Good Theology for Bad Days

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on February 7, 2020. You can find it here.)

God, You’re so good.

God, You’re so good.

God, You’re so good,

You’re so good to me.

I choked the simple chorus out on Sunday morning despite a lump rising in my throat. Weeks of waiting for the results of a major medical test numbed my ability to belt out the lyrics with the same gusto as those around me. Instead, a pitiful, broken string of truth fell quietly from my mouth, each word a salty tear.

There are just seasons you have to convince your soul of God’s goodness, you know?*

Sometimes it’s easy to believe. Your family is thriving, the job’s going well, winter melts into spring. During other seasons, though, we relate to Job much more easily than we’d prefer. How can we prompt ourselves out of our feelings and into the throne room when it’s hardest? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Remember that, no matter how bad things might seem, it’s not even close to what we deserve. I recently heard a pastor say that their family motto is, “It’s better than hell.” Jesus took the worst of our suffering upon Himself. Bringing to mind the waves of grace we’ve been shown—both macro and micro—makes it easier to bear the gathering clouds.
  2. Remember that nothing that truly matters is at stake. Our identity is safe. Our final destination is safe. Our standing before God is safe. Only the temporary is affected. When the ground underneath our feet starts rumbling, the gospel provides a firm foundation unavailable anywhere else.
  3. Remember that we never walk alone. Jesus has traveled this path before us somehow in His own story; as the great High Priest, He is intimately acquainted with our pain. Besides that, He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Our grief is a magnet pointed heavenward—He’s always close to the brokenhearted.  
  4. Remember that God is still on His throne. It can be easy to doubt His sovereignty, power, and goodness, but trusting the heart of the Father is a life raft for a soul in tumultuous seas. He’s lovingly bent on giving us what He knows we need rather than what we think we want. We won’t know the depth of this mercy until we stand before Him in heaven. 
  5. Remember that this is not the end of the story. Jesus’ triumph at the ultimate showdown means that our bad news can never be a death sentence. He defanged the ruin we live in, and now even the worst circumstances can only be turned for our good (Romans 8:28). And better than that is the forever of ten thousand kinds of happy waiting for us on the other side of this life. All sad things will come untrue as we enter into ever deepening shades of glory throughout eternity.

Because of the wealth of gospel resources we have inherited through Christ, our blackest days are worth facing. And we can sing, together with all the saints who have walked the road of suffering before us, “God is so good, He’s so good to me.”  

UPDATE: If you’re curious about how the medical results worked out, hours after sending in this piece for publishing on the BCNE’S blog, we got the call. Our baby girl, due in July, has been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. God had already wrapped these truths freshly around my heart for when I needed them most. He really is so good.

*If you’re interested in exploring this topic further, Timothy Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is an excellent book for both theoretical and practical purposes.

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