I’m in the process of developing a program with a friend to minister to writers who are in deep places in their lives. I’ve been asking God to show me how to encourage and share His truth with those who feel lost, abandoned, worthless, like they’ve wasted their gifts…those who are in pain and struggling…
WHAT was I thinking??
There’s only one way to really minister to people in certain situations: you have to go through them yourself. And so I have been. Over and over and over and…well, you get the idea. I can’t even begin to tell you the dark places I’ve been in the last year, the places I never expected to be. Places I’ve prayed I would never have to face. And as I’ve dwelled in this darkness, I’ve heard whispers—insidious, pervasive whispers—calling everything into question. Most I recognize as ploys to undermine my faith. (Funny, isn’t it, how lacking the enemy is in creativity?) But I have to confess there has been one whisper above all others that pecks at me. It weaves its way from the outside—darting in and out of my heart—in, just enough to cause pain, then out before I can get hold of it and wrestle it to the ground. That one low question, rumbling with mockery and challenge, chip-chip-chips away at who and what I am—
No, more than that. It chips away at Who and What God is:
Where is God’s goodness in this?
Oh, the temptation to take hold, to embrace the doubt, to question God’s goodness! Life can be so hard! Overflowing with struggle. Not the “I-can’t-find-a-parking-spot-at-CostCo” kind (as irritating as those may be), but the struggles where home or family or security or life are in peril. Hurt and fear leave us feeling abandoned. And as each blow has landed on already bruised places in my spirit, I’ve wondered what in the bald-headed-dog-snot God is doing. I’ve begged Him to help me understand. And I’ve come so close to embracing the whisper, giving it a soul amen.
Another whisper stopped me. Simple words that struck so deep I thought the blow might be fatal. And it was—but not to me.
God is good.
Three words. At first I brushed them aside. Such a cliché. God is good. Of course I know tha–
GOD is good.
I stopped. The same three words, but a meaning far deeper than I thought. GOD is good. He is the One from who all good things come. He is goodness and light. In Him is no darkness. No hint of evil. GOD is good. God alone.
God IS good.
Though still a whisper, the words rang through me. With people, we judge goodness by their actions and words. By the fruit in their lives. But is God a man that I should judge His goodness on the circumstances I’m facing? If I have cancer, does that mean God isn’t good? If my marriage is slipping away, does that mean God isn’t good? If I die, does that mean God isn’t good?
No. It can’t. Because God’s goodness isn’t about actions or words or circumstances. It’s Who He is. It’s His very character. And as I realize that, words I’ve loved since childhood sing through me. Mr. Beaver, deep in the woods of Narnia: “Safe? … Who said anything about safe? ‘Course [Aslan] isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
He’s the King. THE King. And I’m here to tell you, from the depths of a life peppered with both great good and desperate darkness, that the God of the Universe is not changed by our circumstances. He. Does. Not. Change. Nor does His goodness. The idea that it does is a myth. A lie built on emotions and half-truths. And we, as His people, must not perpetuate this myth. Not in our writing. Not in our speech.
This, my friends, is what fills our books and our messages. We write about these very soul battles. Which is why we must be so purposeful in our words. Written words. Spoken words. Words we allow into our hearts and minds. And our most important words of all: the words we share about God.
This isn’t about expressing doubt. It’s not about being honest and authentic in our trials. It’s not about God being big enough to handle our questions. It’s about speaking the truth of Who God is. We writers are people of words. More than that, we who write for God’s glory are people of THE Word. Of the Creator of the Word. If you and I aren’t purposeful and careful in what we say about God, who will be? If we don’t speak and write truth about who God is, who will? If I’m not holding fast to what I know of God, of His character, as the basis for my words, regardless of circumstances, then what am I doing?
May I–may we all—never forget. God is the source of our words. He is the source of everything that comes to us. He is the source of all goodness. He is GOD.
And HE IS GOOD.
Amen and amen. Now I need to find a box of tissues.
Excellent post – We have all been there – but you have captured the words so well in how to remain focused on the goodness of God
Karen, I so identify with your words. It gives me a deep appreciation for you. My precious wife had to face a number of my own realities, so she could identify with me. I guess God did as much for you. Yes, in spite of it all, deep calls unto deep and He is still there. Nothing, in heaven above, nor earth below, neither angels or powers or any other creature, things present or yet to come, will ever separate us from the essence of that goodness – His love for us. I can confirm that, if anything, life has driven my love for Him to deeper places. Thanks – I really mean thanks. What you revealed of yourself today reflects a kindred spirit that transcends time and place. Indeed, though we have different mothers, we have one father. I trust He lifts you up too.
Thank you, Karen, and thank you, Peter. We have all been to the depths and back and found God is there with His arms wide open, just like we’d hoped. We dared to believe what He said, who He is, and now we get to tell about it. Love you, Karen. Always have.
Thank you! I needed that!
“Then sings my soul…” resonated through me reading this, Karen. I hate that you’ve gone through whatever it is you have, but God’s glory is all over it! Every word is Truth. Thank you for writing it and for being used by God. May we all have the courage to say, “Use me, Lord.”
As often as you come to mind or I see your name, I’ll be praying for you.
Karen, it’s interesting that your blog post today deals with God’s goodness and words. I woke up this morning and my first thoughts were about words and how they are compared to a double edged sword. With our words we can inflict pain but we can also apply a balm to someone else’s wounds. I hope I never forget to use the words in my stories to show that God is good. Thank you for sharing your heart today.
This is the most honest piece of writing I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for sharing your vulnerabilities and reminding us of what is Truth.
Who knew I would need a box of tissues before 8 am? I needed to hear that. Been a challenging year here, too.
That’s why I love the Psalms so much. David went through the same struggles, inner turmoil, conflict. We could debate for hours the reaons why we must walk these steep paths, but there is only one truth we know for certain. God is Good. So we cling to him because, quite frankly, He is the only perfect good we will find in this world.
The bottom line for me is, no matter what this evil world throws at me, no matter how many times I beg God to take it all away but nothing happens, I still couldn’t face a single day without Him.
Karen, xo and praying for you.
Well said. God IS good. This world is not. But this is definitely a challenge not to sacrifice who God really is for the sake of the happily ever after in a story. If we make Him out to be the “magic genie character,” what are we saying?
Thanks, Karen. Needed this today! That Narnia line is one of my favorites. It really helped me understand what it means to “fear” the Lord. He is big and powerful, mighty and … Good. He is for us, so who can be against us?
I will write for Him!
Karen, thank you for this post. While I’m sorry you’re struggling, I’m comforted knowing I’m not alone. In the past year, I’ve experienced an abnormally large number of emotionally-charge life events, and I’m weary. I can’t help but think it’s because of my writing. Sometimes satan is so obvious. (But that makes it easier to laugh at him). And as I laugh at him, I remind myself that God is good, and faithful to His promises. 🙂
Karen, as you may recall, I was comfortable in my life when the worst event I’d ever experienced–the death of my wife of 40 years–knocked the pins from under me. Yet it was that event that led me from retirement after medicine into the road to writing, a journey that has changed my life forever and (fortunately) ministered to others as well. Thanks for the reminder. True, we may experience dark times. But the valley we go through isn’t a box canyon–there’s an end, and God is there.
Thank you, Karen, for a word today I desperately needed.
Patty Smith Hall
Amen! GOD is good all the time!
Amen. Thank you, Karen. God used you to speak to me this morning!
Thank you. I needed to hear this today…
Amen and amen! There’s a key verse in Hebrews 11, the heroes of faith chapter. It’s verse 13: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
I can be so focused on the here-and-now that I forget that what really matters is eternity. “But now we see through a glass darkly . . . ” Yep. That about says it.
Thanks for posting this today. I’m pulling my hair out over the most grace-filled ms I’ve ever tried to write, while coping with real life stuff that’s definitely not fun. I need this reminder.
God is good . . . ALL THE TIME.
Thank you for such a wonderful post!
We all need to hear it said over and over, so we won’t forget it; that no matter what we are going through, God IS with us. Sometimes He does take away the storm, the problems or heals. Other times He shows His love by holding us in His arms while we go through the battle. I know, without any doubts, that God is with us, holding us, reminding us how much He loves us, and whispering words of encouragement during our struggles. From these things, we gather His strength so we can face tomorrow.
Mocha with Linda
YES and AMEN! I cringe a little bit every time I hear someone, well-intentioned though they are, say “The tumor is benign. God is good.” Because even if the tumor is malignant, God is good! But you rarely hear people say that in Sunday morning prayer time. God’s goodness does not change according to our circumstances. He is Good. Period.
Thanks for this post.
God’s good. He’s also uncompromising.
In creating us, in His image, He had to allow free will and all that it entails…cruelty and cancer, tyranny and tears. But to intervene, and take free will away, would be to kill any chance we have to be able to enter, with joy and knowledge, into His company.
Abdominal wounds create a terrible, terrible thirst, but to give water to a gut-shot man will kill him.
I believe that God wants, more than anything, to rush to our rescue, to make all the hurts disappear…but doing that will kill us, forever.
Oh, Karen. You have it. Is God still good when bad things occur? That was the soul-wrenching decision I faced when my godly daughter was dying of melanoma. She had two daughters, nine and six. Her husband was living with his girlfriend. We both knew God could heal her with a word or a touch of His finger. But He did not. She died, convinced of God’s total provision. I never heard her ask once, “Why me?”
When I asked on what she based her statement that her husband would step up and become the father he should be, she said, “Mom, you of all people should understand. I’m trusting God, not him.”
I went through some dark hours, but in nine years I have SEEN the goodness of God. Sensed His concern and His loving control. GOD IS GOOD, indeed. And so I write.
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Marilyn, thank you for that poignant, personal example. Praise God for your daughter’s faith and for God’s goodness.
Erin Taylor Young
An amazing piece of writing on an amazing truth. Thanks, friend.
Amen indeed, Karen. Thanks so much for sharing from your heart and reinforcing a truth we always need to cling to.
Amen. A post full of truth and hope. God is good all the time! Thank you for sharing your heart.
Beautifully written, Karen. Thank you so much for this reminder today. 🙂
Karen, this was inspiring and broke up some fallow ground in my heart. During my second bout with cancer I was struggling. I felt I had suffered so well during my first bout that I shouldn’t have to go through it again. The Lord humbled my heart with two precious thoughts. One thought came from the Scriptures. If it pleased the Lord to bruise His Son, it could please Him to bruise me as well. The second from a godly, older man I love. He said, “If our Lord’s life was one of suffering, why shouldn’t ours be?” When I thought of the suffering of the Lord Jesus and what He suffered for me, I knew I would try to live by faith through what He allowed in my life. May the Lord give you wisdom, strength, grace, and blessing as you bind up broken hearts, encourage the fainthearted, and walk beside suffering saints.
As many have commented, this touched my heart in the deepest way. Over the past two years, I have gone through the darkest time of my life and my marriage…and all too often, I ask “Where is God’s goodness in this?”
It is so easy to fall for the enemy’s trap of doubt. While my husband has cast off God because of this very question, I still find hope in knowing that there is SUCH A BIGGER PLAN than what my human eyes can see. God’s got this…AND He is GOOD!
Thanks for the beautiful post, Karen!
My Dad stubbornly rejected Jesus all our lives, until my mom died. Then he went on a discipleship course, was baptized at 80, reconciled himself to all of us and confessed all his sins to a confidante, before packing his bags for an adventure beyond the stars. My mom never stopped praying for him and she clung to life on her death bed, until he at least made peace with her. Angie, I saw how tough it was to stay with an unbelieving spouse, but love him anyway and just pray – don’t try to change him (men will push against that anyway), just pray. A lady in our cell-group heard God say, “Go buy a mannequin”. Later she heard Him prompt her to paint one side white, the other black. Then she sensed God say. “Yes he has a black side, but when you see it, turn the mannequin around and be reminded, that he also has a good side – love that – it is the greatest evidence of God”. Hope it helps.
What a writer you are! And thank you for your honesty.
Daniel 3:18 “But even if He does not…”
I think this is a defining phrase in anyone’s walk with God. Our reaction when He does not, is everything.
Because it isn’t in the moments of miracles and blessings that our faith is either defined or refined. It’s in the hard times, the impossible times when God’s answer is no.
Sometimes all I can salvage from the rubble of trial is this: Satan will not get any victories here “even if He does not” rescue, deliver, heal, spare from death, say yes, change the circumstance.
Misquoting Screwtape, no doubt: “Our cause is never in such jeopardy as when a despairing man searches the horizon for reasons to believe, finds none, and continues to believe.”
I’ve walked the dark valleys too many times. When I was 34, for months I stood in the shower each day, crying out to God, “How could you let this happen?” Five years later, looking back, I could see the good that came out of the bad, but the good was for someone else, not the person who suffered so much and then died. I now remind myself that my suffering often isn’t for my benefit, but for someone else in some way that God may or may not reveal to me this side of heaven. I’ve learned to hang on to the knowledge that the fog that swallows the headlights going forward will finally clear, and I’ll see at least some of the reasons in the rearview mirror. I’ll be praying for you.
My passion is sharing Jesus with unbelieving friends and even strangers. That’s when the question of God’s goodness plagues me most. I know the truth, but what about someone who doesn’t want to believe that He is real and that they need Him? It’s so hard to find the words to explain why God lets bad things happen. When they are facing suffering and even death, what can I say and do to throw the lifeline so they will take hold and discover Jesus at the other end? Like you wrote, only by walking through the fire and coming out the other side, even if a bit scorched, can we be credible witnesses to the power of God, who is both great and good.
Carol, Jesus delayed over Lazarus, but He came when the hour was ripe. He is the resurrection and the life. If you do not rise from your brokenness or cast aside the stone that life has rolled over your tomb, then in the words of Paul, Christ is not risen – but He is and you will yet rise. I was challenged recently by the words of someone who ministers on prayer. He spoke of a congregation that was closed to his words, until he unearthed the cause. Years before they had prayed, fasted, heard words and received scripture verses for their pastor’s dying wife, who died anyway. They could not get past that to trust God for anything, until the speaker poured oil on their wounds and helped them to trust God again. I pray for you that no matter how hard it has been through all your storms, that the first evidence of the risen Christ will be the rising again of hope in what God wants to do for you, not just for others.
Reading through each post, it seems we’ve all struggled with this issue at one time or another. This morning Streams in the Desert focused on Rom. 8:28. “God works all things together for our good.”
At the end they tacked on an adage by George Mueller. “In a thousand trials, it is not just five hundred of them that work, “for the good” of the believer, but nine hundred and ninety-nine, plus one.”
What a wonderful reminder that God has not even overlooked our “plus one” crisis, but will use even this final blow for our good.
Amen! Thank you for this powerful reminder. Circumstances may change, but God never changes.
Patti Jo Moore
Powerful post, Karen – – thank you for sharing your heart with us.
Yes, God IS Good – – ALL the time.
Praying that He will guide us all to be beacons of light in this dark world.
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Thank you, Karen. Such a needed exhortation.
So interesting that this truth about God seems to be one Satan attacks consistently (as you said, he has no creativity–but then, his strategy seems to affect so many of us, why shift gears?)
The greatest struggle of my heart had to do with this very point: Is God good? I was leaving church after our music minister had said, rather glibly, “Isn’t God good?” I drove past a convalescent hospital and saw an elderly person in a wheelchair, alone. It brought to mind all the people I knew going through times of suffering, all the wars and rumors of wars and the people suffering because of them, and I cried out, “Are you good, God? Are you really good?” As if He were speaking to me directly, I knew the answer in my heart. Not, “Yes, I’m good,” but “If you think you care about all these people suffering, realize I know them all by name.” It was enough. I understood from that point on that the suffering which the ravages of sin cause, break the heart of God, which is precisely why He came to save. He is not complicit with or unmindful of the evil of the world but went after it, conquering sin and death out of His goodness.
I’m convinced: our good, all powerful, all knowing God certainly can be trusted.
Ummm, methinks you hit the mark Karen. The response confirms the crying needs all around us … and I so value the idea of us being the voice of God in this desperate world.
that sound like a great program. sign me up.
Dear Karen, thank you for sharing your journey and the blessed reminder of His eternal goodness.
My dark days are lightened as I thank God for everything He has done for me. His holy revelation fills the holes in my soul. A priceless gift.
Praying for you and me.
Oh, amen! This was my journey through much of last year. I’d build my life upon the truth of Romans 8:28 and then one day my world crumbled internally and I didn’t know if I believed it anymore. A dark night of the soul…God rebuilt my spiritual house on the true cornerstone of Christ. And I learned Who He truly is and that HE IS GOOD. And as I learned who He is, I learned who I am. Our identity in Jesus is crucial to a strong foundation. We all need this. Karen, thank you for sharing this powerful word, and your heart to help others in this place. I’m working on doing the same. Our testimonies are powerful! Hugs!
Martha W Rogers
So many have expressed the same feelings I had as I read your blog. This has been a rough year for our family as well, but as I read Scripture in my Bible study this morning, the words of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 really resonated with me. Everything that happens in our lives has a purpose. Even our poor decisions can be turned and used for good because has a purpose for everything in our life. All those things for which I asked God, “Why?” had a purpose and a meaning that I can see as I look back over 79 years of living.
God was,is, and always will be GOOD. It’s who He is and although the circumstances are not always good, He will use them for His purposes to make something good for us. My mind seems to be rambling, but I hope you get the gist of what I mean.
Thank you for sharing, Karen.
Martha, what I sense is that even Satan’s ‘best’ decisions are used by God to further His own purposes. Like a Judo fighter, He uses our enemy’s mindless momentum to outplay him, time and again. I know He can also use your wrong turns to translate what was meant for evil into good. God is habitually redemptive and will always find a way to make the most of what you have in your hands, be it a few loaves, some fish or a story about redeemed regrets. I pray he lifts you up as the father once did for the arch-errant, the Prodigal son.
Wendy L Macdonald
Thank you, Karen. You just never know who you’ve encouraged (or what they’re going through) when you post such an honest and poignant post. God is good—all the time.
Blessings ~ Wendy ❀
This is working out to be a very topical post for me today!
I’m having super-severe chest pain, from pancreatic issues. It’s hard to breathe, and there is nothing that will act as a pallative.
Except, perhaps, God’s working with me to make something good out of something that truly sucks.
I got to the keyboard…by His grace…to say this.
God cares. He hates the pain, but He loves me enough to help me break through and bear this witness.
God loves us, and as He is Risen, so shall we be.
Andrew, I was always amazed at how Jesus could sense, feel or hear a need in the crowds that followed Him. How often the people we engage every day are like NYC passersby: desperate to not get your eye for fear of what that would cost. Well, actually, despite an avalanche of comments here, I did hear you and was moved with compassion. I went to your site, read your blog and wept over the dogs who were saved to stand by you. My brother, my heart weeps for you. In my part of the world, a 19 year old woman with a dreadful disease started a campaign for that disease and a parallel campaign for organ donation. Her battle cry was, “Get me to 21”. She died yesterday and sadly fell short of her goal. I hope you know that you speak grace and healing through your pain, but I also pray that God will spare you and “Get you to …” Thank you Andrew for using your last breaths to breath life and hope into all of us. Thank you for standing firm in your greatest storm to provide just another great witness in the court that will one day condemn God’s greatest enemy.
Peter, thank you so very, very much.
I wish the girl had made it to 21. Oh, I wish!
Karen, you are such a gift to so many. Your honesty and vulnerability are laced throughout this post and just like a psalm resolves the aching need in a deeply meaningful way. Hugs to you my friend!!
Before 11:03 in the morning you have 41 comments. I’m late at after 2 pm. I will go back and reread your blog and then read all the comments and probably reread them again. Then come back and reread again.
Looks like you hit a nerve. It is mine when a tear comes unbidden to my eye. Yes.
Life texture is rough but G-d’s goodness and love in agape grace, mercy, peace, love and fellowship makes the walk smoother. My goodness reflection is the aim to be in the nitch of talking, writing, sounding like and spelling out peace in spiritual personal relationship. And so I ponder.
Guess that is part of my 25 words.
YES and Amen (to echo another comment).
May all our devastating trials catapult us further into the heart of the God who is Good.
As I was reading, I was going, “Amen, Amen!” You are so right. The core belief in all we write and speak must be the goodness of God. There are so many bad things in this world, but they don’t come from Him. He gets blamed for so many things. Your post was powerful and right on the money. Thank you!
Lifting you up, Karen!
You’re undoubtedly in a season. Neat things about seasons is that they are ever changing and don’t last forever.
Thank you for being vulnerable with us. God’s using your season for His glory even though you may not see it yet. Trust.
Thank you for the reminder about the importance of words.
“It is well, it is well with my soul”.
Beautiful. Thank you, Karen.
I needed to read this today. Thank you, Karen. Yes, God is good. He is faithful. I’m so thankful to serve Him. This was beautifully written.
YES. Talk about writing from a place of authenticity! Linda Dillow’s book Calm My Anxious Heart encouraged me in some of my darkest hours of all with these truths: God’s Word is truer than anything I’ll ever feel. And God’s Word is truer than any circumstance I’ll ever face. And His Word says–again and again–He is Good. Whatever we receive from His hand MUST be good, because He is. I’ll keep praying for you as you walk through these hard times! May you SEE His goodness through your tears.
Yes, Karen! Amen and amen. My autistic daughter, Anna, has uncontrolled seizures. I’ve been asking God to heal her for years. One night, while I was begging, I felt Him speak to my heart: “I am able to heal your daughter. But if I choose not to, will you still love Me?”
He has chosen not to heal her yet, and yes, I still love Him. It doesn’t negate His goodness that He waits to heal. Which is something I have to remind myself of often. 🙂
Gotta love how you stumble upon websites, and God uses them to speak a word to you! 🙂 Thank you for posting this. I needed this reminder. His word is truly light in the darkness.
This so met me this week as I may have been there right next to you asking the same questions this year… adding, “Why me?” especially when other, clearly more godly Christians walked through similar circumstances, proclaiming the peace or even joy of Jesus while I kept waiting – expecting, and obviously not seeing since He was there in the healing. He is good. Thanks for the reminder.
Beautiful post, Karen. I’ve been thinking a lot about this myself, and it’s so interesting to me how we so often think of God’s goodness through the lens of our circumstances, and yet you make the point so eloquently that God is asking us to see his goodness, period. We must take of the lens and simply see. Thank you.
Thank you, Karen. This post spoke encouragement into my heart and soul. As a pastor’s wife, I have been asked the tough questions. Sometimes it’s hard for me to help others find hope until I have found it myself. I have found my words in writing and speaking are more free when they come out of the dark places. When we realize God is still good–not matter what happens.
Amen. Thank you, Karen.
Karen, this is so powerful! You’ve smoothed out all my jumbled thoughts about what I want to encourage people with as they walk through the deep darkness. Praying for the Light to shine bright in your dark places.
Karen, since you “are” music–you know you are!–my heart went straight to the little dear, profound song: “God is sooooo good. God is sooooo good. God is soooo good, He’s sooooo good to me!” I’ve sung that when tears were rolling down my cheeks and everything hurts and life was just wrong. Yet, because God is so good, I am calmed and love Him more–and start again! I pray it’s allllll good for you today, too.
Karen, what a heartfelt post! I so appreciate and respect the fact that you have taken on this ministry to writers in pain. Press on!
“And our most important words of all: the words we share about God.”
Thank you, Karen, for reminding me today of the glorious weight of this. Bless you.