Ever been to one of those church services where the leader makes a statement and the congregation (or those who are familiar with it) respond with another statement? A common one sometime back went like this..
**leader**: God is good
**congregation**: All the time!
**leader**: And all the time..
**congergation**: God is good!
If you’ve never sat through one, they can be as cheesy as that makes it sound – sometimes they’re not though and that usually depends on how many times you’ve encountered such practices (or perhaps whether you’ve read “The Visitation” by Frank Peretti :o) ). Anyway, I digress…
How accurate is that particular meme? Is God good *all* the time? Well. yes of course he is but does it always feel that way? Try asking that of somebody who is going through a rough time and feels like God is silent. Try asking it of somebody who has encountered something which shakes their very faith to the core – perhaps the unexpected loss of a loved one. Try asking it of someone who is persecuted for their faith by their own family who days earlier showed them love. Try asking it of someone who feels like the walls are caving in and nobody cares. By the way, if you live in a world where Christians don’t feel like that – ever – then I suggest you may want to consider broadening your horizons or paying closer attention to the Christians around you.
In such situations it is quite normal, even (_especially?_) for Christians, to question the goodness of God. It is also quite usual for the Christians around them to give them the equivalent of “keep your chin up” type advice. Scriptures are quoted, demonic “presence” is prayed against and the “victim’s” apparent “lack of faith” is usually brought up – in a loving way of course. We who are not in those places (at the time) need to remember that such responses are not always as helpful as they seemed in your head. And thos eof us going through such moments, need to remember that sometimes the words which seem lacking in thought have behind them a heart which just wants to help in any way they can – a heart of love. Having recently been in a place where I questioned God’s purpose in my situation, I can testify to how good it was to receive the opposite response from the Christians around me. Encouragement without patronisation, support without even implied finger pointing, walking beside rather than before – all these responses showed me what love is. I was truly blessed by the way my brother’s and sister’s in Christ walked with me through my own personal valley, kept reminding me of the grace of God (through action more than words) and whilst giving me space — never allowed me to slip into a dangerous solitude.
At times when you are questioning your faith; your life and your God, you need people round you who will treat you like it is okay to do so but not permit you to forget why you first had those things. If you are in that place, don’t blame those trying to help – even if they are not actually helping. Look to the heart behind their actions or words and respond to that. If you are not in a valley, try to remember how it felt last time you were and try not to overwhelm the other one with your gestures or advice. Give and be receptive of support to or from the Christians around you or as Jesus commanded us: “Love one another as I have loved you”. Such love reminds us that God *is* good, *all* the time.