***Edited for better reader-comprehension***

Some things happened a few weeks ago that sent my trust in God into a tailspin. I won't go into detail about what occurred, but because of these events I started to wonder how God could possibly be called consistently good. I started to wonder why He would choose to respond "yes" to certain requests and "no" to other requests that were equally if not more significant. I started to wonder if praying was worth the breath I would waste.

You know the stages of grief that start out with denial then anger? That's exactly where I was. The first week I was able to continue my daily routine relatively undisturbed at least on the surface. I chatted with neighbors, laughed with my daughters, pondered my way through the budget with Jeremy, listened in church, but inside my brain and emotions were reeling; it felt as though a tornado were whipping my thoughts and emotions past my sight so quickly that I could not grasp any one thought and follow it to a logical conclusion. I cried out desperately to God on behalf of all involved, begging Him to miraculously turn this situation into something good. Begging Him to work in hearts to draw us all closer to Him. It took about a week, but eventually the reality of what has happened sunk in. The tornado slowed enough that facts are now visible. It is somewhat of a relief because the lack of equilibrium the tornado brought was unsettling, but there are days when I long for the whirlwind to return with it's confusing numbness. Now that some facts are visible, some consequences are visible, too. Consequences to many more people than just the person who should be paying the consequences. Consequences that are too costly, too painful, too far-reaching to realize their extent right now. As more and more of my thoughts were able to reach their logical conclusions, they caused torrential tears of shock and pain. Those tears in turn transformed into strong, ugly, battle-ready anger and disappointment directed at God.

What is a stronger word than disappointment? Because disappointment is not even close to the correct term. Disgust, maybe? Discouragement? Disenchantment?

I felt like God's true character had finally been revealed to me, and it was not what I believed it to be. Not pure. Not consistent. Not good.

In The Jesus Storybook Bible that I am reading to the girls everyday the first story is about the serpent, satan, whispering to Eve the first lie, "Does God REALLY love you?"

I struggled to pray on, but I began wondering why I was putting in the effort. If God did not say "yes" to someone else's prayer about preventing the situation, why would He be bothered to say "yes" to this prayer of mine about turning the situation to good for all involved? Those questions led to doubt about the true character of God, and the unpleasant ambiguous feelings created by doubt led to anger.

"GOD! WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN? HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF GOOD? HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF? ..... I don't know that *I* want to live with You, anymore."

Have you ever fought with your best friend? Have you ever argued to the point of distance with your husband or wife? Has someone whom you expected to be a permanent, reliable part of your life ever let you down so drastically that there were conflicting feelings in your heart? Feelings like "STAY AWAY!" and "DON'T LEAVE ME!" shouting out at the same time?

That's how I've been feeling about God.

I'm in the middle of memorizing Ephesians chapter four (I've been in the middle of it for about three months now, because I'm slow like that), and verses 14 and 15 keep rattling around in my head. At the most inconvenient times, mind you.

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ."

I knew that I didn't want to base my belief system on circumstances and whatever my emotional reaction to them happened to be. If I did that, my belief system would change whenever my emotions dictated (tossed back and forth by the waves). I also knew that I didn't want to base my belief system on what others tell me is true because who knows where that research came from or what miscommunications or misconceptions occurred during that process (blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming). I want to be solidly planted on TRUTH alone. Regardless of where that path leads. (Ephesians says it leads to maturity in Christ.)

Jeremy and I briefly discussed The Matrix movie where an entire population of people lived a wonderful make-believe life. For them, choosing to seek the truth led to bleakness and war. Which is the better choice?

I've decided to choose Truth, even if maturity in Christ is not a pleasant, easy or pretty thing.

Huh. I guess that's a "so far" statement to quote Beth Moore in her Annointed, Transformed, Redeemed Bible study. Last night, as I cried myself to sleep, I told God I DIDN'T want to choose maturity in Christ if it meant this much pain for myself and others. But last night was BEFORE God came and talked to me.

You people reading this need to know that what is pouring out of my keyboard is not at all what I planned to type right now. These words are streaming straight from my heart and surprising me as I type them.

This past week (the week where I faced the situation full-fledged, the week where my anger burned and my confusion confused me), I have struggled back and forth with the "GOD, STAY FAR AWAY!" and the "GOD! DON'T LEAVE ME!" feelings. Ephesians convinced me not to make any rash decisions right now, and this post by Liisa (my friend who's husband has died) helped persuade me to hold on. There is more happening than I can currently see. At least, that what the "Don't leave me!" side was telling me.

The "Stay far away from me!" side wondered is God good? Does He plan to say yes to my current prayers about this situation? Does He even care? That last question was hard to ask, because I know God. He's my friend. We enjoy life together and hang out together and have a grand time laughing together and loving together. We've been through HARD TIMES. We've been through life and death situations. We've been through prayers that He has said "no" to. We've been through silences. We've been through devastations. He's always been there. I know He cares. At least, I think I know He cares. I began evaluating my relationship with God: remembering events when He communicated directly to me, sifting through nuances to see if I had misunderstood His personality. And through it all I kept telling Him, "You don't have to prove Yourself to me, because You've already done that several times in the past, but could You just tell me what kind of prayer answerer You plan to be? Could You just help me understand a little bit of what's going on here? There are so many details and so many people affected by this; whenever I start to think I understand all the repercussions, I turn a corner and find a whole new set of results and feelings that overwhelm. I just need to know You're God. You're good. You're trustworthy."

I'm so thankful that He welcomes honest questions. I'm so thankful that He doesn't turn away from fearful doubters.

And you are never going to believe what happened next.

1. Jeremy has been away on a business trip for several days. Around midnight last night, I was writing all my questions and rantings to God in my prayer journal (it was the first time I have clearly attempted to put all these random accusations into understandable words), and Jeremy called to say goodnight. When I told him what was going on in my heart, he was able to immediately help me bring several aspects of life into focus, weed through the outlying issues and get straight to defining the real problem. I know that sounds cold and clinical, but it helped me let go of the lesser problems so that I didn't feel so overwhelmed. Then with my big problem defined, I could search for solutions. In the meantime, Mercy began vomiting in her crib, so all forward progress was halted, but I hung up the phone with a sense of purpose and hope, and I slept peacefully...when I was finally able to get back to my bed.

2. This morning, a lady from church called me. She told me that God had clearly prompted her to call and tell me the following message. Then she proceeded to define thoughts that I had not yet attempted to evaluate myself. She described EXACTLY how I had been feeling (even feelings that I had not yet discussed with Jeremy), and she told me, "Missy, God loves you. He IS good, always. He knows you are overwhelmed not just by this big situation, but also by many smaller ones that are swarming you right now," and she named a few of them. She spoke specific things that she could have no knowledge of on her own, and it was word for word what I had said to God in my prayer journal the night before. Then she prayed for me. She prayed that I would know truth. She prayed that I would be useful. She prayed for my relationship with God to be sturdy and wonderful. She prayed specific requests for everyone in all of the multiple situations surrounding my life right now. She had not yet finished praying when I realized God was hugging me.

He stopped the spinning of the earth and the holding up of the stars and the polishing of the sun to speak directly to me. He used my own carefully worded questions to give me specifically worded answers. While Rosemary's voice sounded in my ear, it was so obviously God's voice speaking to my heart. In the movie Arsnic and Old Lace when Johnny comes home with a distorted face from too many bad plastic surgeries, and he is trying to convince his aunts that it is really him, he uses instances from their mutual past that only family members would know about as proof. That's what God did for me yesterday. He used my own privately written prayer journal sentences and put them in Rosemary's mouth to prove that it was Him, to prove that He loved me, to prove that He was aware of the situation and WITH us all.

And He didn't have to. Who am I that God would feel the need to prove Himself to me? I'll tell you who I am. I am His daughter. He loves me! Just like He loves every single person on this planet.

Have you ever been hugged by a Holy, Powerful, GOOD God? Peace and joy and absolutely certain security flooded inside me. I'd like to tell you right now how it felt, but the only thing I can express is the lack of tension. The lack of stress. The knowledge that things are just as they always have been -- life hasn't changed -- but somehow, everything is different. All the stress I had been storing in my muscles released at once. My body felt as though it had just received the most relaxing massage known to man. My face was not wide enough for my smile to extend the way it needed to. I jumped up from the rocking chair with the phone still pressed to my ear. My friend continued to pray, not knowing what God was doing on the other end of the line. My joy was so big, it could not stay contained inside my body, and it tried to come out of my mouth. I stammered through an attempt to tell Rosemary what was happening, but there are not words to describe God's hugs. I thought I'd be able to tell you guys what it was like, because I'm better at writing than I am at finding the best words out loud. Unfortunately, I'm realizing now that even by writing about it, I cannot express it fully.

All I know is this: God is GOOD. He can make ANY SITUATION work for the best, but we have to let go of our death grip on our own blueprints and bow to His unseen prints.

Trust me, friends. HE IS GOOD.
5 Responses
  1. Beth Says:

    Wow...wow wow wow wow....!!!!!!!!
    Amazing post!
    Hugs...
    Beth


  2. Suanna Says:

    Thanks Missy. I've been struggling with something and just came to terms with it this weekend, but some of what you said is so true. God had to peel back myself so I could see the big picture and know what I needed to do. I feel so much better now that I know for sure what I should do and am taking action on it.


  3. Christine Says:

    I found you through Liisa's blog. I understand completely about the Jesus Hug. Many years ago, I gave God a challenge. I was feeling hurt and alone. I prayed, “I really need a hug right now. But there is no way You can do that.” Moments after that I felt comfort inside me like I do when someone gives me a hug. Tears poured out from the depths of my soul. I did not feel the arms of God touching my skin, but I did feel His amazing love touching my hurting heart. Since my husband went to be with the Lord, there has been many times where I told the Lord I just needed to crawl up into His lap and let His loving arms hold me. Faithfully, He has.
    I praise the Lord, Missy, that He is hugging you and showing you that He Is Good:)


  4. Que Says:

    Well... It's not a GOD hug but here's a long distance hug anyway.


  5. missbates Says:

    I appreciate your transparency. I was also reminded of Puddleglum in C.S. Lewis' "The Silver Chair." The witch said there was no sun, no Narnia, no Aslan. Puddleglum said he would rather believe in those things than her world. Of course, that is the fight of faith. To hold onto what God says about himself when life seems to be saying he is different. Thanks for sharing.


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