When I was going through my depression, I kept telling myself that God did not love me, that He did not care about me, and that He enjoyed watching me suffer. I had a skewed perception of His character. I’ve now come to the realization that even when we are not struggling with depression, we often have a hard time believing in God’s benevolence towards us. We constantly doubt His goodness. We say prayers, yet we are already convinced that they will not be answered. We plead before God because we tell ourselves that if He does not see how much we really need something, He will not take us seriously or grant our wishes. We hope for good things, but we ruminate on everything that could turn sour. We tell ourselves: God is good… but mostly towards others… good things never come my way.
You know, a little bit like children would say:
“It’s always him.”
“It’s never me.”
“Why not me?“
“It’s not fair. She’s always first.”
“No one ever buys me anything.”
“I never get to choose.”
“I’m always stuck in the middle seat in the back of the car.”
“You’re mean! I hate you!”
You get the point…
Sometimes in our relationship with God, it’s as if we were living in our childhood. We are unable to figure things out and recognize God’s goodness towards us. We see Him as an unworthy and unfair parent who systematically puts others before us. However, we forget all the times when we get to go first.
Message to Those Who do Not Relate…
I know that the best of us have read these words thinking:
“Of course not! I obviously know that God is good! He is full of benevolence. He is a God of love. I don’t ever doubt it.”
I would like to challenge these people:
Have you ever waited for months, or even years, without receiving an answer to a prayer and then telling yourself that God has surely forgotten about you?
Have you ever wondered how God could allow you to suffer so much?
Do you automatically submit your plans and projects to God?
Have you ever felt anger or frustration when something you really cared about was not moving forward or was just failing?
The truth is that we constantly doubt God’s plans and His intentions for us. It’s as if as soon as the serpent convinced Adam and Eve that God had a hidden agenda by forbidding them to eat from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, it triggered a never-ending cycle of doubt. It’s as if from that moment onwards, humans continued to doubt the intrinsic goodness and love of God.
We sing hymns that proclaim that we are loved by God, yet we do not trust Him with what is most precious to us: our children, our relationships, our money, our families, our sexuality, our career… we have so many hidden secrets and dreams because we think that God does not really want us to be happy… He only cares about our spiritual life… Right?
When we believe that God is good, we do not question what He allows in our lives because we know that He loves us and that He has our best interest at heart. (Jer 29:11; Rom 8:28).
God’s Character Doesn’t Change
If a child asks for ice cream and the parent refuses to give one, no one calls into question the kindness or love of the parent towards their child. There can be dozens of reasons to refuse the child’s request: it can make them sick, it’s their 3rd ice cream of the day, they don’t have money, etc… Likewise, a teenager who thinks that their mom or dad is completely unreasonable for giving them a certain curfew will not question the true nature of his or her parents. In either of these cases, the child can become angry for a moment and stealthily believe that his or her parents want to crush their joy. But after a while, the child forgets their anger and runs back to their parents.
The problem is not in doubting the fulfillment or the purpose of a situation. The problem is not even in doubting God’s intentions towards us. The problem is in not believing in the love and goodness of God. It is in attributing a characteristic to God that does not really belong to Him. It is in mistaking the character of the enemy with that of God. When we do not truly believe that God loves us, we do not succeed in building a relationship with Him.
Papa, I thank you for who you are. You are love and goodness. I pray that no matter what happens, no matter what your answers to our prayers may be, that you would help us remember that your goodness is infinite and that your mercies never end; they are renewed each morning because your faithfulness is great! Lam 3:22-23. Amen!