Did He deserve my praise because of what He had done for me, or because He was God?
I think we all know the correct answer to this question, the church answer. But do we know why and do we truly believe that God is good no matter what our circumstances?
I recently had a serious health scare that landed me first in the hospital and then on an operating table. For several days (which seemed like an eternity), the “C” word (cancer) was used many times as a possible cause for the problems I was experiencing. I was transferred to a hospital nearby in order to have a surgical oncologist perform my operation.
If you'd like to read more about how The Lord walked with me through this difficult time, check out my post called, Spiritual Drought. But for now, He is leading me to tell a different story.
A couple weeks after the surgery I received the wonderful news that there was no cancer found. What an answer to prayer! Days later, I returned to church for the first time. During the worship, as we stood to sing and praise the Lord, I felt so truly grateful for the healing the Lord had provided. I was happy to be back with my people and to be feeling somewhat normal again. But a strange question shot through my mind, almost as if God Himself was asking. What if He hadn’t healed me? Was He still good? Did He deserve my praise because of what He had done for me or because He was God? After all, the lady in front of me buried her daughter just months before, and another friend her husband. A young boy standing nearby, who has since passed, was in the middle of battling his own life threatening illness right then. There were scenarios all around me and even circumstances in my own life that had turned out much differently than anyone wanted. So what did I make of this and what was true about God’s goodness?
I believe in the sovereignty of God - that He knows what is best and that He has a plan. James 4:13-14 reminds us that our lives are in the hands of God and we ourselves should remember that we aren’t promised another second. It is only by His will that we live another day. I also believe in the power of prayer. I know that it touches God’s heart when His people come to Him in desperation and plead for His healing power. 2 Kings 20 tells the story of King Hezekiah. God reveals to Hezekiah that his life is over and he needs to prepare for the end. But Hezekiah cries out to God and God answers, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.” 2 Kings 20:5
As a side note, let me ask, why is it that we are so surprised when God answers our prayers? While I was in the hospital having tests run and waiting for surgery, I looked at Jordan and said, “I think something is wrong!” “Why? Are you hurting?” he asked. “No, I’m not having any pain and that’s not normal.” I told him. “Something must be wrong.” At this point, we hadn’t told many people that I was sick because we had no idea what was going on, but Jordan quickly reminded me of the friends and family we had asked to be praying. One of the main things we had asked them to pray for was that God would ease the pain. Instead of thanking God for answered prayer, I was questioning why it was happening. “Just rest and enjoy this answered prayer.” he encouraged. Praise God!
Was my healing God’s plan all along or was it because the prayers of His people? I am so very thankful that the Lord chose to heal my body and restore my health, but I don’t know the answer to that question, and probably won’t know this side of heaven. What I do know is that He is a good God no matter what the outcome and that He deserves praise because of who He is, not for the things He does that I agree with. Fortunately, when this question shot through my mind in church that day, I had already talked through the answers with God while in the hospital. I knew that no matter what His will revealed, because of His faithfulness to me throughout my life, that I could trust His plan, even if it wasn’t what I had hoped for.
If you haven’t walked with God for long or if you aren’t a believer, this may be puzzling to you. How could you believe that a God who would allow bad things to happen, could be good? When I first became a Christian, I didn’t understand this, and there are still many days that it’s hard to comprehend. But when I chose to believe Him and trust what His Word said was true, He slowly began showing me through my life circumstances how true it was. It’s actually been through the harder times that I’ve learned to trust Him more.
It’s like the pain I experienced through my recent illness. It was horrible, excruciating pain. I would have done almost anything to make it stop. But the doctor told us that the pain actually led us to discover the problem and the need for surgery so he could remove what was bad inside. Without the pain, we never would have known it was there and it could have created horrible problems. So many times the pain and problems in life show us our true need for God’s healing in our soul instead of our body. It’s only through trusting Him that we can truly experience His goodness in our lives. Our circumstances will by no means become perfect, but the condition of our souls will be changed forever and each day of life will become sweeter.
Here are some of the promises that I can lean on when it’s hard to understand or trust God’s plan.
Jeremiah 29:11 promises that God has a plan for His children, to prosper them and not harm them, to give them a hope and a future. This does not mean that nothing bad will happen in our lives. This does not mean that we will always get what we want. There will come a day in all of our lives that we will come to the end. But when you know The Lord, He has a future plan for us, even in death.
In Matthew 26:36-42 Jesus knows he is about to die a painful, humiliating death on a cross. He is praying, asking God if there is another way so that He doesn’t have to experience this. But then He says, “Father, not as I will, but as you will.” Even Jesus didn’t want to go through this horrible situation in His life, but He knew God had a plan and that God’s will was always best.
Job is a short Old Testament book, and such an encouragement when you are going through a difficult time. Life went horribly wrong for Job, and even though he didn’t understand why, He knew God was sovereign and His ways were right.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 says, "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”
Followers of Christ are victorious even in death because Jesus has defeated sin! The only reason to fear death is if you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord, because then in death, you will have to pay for your sins yourself.
Romans 8 is filled with verses of hope for God’s children. If you don’t have time to read the entire chapter take a look at these verses:
Verse 28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
So even the bad stuff that happens in our life, God will use it for our good.
Verse 31: What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
My future is secure in Jesus! No matter what anyone does to me or what happens in my life, God is for me and my life is in His hands. I have nothing to fear.
Verses 38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Take comfort with me today friend, that as God’s children, even in pain, even in heartache, even in death, we cannot be separated from Gods’ love!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him