ago in the Grove in case you didn’t read it. She writes about her journey of wrestling with God and His plans for her life, under the northern lights and under the southern stars.

    “God moves us into places and situations we can’t control. It drives us to our knees and it brings us, or at least me, under the night sky, recognizing the vastness of God and His infinite wisdom.”

  2. Ellie November 29, 2015

    Great post Jodie. Thanks.

    I think half (or more?!) of being here as an overseas worker is about God breaking my pre-conceived plans for him! And wrestling with that and who he is. And I’ve been really challenged recently (and again today by your post) about that parable of the talent buried in the ground.. and being “free to be me” and how God made me to be, and that being okay, and a blessing to others – and that some of the things I’ve buried need to be unearthed – so I guess it’s also about breaking the pre-conceived plans/ideas I have for myself?! so thank you for the timely reminder. 🙂

  3. Jodie November 29, 2015

    Ellie, I really appreciate your heart and the ways you share what God is teaching you/how He is growing you more into His likeness. I know He is glorified through your life and the way you are passionately pursuing Him. May you experience much “freedom to be you” and unearthing of what has been buried in this season of Advent.

  4. Becky February 9, 2016

    Thakns for taking the time to post. It’s lifted the level of debate

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