“… we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28 (ESV)
In 2015, The New York Times ran an article called “Googling for God.”
In this article, author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz starts by saying, “It has been a bad decade for God, at least so far.” He goes on to ask, “What questions do people have when they are questioning God?”
The number one question was, “Who created God?”
The number two question was, “Why does God allow suffering?”
But it was the third question that slammed into my heart and made me realize the depth at which many of us struggle when we walk through devastating situations: “Why does God hate me?”
I’m not alone in wondering about God’s feelings when circumstances beg me to feel betrayed. While I would have never used the word “hate,” seeing it typed out as one of the most commonly asked questions about God shows me just how dark our perspective can get. The most devastating spiritual crisis isn’t when we wonder why God isn’t doing something. It’s when we become utterly convinced He no longer cares. And that’s what I hear hiding behind that Google search.
And I shudder to say this, but I think that’s what has been hiding behind my own places of disillusionment as I’ve walked through painful circumstance after devastatingly painful circumstance in recent years. What makes faith fall apart isn’t doubt. It’s becoming too certain of the wrong things. Things like: He doesn’t care about me. How can a good God be OK with this? What I see is absolute proof that God isn’t working.
That’s where I can find myself getting more and more skeptical of God’s love, God’s provision, God’s protection, God’s instructions and God’s faithfulness. And most of all, where I start fearing He really has no plan at all, and I’m just truly going to be a victim of circumstances beyond anyone’s control.
The problem with that thinking is while it may line up with what my life looks like from my place of pain and confusion, it doesn’t line up with Truth. And before everything went haywire in my life, I had already put a stake in the ground, proclaiming that God’s Word is where I would turn and return to no matter what.
I could resist trusting God and turning to His truth. I could run from it. I could, with bitter resignation, put my Bible on a shelf to collect dust for years. But I wouldn’t be able to escape what was already buried deep into my heart.
I knew in this deep-down knowing place that what I was seeing wasn’t all that was happening. Past experiences where I have seen God’s faithfulness remind me that I don’t always see God working in the midst of my hard times.
There are a few times in my life where I’ve seen dramatic moves by God happen quickly enough for me to say, “Wow, look what God is doing!” But most of the time, it’s thousands of little shifts so slight that the dailiness of His work doesn’t register in real time.
It’s hard when we are living in that space where our heads know God can do anything, but our hearts are heavy because He’s not doing what we are hoping for, what we’ve prayed for, what we’ve believed for, for a long while. I get it — and I’ve cried many tears because of it.
So, what helps? It helps to know these things:
God often works in the unseen. Just because we can’t see it or feel it doesn’t mean He isn’t working.
“… we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV).
What may feel like a lack of intervention is not a sign of His lack of affection.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23, NIV).
God loves us too much to answer our prayers at any other time than the right time, and in any other way than the right way.
“… we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Today, look for beautiful ways God is showing you assurances of His love. His deep affection is all around you, friend. Even in the waiting places.
God, I know You are always working. Help me acknowledge You working in the unseen. I confess my skepticism when things are not working out the way I had planned. I choose today to believe I am not a victim to uncontrollable circumstances. Even when I don’t see it, even when I don’t feel it, I will stand on the Truth that You are working all things together for good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.