The Goodness of God in Suffering

A couple weeks ago I posted a short reflection on 2021: On how quiet and sweet and gentle it was. After the major medical trauma of 2020, God gave me some space to let my body, heart, and mind heal. I wrote about it a few days before Covid hit our household.

At first, from within this Covid hurricane, I thought that perhaps I had posted about the year too soon. The superstitious part of me thought I must have jinxed the last couple weeks of 2021. But we who know the heart of the Father know that’s a lie. God doesn’t play those games.

Perhaps, however, this sweet, gentle year helped prepare my body, mind, and spirit for the intensity of this physical, emotional, and spiritual battle. Yes, Covid has hit us hard—really hard. It’s not over, but it’s also nothing compared to my God.

But the same gentle God who calmed the waves around me the past year is the God who is holding my heart, my mind, my lungs, and all of our bodies in His hand in the midst of the hurricane now raging around us.

He’s good, and we are blessed, not because of the presence of health, wealth, success, or the absence of illness, suffering, grief, or hardship.

That #blessed theology makes no sense to me: Not when our Lord Himself came straight into all of the pain, all of the suffering, all of the poverty, and all of the brokenness of body: we just celebrated that advent, remember? Not when smack in the middle of the teaching of our Lord we find the beatitudes: what #blessed really means: those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the meek, the peacemakers, those persecuted for His name, the lowly and poor.

So I continue to stand (or lie propped up on pillows) solidly by my former post. My God is gentle and kind. He is good, and frankly, the suffering part of life offers an acutely clear vantage point from which we can come to know the kingdom of heaven.

I’m thankful for the goodness of God in all of its forms. I’m thankful for His goodness in the living, in the dying, in the forming, in the breaking, in the feasting, in the fasting, in the pain, in the pleasure, in the grieving, and in the rejoicing. If we don’t come to know Him in all of the seasons, we struggle to trust Him with all of our seasons.

So from this short season of suffering that feels infinite from the inside, I stand with every ounce of courage that I have and with all of the strength of our Lord and Savior, and I declare in victory that He is good, He is faithful, He loves us fiercely, and He is ever-present. 2021 is still beautiful. It just got a lot more colorful in its last weeks.

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Pastor Al Gilbert

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