Have we been believing in the wrong God?
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
The last few months I have been wrestling (more than I ever have before) with an enormous question.
Do I really believe in the God of the Bible?
I have friends who have told me they cannot believe in a God who "sends" anyone to Hell. Other friends have said they cannot believe in a God who would bring or allow pain or suffering into their lives. Or believe in a God who doesn't always allow for our physical healing. These are really personal and painful questions to walk through, but I believe we need to wrestle with them until peace breaks forth. And I am definitely not qualified to write this, I am actually in tears as I think about how inadequate I feel, yet God has taught me so much and if it can help even one of you get to the other side of your questions, I want to battle through my own insecurities of not having the right words and share how I have found peace in this. So here it goes.
My beloved husband died in my arms when I was 24, and oh how I adored him, oh how I wept each day I realized he wasn't going to walk in at the end of the day. I was a single pregnant mom with an almost two year old and miles away from my family. It was so hard, yet God was so good and so near to me. So much good came out of such pain and there really was deep joy in the midst of the storms. A few years later, God blessed me with another wonderful man, we married and began to build a new life together, but we realized blended families are an entirely new struggle and that we would not be living “our fairytale” any time soon. I had subconsciously expected I would get a “free pass” after walking through such pain (didn't I deserve that?), and thought John 16:33 (In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world") applied to other Christians, or that it must mean you get one trial per Christian life, max! I am the eternal optimist.
The pressures of work, kids, trying to get pregnant (with no success for 2.5 long years), then new babies and the journey of marriage took its toll on us and we grew weary. We continued to look to God, but somewhere along the way I began to get angry with Him and doubt Him. I began to ask why. Why more struggle? Why me? Why not everyone else? Why can't I just not care about some things and be more easy going? Why do I let this all bother me? My emotions were beginning to fight against the God I have always loved and I've known has loved me and I doubted Him.
Did He actually love me? Is He actually good? I mean, I would not allow my kids to walk through all of this, and I am God's child, so why is He? I put my human feelings and ideas of what should be, onto the Creator of the universe, as if my ways should be Gods, as if I knew better than Him and He should think like I do. I let my emotions lead me into a pit of self pity instead of pursuing any truth. And then, I was confronted with the same question Peter was, Jesus said: “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:67-69) I fell to my knees (literally) and sobbed, because I DO believe that Jesus is the Holy one of God, That He is the true and living and eternal God, and that He really did come to this earth and His resurrection is historically true (and there are many, MANY secular accounts of this- not only the bible). Here is at least one website with incredible resources https://www.discovery.org/ and https://creation.com/
So I was faced with this, if God is true and good and can do nothing to harm us out of malicious intent, (1 John 1;5, Luke 18:19) then it must be me who is in error... and that is an absolute blow to my pride and how I have elevated myself above God.
If God is not in error, then it must be me...
Western christianity has done us no favours. It has become a watered down gospel that does not truly save, but causes people to eventually walk away from God and doubt HIM. The western gospel says, come to Jesus and He will make you happy and prosper in all you do, physically, financially and in your health. I mean since He is a good and loving God, wouldn't He want us not to suffer? This western christianity preaches that we are so loved by God that we deserved Jesus to come and save us, that He couldn't have heaven without us. That we deserve to live #ourbestlifenow. And when we see life isn't going the way we wanted, it's easy to become angry at God and see him as unfair and even mean.
But the problem with that belief is that it's not in the Bible. The God I just described is not the God described in the Bible and I have had to come to terms with that.
The biblical truth is that, God is good and we are not. None of us, but we are sinful, and more than we think we are (Romans 3:23) and God is Holy (exodus 15:11, Psalms 96:9) and we have sinned against Him. Our sins have earned us death (Romans 6:23) and yet it is only by Gods grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we can have a right standing before God. We escape the punishment of our sin through Jesus' gift to us!! And what makes this so incredible and how I know God loves me is that I DID NOT deserve it!!! And yet God is rich in mercy! We deserve NOTHING, yet He gave us Jesus Who is all we need!
But instead of believing this, we have created and desired a false gospel that lacks saving truth and encourages a love of self instead of a love and knowledge for the true God of the Bible. It is a gospel that doesn't teach how terribly destroying sin really is to US, and how it seperates us from an eternal Holy God. Ultimately SIN is our biggest dilemma, and that's what we need to take care of first.
So now how does this tie into suffering?
Well, with this false gospel we believe we don't deserve suffering. It's not wrong to be sold out for Jesus (the real one) but still have little nuances of, "If God is good THEN...He wouldn't allow this or that."But I cannot let my feelings dictate what is true. What is true for my feelings will not be true for everyone, so who is right? We need a standard.
Otherwise we can create a god that does not exist... God does want us to have joy and peace, but He is a God who also allows suffering, and is STILL good! Therefore His purposes have to be good as well (Romans 8;28). And He is glorified through those purposes.
What I have viewed as useless, painful and unnecessary God has viewed as purposeful. He loves us enough to not let us stay as we are, but to make us better! To use these trials and struggles to shape us and mould us to be more like Jesus, and not just that, but that in our weakness we will see our great need for God! And thus be satisfied in Him alone. He created us to need Him, and we often forget that, but as we endure, we see that He is faithful, and rich in mercy and compassion. He is our strength and the only one that will satisfy our every longing, and that is deeply hopeful and comforting.
These are heavy, heavy topics, I do not fully understand why He allowed my husband to die, or why I had other struggles that don't go away in my timing, but I have seen much purpose in it all. I don't admit to knowing why God allows some people to CHOOSE to go to hell and not others, but I know that God is trustworthy and that while I may not understand I also realize that by FAITH I trust God.
I do not have the mind of God, i am finite and He is infinite. He is the potter and I am the clay. My mind and my emotions and my standard of what is true is what is in need of shaping by the one who made me and knows far better than I.
And He is GOOD and He is Kind! He loves us more than we can ever fathom And He is fully worthy of our trust!