“Is God Still Good?” The question came into my mind as I sat in Emergency this week with my son. As we waited for results from his CT scan, that would tell us if his persistent headaches were a result of a tumour, or a brain bleed, or if in fact they were simply from a touch football head bump, doubts assailed me. “If my little guy has a brain tumour, will God still be good?”, “If God has planned this path for us, what then?” “Will I choose to trust? Will I choose to love? Will I choose to be faithful?
In life, unexpected circumstances often bring these questions to our mind. Circumstances cause us to question whether God is still good, whether he is still extending this goodness to me. I don’t know if you have ever experienced that? If perhaps the bumps along the road may have rocked you a little and you find yourself questioning?
In John 6, we read the ecstatic moment of Jesus feeding the Five Thousand. Imagine sitting there in the crowds, feeling that tug of hunger and wondering how you were going to feed yourself and the kiddoes at your feet, when all of a sudden Jesus takes two fish and five barley loaves, blesses them and proceeds to give you, your husband and your children enough food to take that hunger away. Doubt would have been the furthest thing from your mind. You would have been astounded, proclaiming to anyone who would listen just how amazing this new ‘prophet’ is (John 6:14). As you bit into the bread and fish, you would have tasted and seen the goodness of God. Like the crowds, you would have wanted to contain the situation, wanting to make Jesus king so that all your suffering, particularly at the hands of the Romans, would be gone for good.
Yet just the very next day, as you head out to listen to Jesus again, things don’t go according to your plan. You see, today, you’ve turned up ready for another meal. You left the snacks for the kids back at the place you stayed and instead trusted that Jesus would provide another meal for you, for surely he could do it. As you sit down with wonder, floating on the awe from yesterday, you hear Jesus say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (John 6:26). Hang on a minute- he isn’t going to feed you? He isn’t going to do all that you want of him? And you start to doubt. Instead of giving you more food, he is urging you to eat the bread of life- to come to him so that you won’t hunger. As he makes these declarations, people around you start to grumble. They start to question. They start to doubt. You find actually that same gnawing at your own soul- how can he be good if he won’t do what I know he can? How can I trust him if he does one thing for one person, yet holds it back the very next day?
In these moments, like the crowds on that hillside in John 6, I start to doubt and question and sometimes I even get a little angry. If God is good why isn’t he showing this goodness to me. Perhaps like me, it is watching someone suffer and waiting on a test. Perhaps other questions fill your heart and doubt starts to seep in. Questions like- Why isn’t he fixing my marriage? Why isn’t he making my child become a Christian? Why isn’t he healing my ailment? These are all good things and I want this goodness to come. I trust, I believe and I have journeyed with Jesus. However if we pause in these moments, if we still the gnawing at our soul just for a moment, the same question can be asked of us- are we seeking him because we have experienced this goodness before, or are we seeking Jesus for HIM?
As I spent those hours in the Emergency waiting room this week, my heart went through the tumultuous journey of questioning and doubt. I stroked my son’s head as he dozed on my lap and I waited and prayed. When the results came back ‘all clear’ I found that I had convinced myself the tests would be negative and even then I would choose to trust. I would seek the Saviour not because of what he could do for me, but because of who he was. In the midst of my mountain-top experiences, and in the midst of the barren valley, I would seek the Saviour not because of the landscape but because of who he is. Today dear friend, may you too seek the Saviour, not because of what he can do, but out of a recognition that there is nowhere else we can go. At the end of John 6, the crowds thin a little. When people’s growling tummies cause them to leave the feet of Jesus in frustration, Jesus asks his disciples whether they will leave him too. Peter declares a truth that I pray will seep into your soul- “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).