We watched a war movie the other night that’s based on a book. True story. I can’t get it out of my mind. I wish I could. Because it has a very un-Hollywood ending. Its full of irony but not the kind I usually like. I believe the book was written first and then an ending so unimaginable played out after the fact.
I already knew what happened but watching the movie brought home for me again, how unfair life is. I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth. What a waste. I don’t understand in any way the purpose for the death of a good guy, who got it together, loved his family and tried to help others. It will be one of those questions, that will be first off my lips upon reaching heaven. Because honestly, God I don’t get it. It makes me mad. Perhaps because this isn’t just an isolated case. Maybe that’s why it tastes so vile. We all know someone or have endured ourselves, a similar story of unfairness, loss and grief.
I get why bad stuff happens. Sin entered in and now we live in a fallen world. Blah blah blah. It doesn’t make it any easier to swallow the wicked always winning and the good guys always losing. I’m tired of that crappy ending. Seriously. Aren’t you?
So we’re left grappling. Trying to grab something of substance that will make sense in a makes-no-sense world.
I read somewhere or heard (I can’t remember the source now) that, it’s not what God does but who He is.
I got a dose of understanding of this concept this spring. I was driving home after a trip. It had been a good time away. I had no need to feel fear. But I was having a major anxiety attack. I wrestled through it for an hour. Going over worst case scenarios and what they would look like. What would happen if God didn’t answer my prayer how I wanted? That fear compounded the original one. Then I remembered this statement. It’s not what God does but who He is.
I thought about it. He was good even if what I didn’t want to happen, in the end happened. How could this be? What made God good if He wasn’t going to do what I wanted?
What made God good, was He wasn’t going to high tail it out of there. He might allow it to happen but He would stay by my side and give me what I needed to get through it. The thought gave me peace. I understood the statement thoroughly that day in the car. It had nothing to do with what He did or allowed, it was all about who He is. And He was much more powerful, compassionate, loving and wise than the bad I was fearing.
A couple months later, as I’m contemplating the horrible ending of a good man, I’m again filled with doubt. Fearing something that hasn’t happened and dealing with real, ugly endings are two distinct things. Aren’t they? Fearing something that hasn’t happened yet and probably won’t, is different from dealing with a real life nightmare. Where the bad guys have won this battle and looks like a slew more.
How does one understand this concept when bad stuff is going on in our lives right now. Because some days, God doesn’t seem like someone I would like, or can trust. He’s not doing what I like or want, because He’s allowing bad stuff to happen to me, those I love and sometimes to people I don’t even know. It hurts. It’s confusing. It feels like betrayal.
As I’ve wrestled this in my mind, I’ve come to understand that there is no difference between living in fear and living in a nightmare when it comes to who God is. The circumstances change but God does not. Ever. He is always the same God, past, present, and future. Feelings are not reliable. Neither is our heart. They are the fickle ones, not God. Our feelings change as readily as our circumstances. God remains the constant.
If He remains the same, perhaps we need to discover exactly who He is so we can depend on the One who is unchanging rather than those things, and people, that can change so quickly?
This is who God is and it’s just a fraction of His character:
God is good. Psalm 136:1
He will never leave us. Deut 31:6
He loves us with an unfailing love. Jer 31:3
He works out everything for our good. Rom 8:28
Again, these are just a handful of God’s characteristics but good ones to remember when we are trying to understand it’s not what He does but who He is, in our own particular horrible, very bad days.
Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. Jer 31:3 NLT