Monday, July 14, 2014

Is God Good?

Many Christians suffering from severe depression have found themselves beginning to question if God is actually good. We may wonder how a loving, gracious God could allow such unrivalled suffering, and not end it instantly by His power.

During the blackest phase of depression, I kept reminding myself that God was faithful, but as the days dragged into weeks and months with no improvement in sight, I despaired and wrote diary entries like this:

27th March 1990 – How will I ever trust You again? I’ll have great confidence that every time I go through a major crisis, You’ll do nothing, You’ll say nothing, You’ll do nothing…I know You are Faithful and True, I know You can do anything You want. I know it’s Your will to heal all who are sick or under Satan’s power. I know You love us and want to help us…and I know that You will help me out of this nightmare one day…But why oh why do You tarry so long…what DO YOU WANT FROM ME!”

One problem is our modern mindset - we have forgotten what it means to wait. We have become impatient, expecting instant service, instant dinners, fast food restaurants, fast internet connection, motorised transport, and so on. We apply this same thinking to our sufferings, forgetting that God works according to His timetable, not ours. When we do not get want we want from God as quickly as we desire it, typical reactions may be to question, doubt, grumble or complain.

Some who are suffering from depression accuse God of treating humanity like a science experiment. They compare us to ants, struggling to overcome obstacles and sufferings placed deliberately in our way by an impersonal, uncaring God as He conducts experiments upon us.

When I was younger, I used to study ants for hours. Once I bought an ant farm and placed a pregnant ant queen in it. Within two years, I had a thriving ant colony on my hands. I fed them, gave them water, and cared for them as treasured pets.

One day a savage summer heat-wave caused every ant in the little colony to die of dehydration. Their passing saddened me, but as they were just ants, I put the matter behind me and got on with my life.

Now is that what God did with us? When Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, resulting in the death of their spirits, did He put the matter behind Him and say, “Oh, that’s too bad, but they’re only something I created. I’ll forget about them and do something else now.”

No, that was not God’s reaction at all. In fact, the Bible tells us that God loves us so much, that even before He created the Earth, Jesus had already been chosen to save us from the curse of sin and death.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21

Although I had cared for my ants and did not want them to suffer and die, I would never have considered becoming one of them, taking their sufferings upon myself, and dying in their place so that they could live.

Yet that is what God did for us. God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, upon seeing our plight (which we brought upon ourselves through deliberate disobedience) left heaven, become human, suffered and died in our place so that we could be restored to Him. How much more proof do we need that God is good and truly loves us! Here are some Bible verses where God demonstrates His love for us through the atoning death of Jesus.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:6-8

I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:10

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

That God is not good, faithful and trustworthy is an age-old attack that Satan has been throwing at humans since the dawn of creation. This is the very attack-strategy he used against Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Genesis 3:1-5

Satan tried to convince Eve that God was holding back on her, that He could not be trusted. Eve decided to listen to Satan, the great deceiver, instead of holding to God’s Word and trusting that He was telling the truth.
“The doubt concerning God’s goodness, as Oswald Chambers so trenchantly put it, is the real root of sin. Embedded like splintered glass at the core of our souls is the suspicion that God does not have our best interests at heart. Unless that issue is exposed and dealt with, our hearts will never be truly pure.” Every Day with Jesus, Jul/Aug 2000, Fri 4 Aug, by Selwyn Hughes, CWR.

Let us be mindful that Satan deliberately attacks Christians when they are down – he targets those suffering with depression and whispers lies into their minds, trying to convince them that God is not good, that He is not faithful and trustworthy.

All of these lies were thrown at me while depressed, but this is the conclusion I reached:

20th July 90 –
I hate being so irritable and frustrated, so disturbed,
All day, every day.
And it never ends.
Oh Lord, where are You?
I feel like getting so angry with You.
I guess it all boils down to this:
Are You trustworthy or not?
I know the answer is yes.

In time, I did make a complete recovery from depression, and the Lord blessed me with a fulfilling and fruitful life. During my recovery from depression, He drew me closer to Him, showed me how to rely upon His strength, and set me free from bondages and fears that had ensnared me for decades.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Now I am the first to acknowledge that circumstances do not always turn out as we expect, but we need to keep things in perspective. We Christians are travelers passing through this world on our way to heaven. The sufferings we endure here pale into insignificance compared to the glories and blessings that await us in heaven. Most of all, they pale into grey when compared to the riches of having an eternal relationship with our loving God and Creator.

You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

Psalm 73:24-25

All verses from the NIV.


  1. Wow! I've been thinking about these same ideas all day. Thank you so much for putting it all down on words. I'll be sending some people over... =)

  2. Peter, once again you've taken the thoughts swirling in my mind and conveyed them on the screen. Thank you.

  3. That's amazing Shane. I've been working on this post for a few weeks, and finally finished it today. And thanks so much for honoring this blog again. God bless :)

    Hi Seema, you are very welcome. I've struggled through several drafts of this post when suddenly at midnight last night, it all came together.

  4. Yes, God is good, regardless of circumstance! Hard to swallow at times, but He is good!!

    Thank you Peter once again sharing your heart dear one.


  5. It is terribly difficult for me to wait on answers from GOD, sometimes.

  6. "One problem is our modern mindset - we have forgotten what it means to wait." - How often do we become impatient when we are waiting for answered prayers? We forget that God's timetable is not like ours. It was a painful process that you had gone through but I know that you have learned a lot, especially "becoming patient". And you learned to endure...
    That's great that you have another blog - wow! a Bible study through the blogosphere! Yay! God bless you and your family.

  7. Hi JBR, I know what you mean. And amen, our God truly is good. God bless you heaps today :)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Andrea, and you are not alone. I have often struggled with that very issue, as I am sure most Christians have.

    Hi Rosel, a painful process indeed, and not one I volunteered to go through, LOL. I remember back in the old days when I used to joke with my friends, "God, please give me patience and give it to me right now!" If only it were so easy...but, it was certainly worth it in the end.

  8. You put it all in proper perspective here for me, dear brother. This is a time I must learn a deeper level of trust and deal with the sin of fear, too. Thank you for your prayers. I'm grateful.

  9. This is excellent. So many need to hear this! Wow. Going to check out your other blog.

  10. I love the point you made about attitude, that we should have the attitude in us that was in Christ Jesus. I just finished a Bible Study of the book of Philippians, and it was of course a central theme of that study. And Oswald Chambers in my devotional this morning made this point: "Never look for right in the other man, but never cease to be right yourself." In other words, we are to extend grace always, and to choose to live without expectation, so that we don't have to question the hearts of others or the goodness of God.

    Thanks for sharing,

    PS - I must clarify... we must always trust and expect God to be true to His faithful character, BUT we do not hold Him to our time table in doing so!

  11. I love reading Psalms. David is so honest with God, at times he was crying out, just like we do. "Why have you not come to my aide?" And other times He was remembering the faithfulness of God. One of my favorite verses is Psalms 42:11 "Why are in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."

    Thank you for sharing this. I pray that God continues to bless you, and bless others through your writing, and sharing your experiences.

  12. i like the part you made an illustration of ants. How God would do one thing more. He would step in and take all of sufferings upon Himself, becoming one of them and dying in their place so that they could live.

  13. Thanks Saleslady371, it has been my pleasure to lift up your family in my prayers this week.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Joanne.

    Your Post Script point is so true, Cheri, and that's a lesson we really need to learn. We are so desperate for things to happen when we want them to.

    Hi Melinda. I'm reading the Psalms at the moment too. Just finished reading Psalm 77, and wow, there is so much in there.

    Thanks Silver. What an amazing God we have, that He became one of us, and what He went through to save us. God bless :)

  14. There are many times when I get frustrated and sick and tired of being sick and tired, I feel like God is supposed to swing some magic wand and make it all better in a quick instant.

    I want more of the instant gratification verses the delay gratification. But deep down I know every thing is done in God's timing and stand on Prov. 3:5-6.

    Many times I catch myself thinking with that "modern mindset." And when God brings it to my attention, that's when I read and pray Romans 12:2, Phil. 4:8-9, and Col. 3:2.

    Thank you so much for this post. It really hit home with me. Blessings to you.

  15. Hi Toia,
    Thanks for sharing what you have been going through. I can relate to your comments about being sick of being sick and tired. Having struggled there greatly myself, I eventually learnt to rest in the knowledge that God is in control, even when it does not look or feel that way.

    I found great comfort from John 10:27-28, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

    God bless :)

  16. Our feelings, our perceptions, and our circumstances don't change who God is. God is good, and that is just fact. It's amazing how easily we can forget... thank God for His grace.

  17. I love it when you type a new post and in shows up in my inbox email. Never would I have imagined facing the kinds of depression when I first found you blog about a year (approx) ago and now here I am, deep in the hole you refer to so often. I am, in truth, wondering where God is. I've prayed so much and none of what I'm going through makes any sense; I am blessed beyond measure and didn't even face depression when my brother was killed, yet here I am a depressed mom and wife and why???? I face MAJOR insomnia that screws up my schedules, try to stay a loving mother but an exhausted one with forced smiles, and submerge myself into my Photography, yet still keeping it focus on Chist; adding scriptures to most all of the 'Heavens','Imaginative Dreams', 'Memorial/In Memory Of' and all other type of 'fantasy/fairy tale' photo's I work on, even though the lies of the enemy is now beginning to make me question when I type out these scriptures how (if) true they are....I never knew I'd need your blogsite Peter, until recently. I'm going to go back and reread how this all began with you to remind myself what happened. I wish I was on the other side as you are now, but funny how I'm on the other side as you back THEN. Thanks for sharing. Your words and vulnerability is real and keeps me reading hoping to climb the inside of this cave.

    Blessings to you and your whole family Peter!!


  18. The comparison of you and the ant farm vs God and His creation begins to help me .... until I go beyond what you and most people do in this line of thinking. I've had the same roadblock all my life.
    As you said, the ant farm for you was something you chose to be involved with, and when it dried up and all the ants died, you were sad for a while but got over it.
    God, on the other hand, absolutely knew that mankind would turn from His love and care and that the awful curse of sin would enter the human race. If He didn't know, then H is not all powerful and all-knowing.
    Because of that, all manner of utter horror has come upon us all. The only difference is degree and how slowly death will overtake us. But before death is heartbreak, sorrow, unavoidable stresses, failures, diseases, accidents, holocausts --- all things that God knew would be coming our way. Along, of course with beauty, a bit of fun, hopefully marriage and family, etc.
    So why did He create this mess? And if He is truly good (I know -it's some kind of higher good that we'll never understand, I get that, but can't handle it) ... but I happen to question just how good can this be as we casually observe, and indeed, have to live here on earth, never having asked to be born? I for one would rather be left uncreated than to struggle to understand God's love, knowing that any day I could die not having known or "getting" the answer, and then being condemned to Hell. Worse, knowing God could have prevented me from going to Hell by not creating me. It would save Him and all the angels the sorrow of peering over another sad human being who could not receive the fullness of God's love. So sad, but that human must be zapped - even though God knew in advance I wouldn't make it (speaking on behalf of the massive percentage of wordings out here).
    For those of us who are not mass murderers, but average everyday, caring people, hoping we don't get cancer or die some other hideous death... to consider that God knew of our genuine desire to know Him and His purpose, but that for whatever reason we couldn't grasp it ...then for God to foreordain us to slip away to an awful eternity without Him ... is creepy to think about.
    I am one who has accepted Christ as my savior but have never known the peace and joy others claim. Like everything else in life - incessantly searching for purpose, dealing with pain and sorrow, unanswered prayers, etc., I take the best option offered - Christianity, but still have extreme doubts about why God bothered to create me.
    I would rather "non-exist" than deal with the unknown crapshoot that life on earth entails.
    With Christ in my life for over 50 years, you'd think I'd have a clue to what He is really up to.
    But that is for the other side of the veil, when I guess it will all make sense.
    Til then, I'm still stuck on being mad at God, but have taken Him up on His offer to receive Christ.
    I'm not trying to diminish the price He paid for my sins and the sins of the world - but if I try and try to understand what it al means and still cannot ... is that OK? I know -you will say I am so close to the answer in Jesus. Well....? I believe in grace and that God has a purpose for me and all that - and yet after decades I have not found what that is.
    I am tormented by so many around me who have "gotten" the gospel and are waiting on tiptoes for me to grasp it too ... yet I disappoint them, God the universe, my wife ... it's a long list.
    And I would love to grasp it and spread the good news..... but I remain in my depression, paralyzed, as I have been most of my life. In fact, a case can be made that I've been in deeper depression as a Christian, knowing just how much of an abundant life I should have in God, and yet don't.
    Please pray for me.

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      Thank you for your heartfelt comment. A thousand thoughts have fled through my mind in reading it, but you've probably heard everything that I could answer, so I'll only share a few points.

      I think that one of the greatest stumbling blocks I have seen in many Christians lives, including my own during my first depressive episode, is that we see God as someone who can end our (or others') suffering and yes does not. This of course leads to anger and bitterness. But when we stop asking, "God, please end this suffering!" and instead ask, "Jesus, please lead me through this, and use it for good," our perspective changes completely, and the anger and bitterness is gone.

      The other two things I would say regarding what you have shared, is that I wonder if deep down, you doubt God's goodness, that He can be trusted absolutely. If you want to shoot me your email (peter7r9stone at I can send you eight enlightening devotionals by Selwyn Hughes that addresses this topic so well.

      The other point is this - Christ IS enough. Even to be born and have a life of suffering, but to know Jesus, is enough. To know Christ is worth any price at all. This is the purpose of life. "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him [Jesus] whom He has sent." John 6:29. This is God's purpose for you - to believe in and know Jesus intimately. Paul said the same thing: 1 Thessalonians 5:10 He [Jesus] died for us so that, whether we are awake [on earth] or asleep [in heaven], we may live together with him.

      I hope this can help, and I am praying for you.
      God bless

  19. I was raised in a Christian home but didn't really care for church. I wanted to be lord of my life & really felt that fame & fortune were my goals...I also play the piano. In my late teens, I began to see the futility of this world. I began to seriously consider giving my life to God! One night, I prayed...something I hadn't really done in years, or for all my life. I don't remember the prayer but I do remember getting on my knees & voicing a surrender to Jesus & to the will of God for my life. Nothing really happened...that night I had a dream that the Spirit of God came into me. The next day there was a sense that something was different in my life. Before, I had run from the things of God, now I was hungry to know him & to feel his presence. I longed for the peace of God that passes all understanding. This peace has been very elusive to me! I have seen God move through me, I have seen his wink many times in my life, but after 30 years, I am desperate to know HIM! I believe the good news, I believe in the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world...for my sins. I believe God is good, but with a crushing weight of emptiness & a docket of willful sin in my life, it is sometimes hard to believe in his unconditional love!

    I have read what you have written about depression & have determined to visit my doctor about this issue. I guess my pride has kept my from this path, also a desire that God would fill me in such a way as to vanquish all hurt & darkness from my life.

    I would encourage your readers to listen to a song "The Silence of God" by Andrew Peterson. I first heard this song while flying home from I listened over & over, the tears flooded my face & I knew there was an artist who knew what I felt & was transparent enough to record it.

    Thanks for your transparent site! It has helped me & many others!

    1. Hi Dale,
      Thanks for sharing these parts of your life. Glad to hear you are seeing a doctor, you may find that being unable to find/feel God's peace in your life is because of depression. After all the illnesses etc I have been through, nothing has made me feel distant from God like depression has. But please do not despair, for you can learn to respond to it and overcome it so that you can experience life to the full again. Accepting your circumstances, and acknowledging that Jesus is in control of them regardless of how they seem, instead of struggling, fighting or fearing them, is a crucial step. I've also found that a lack of hope makes it hard to stop sinning, but when our hope is restored in Christ, turning from sin is a much easier task.

      May I encourage you to read the booklet on this blog, for it lists the articles in order.
      Thanks for sharing the song too, I wrote virtually those same words in diary 'Why do You remain silent?
      I’ve waited and waited, yet I am met with silence.' Depression Booklet

      I believe that the perceived silence is in fact a result of depression distorting our view of all things, including God. Get stuck into the Word, and be encouraged that it is God speaking to you. May I encourage you to read John and the Psalms.

      God bless