If you're anything like me, you associate 'good' with anything that has to do with pleasure, choice, safety and comfort. On the other hand, you associate 'bad' with anything pertaining to pain, suffering, discomfort or lack of choice.
Jesus exclaims in Mark chapter 10, verse 18 "...no one is good except God alone." When I choose to define 'good' and 'bad' in my own life, it only leads to control and fear. Using my previous definition of good, I must do my best to control my life in order to avoid pain, discomfort and suffering at all costs in order to enjoy myself and live a 'good' life.
I must fill my life with things that make me happy and bring me pleasure and comfort. At the same time, fearing that if I ever encounter anything 'bad,' my life will be miserable and unsatisfying. As soon as I find myself in a 'bad' situation, the best thing to do is get out as quickly as possible so I can be happy once again.
As I've realised first hand, the problems with living this way are endless. What if God wanted to meet me in the suffering and reveal His faithfulness and comfort in the midst of pain, but I chose to avoid the situation out of fear? God alone is good, and if we want to encounter Him, we must be willing to let go of control in order for Him to choose what is 'good' or 'bad' in our lives.
This is what it means to trust God. When I choose to allow Jesus to become Lord of my life, no longer do I get to decide what career, living situation or future is best. My life and will is now operating under the Lordship of Christ and when our wills are opposing, I must submit and allow Him to choose what is good or best.
Romans chapter 8, verse 28 says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." We repeat this verse all the time, yet we are confronted consistently by situations that cause us to question its validity.
Even though we do our best to avoid the 'bad,' at some point in our life, we will all be confronted with pain and suffering, despite our best efforts, if you're human, it's unavoidable.
When I was 10 years old, I lost my youngest brother and grandmother in a sudden house fire. I grew up in a Christian home and believed in God, yet the question of God's goodness was staring me down, demanding a response; breathing lies down my back, waiting to see if I would change my beliefs. Over the course of the years to come, I chose to believe in God's goodness despite the pain and suffering. I saw God in the midst of my trials.
I saw the God of comfort crying with my family as we mourned over the loss of my brother. I saw the God of faithfulness surrounding us with family and friends. I saw the God of provision supplying a place to live, an endless supply of toothbrushes and meals. I saw the Father heart of God hold me when I needed to cry.
Although I would never wish pain and suffering on anyone, I wouldn't trade my experience for the world. In the midst of the suffering, I saw a side of God that few get the chance to experience, unless you've been through the valley yourself.
The more I choose to embrace suffering and pain, the more clearly I see and experience God's goodness. So why would I waste my energy and efforts holding onto control and avoiding it so much?
God alone is good. So let's dare to trust Him, let go of control and allow Him to define what is good.
Laurinda is a missionary at Youth with a Mission in Brisbane where she leads a discipleship program for young adults. On an off day you can find her hiking up a mountain or swinging in a hammock.
Laurinda Rapp's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/laurinda-rapp.html