I struggle with anxiety. And whether or not you did before, if you’re a mother, you probably do now. It seems that along with the standard-issue black yoga pant, new mommy-dom also comes with a healthy dose of anxiety and guilt. I am writing this sitting on the floor of my bathroom peripherally watching the top of my child’s head as it bobs up and down over the side of the tub. And I jump at every odd noise or lack thereof, sure she’s somehow managed to submerge her oversized head under the 1/9 of an inch of water she’s sitting in. See… the mommy-hood, it’s chock full of thugs!
I recently went on this long journey with God through a pile of doubt around his goodness. It has been months since I last posted on the topic because I needed all of that time to process what I have been learning. And while I cannot promise to do it much justice, I want to continue the conversation, because it is highly relevant and vital, as women and as the Church, to understand the goodness of God.
So back to that anxiety cocktail… if we cannot both comprehend (on some level) and accept the sovereignty and goodness of God we will never be able to peel our eyes away from those monsters under our bed.
A few months ago I had the distinct privilege of hearing Burk Parsons speak on suffering. I fidgeted excitedly in my seat, my pen racing to gather all the wisdom I could possibly drink in. I then turned to the woman next to me and in a super-mature, ministry-wife manner, gave her the “mind blown!” signal. I am like a child at Christmas when Jesus reveals new things to me, and this one was like waking up to see a shiny new bike! All of my questions answered with a neat tidy bow—ok not tidy- because let’s face it, this is not a tidy topic.
God’s goodness and sovereignty are not mutually exclusive— especially in the face of our suffering. Parsons reminded us that when we consider the place of evil in the world, we have to remember that God also has other attributes along with goodness. He is holy, for example, and just, a righteous judge.
I have often thought of the world created “good” and assume that means it was made perfect— and evil is something that has taken our perfection and devolved us into something lesser. Like a black stain on a once starkly white canvas. And yet, Parsons explained, the Bible clearly tells us that the world was not created perfect- it was good, but it allowed for sin to exist, thereby not perfect. The reality is, when sin entered the world by Adam’s choosing- all of creation became enemy territory to the Righteous God of the universe. The sin of Adam, the one God gave to be ruler over the earth, handed creation’s throne to the one who hated God.
Evil became king. And now… are you ready to have your face melted?!?…now, that same Creator God- still in control despite our perceptions- has been restraining evil. Did you catch that? He is restraining evil. It sure doesn’t feel like it most days, especially during the 5 o’clock news (or flipping through Facebook for that matter). But, if God had allowed our full potential of evil to be realized we would have killed each other off years ago.
So the question then is no longer why do we have war, famine, death, child pornography…etc, etc…? It is, why has God not lifted his hand and allowed us to cannibalize each other as our nature so desires? More so, why did this God release his restraint on evil for one single moment in time, allowing the fullness of sin and its natural ramifications to be unleashed on himself instead of on me?
So here I sit, watching those sweet green/brown eyes peek at me over the tub and I am awash in gratitude. Not because I am pious or especially good at loving God. But because I am not, and he still allows me to wake up and bathe my children. He still allows me to walk through the fire and watch as my feet hit flame and whispers, “You see terror where there is no terror. I. Am. God.”Psalm 53:5
And as I dry off her tiny hands and kiss her damp apple cheeks I will breathe in her fragility and remember that this God, the one who tells the oceans where to begin and end, made the Leviathan to frolic. Surely he can handle the tiny people he’s given me to love. His sovereignty gave him the right to choose who receives the due punishment, and his goodness means he took it onto his shoulders. He will continue to act in the same accord toward me. Though his mysteries and valleys of fire may send shivers down my spine, they are nothing compared to the flow of wrath that he dammed with his own body so that I might swim in the living waters. And I am confident I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living…and when I don’t, he is still good.