I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the goodness of God and faith. I think growing up going to church, it was always assumed that we knew and believed in the fundamental goodness of God. We sang hymns about it and repeated it to each other so often that sometimes, I’ll admit, it became kind of like a joke: someone would share an annoyance from their week and punctuate it with “but God is good…all the time”.
But what does it mean to really believe that God is good especially when your circumstances aren’t? I’ve struggled a lot in previous years with mental health problems, and as a youth counselor and even as a friend, I’ve encountered so many people who have asked me or even begged me to help them understand why a loving God would let them go through this.
I don’t have all the answers. While I’ve experienced radical healing by the grace of God, I don’t know why other people don’t always experience the same healing when they come to Him. I don’t know why God blesses some people more than others. I have no idea why some people are born into loving and supportive families while others aren’t.
Through advising others through the college admissions process, I have sat with so many students who have done everything in their power to package their application perfectly and don’t get into their dream school. To this day, I still don’t know why I did.
These are questions I wrestle with often, but maybe they aren’t the most important ones. At the end of the day, I have no control over these things, and based on my limited life experience, that’s probably a good thing. The question isn’t how we can make the world more fair/less random, it’s how we should move forward.
According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is “the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It might seem childlike and anti-intellectual to believe in this way. As someone who likes approximately zero uncertainty in her life, I can attest that this is very difficult, but God doesn’t call us to blindly follow him with no evidence of his provision/goodness.
He’s given us his word which not only points us to the ultimate assurance of his love for us, Jesus’ death on the cross, but also gives us story after story of regular people who had to step out in faith even when it didn’t make sense. He called Abraham to move away from everything and everyone he knew at the ripe old age of 75 (Genesis 12). He brought David into the wilderness when he was one step away from the throne (1 Samuel 19). And He brought Philip away from his ministry in Samaria to speak to the Ethiopian (Acts 8).
In their lives, and in many more, God calls people to walk with him and join into the bigger story he’s telling with humanity, and each time they step out in faith, God provides and shows them that he is worthy of that trust which in turns strengthens their faith. On that foundation, I’ve found myself stepping out in faith in little ways and then bigger ways because each time I do, I become more and more convinced of the fundamental goodness of God.
In the last 20 years, God has never let me down. That’s not to say that everything has been smooth, but I’ve watched as God has thwarted my little plans and invited me to a bigger one, and I can say with confidence that his way was better than I could have imagined. I need constant reminders of that truth. I think faith is daring to hope expectantly that God is good in this instance too, even when you can’t see it and then acting accordingly, and since God is good, he’s faithful to meet us there.
A version of this article was first published on the Yale Logos Blog