There it was again. In the aisle full of journals and stationery at T.J. Maxx, I saw this cutesy journal with the Bible verse I've heard all my life... Jeremiah 29:11. Yep, I bet if you've grown up in the church you're reciting it in your head right now, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." And while I knew it really was true and, really, a great verse, I also felt like I was being taunted instead of gently reminded. I wanted to throw that girly-looking journal across the store. I wanted to throw a grown-up temper tantrum at God in the middle of the aisle. I wanted to just give up honestly and scream about how unfair I thought He was.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been here, too. You know the feeling... God has promised something over and over, you've believed and prayed like a maniac for something, really just anything good to happen yet you feel like God just keeps throwing you in muddy pits. You go to church and sing You're a Good Good Father or one of the many songs that declare His goodness and faithfulness but as soon as you're out the door (or if you've been anything like me have stood there singing it in the pews or, honestly, even on the stage, but not really sure if you actually believe it). You've seen Him be good to others but maybe you're not seeing it for yourself.
And you don't wanna admit it. You don't wanna say you aren't too sure if He really is good to you or if He is doing anything good in your life because, well, you're alive, right? Because you have most of your basic needs met and you're not visibly suffering in front of everyone's faces, so why make a big deal about these thoughts and feelings you keep stuffing down, right?
But then I think about confession. I think about honesty. I think about communication and the love of the Father and His desire for unity, closeness, intimacy with us. And I wonder... maybe stuffing these things instead of coming to God as if He is actually God and can handle all these things has actually put a wall between my heart and His? Yes, nothing can separate us from the love of God... but we sure can miss out on deep intimacy with Him when we are constantly living in distrust of whoever this "Spirit in the Sky" guy that Norman Greenbaum might have been singing about and wondering if He is legit or not. And maybe it's not that we are wondering if He Himself is legit, but His perfect love? His goodness, faithfulness? His trustworthiness? Yeah, we aren't so sure about all of that a lot of times.
So, I decided, what the heck, I'm already actually losing my mind and feel like everything is absolutely falling apart when it "should" be falling into place so why not get brutally honest with God? No more of that "perfect little pastor's daughter" everyone sees, none of that girl who sugar-coats and kind-words her way around everything so not to offend or hurt anyone, no, none of that. I got in the dirt with God. I yelled, screamed, I cussed (and probably didn't use any of the words in the right way), I angry-ran, I cried, I ditched church and community for a while, and I told Him I straight up did not see anything good in what He was doing in my life. I told Him that this all just really stunk bad.
"But God, I've been so faithful, I've been so obedience, I, I, I..." Maybe I've forgotten what the true Gospel is... that it is through Him, His grace, the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, and His resurrection, is what saved me. Not me or anything I could ever do. So why, for a second, would I believe I could earn anything from Him when He is a freely giving Father? I had mistaken my record of "good deeds" for His precious sacrifice and His straight-up goodness.
And He reminded me... though life has been painful and things have either gone terribly bad or simply haven't gone "as planned", doesn't mean it won't be for good. He reminded me that He is doing a good thing even when it does not feel good.
Repeat that to yourself, friend...
God, I know You are doing a good thing even when it does not feel good.
And sometimes we gotta tell our thoughts and emotions to take a freaking seat in the time-out corner because they do not get to dictate our lives. Sometimes we gotta tell our thoughts and emotions to submit to the authority, peace, joy, the assurance and goodness of our Creator.
Sometimes, actually, if you're like me, all the dang time, we gotta ask the Holy Spirit to help us work through all those questions, hard thoughts, and dreadful emotions so He can show us and remind us that He is, indeed, good... and though we do not understand what's going on in front of us and in us, that what's happening truly is for our very best.
God, please help us to realize that you do have good, good plans for us and what You are doing right now is included in those good things.
So whether we can see how what is going on is for our best or if we don't see a single positive thing about it, whether we can praise and sing freely and joyfully or if we feel broken and in desperate need of a miracle because life hurts like hell right now, let us remember, friends... He is sovereign and kind. His promises to us are not dependent on the promises of man. And all that He does-- and does not do-- is truly for good.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romand 8:28
"God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19
"But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations." Psalm 33:11
"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
"The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made." Psalm 145:9