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The Hardest Question

This one’s been echoing for a while. I haven’t been able to shake it. Wish I could. It makes me uncomfortable. It turns things upside down yet makes things right-side-up. In a way that reveals truth. And truth, when it comes to we as humans, isn’t pretty–this much I know.

The question was posed at my church small group several months ago: What if God never did one more good thing for you?

And the air was knocked out of me. My group-leader’s warm inviting living room went suddenly cold, the cushiony couch went hard, the light-colored walls went dark, and my life was in perspective.

He wouldn’t do that, right? Stop doing good things for me, stop blessing me, stop giving me opportunities, stop putting amazing people in my path, stop putting me in the right place at the exact right moment to learn the exact right thing because He’s God, and God does good, right? He does good…for me…surely He wouldn’t stop…

Hmm

And if He did, would I still declare His name?

Would I sing of His love?

Would I say “my God is good”? Would I still believe He was good?

I hate this question. I hate that it was asked me. I hate that I can no longer be ignorant to its answer but instead must realize how oh so conditional my love is. I love Him because of what He does for me, not because He is.

And if He himself is not enough, if what He did so long ago is not enough, whatever possibly will be?

25 COMMENT

  1. Cheryl G | 4th Nov 10

    Andrea~ Indeed, a tough question to ask and even tougher to answer. Thank you, though, for reminding me what it means to surrender to the will of a sovereign God. Praise him; truthful to his nature, God will not forget or forsake us….ever! His will may not always look like the ‘good things’ we want him to do in our lives, but it will always be good…because God alone is good… all the time! Love you and proud of who you are in Christ! p.s. Claire is totally pumped w/excitement over her visit this weekend.

  2. Margaret @ Single and Sane | 4th Nov 10

    The question knocks the air out of me, too. It’s totally convicting. Thanks for sharing your feelings so honestly.

  3. Angela | 4th Nov 10

    Hi Andrea,

    It’s a tough question indeed. As I’ve struggled with MS and depression over the last years that’s been one of the questions I’ve had to wrestle with. To praise the Lord in the midst of what was, to me, not understandable and seemed unpraiseworthy. I can’t say I’ve achieved that but I’m learning. When God is truely God then I’m ok. Thanks for asking the probing question that makes me want to dig deeper and gain a surer foundation for the darkness whenever it might descend.

    • andrealucado | 4th Nov 10

      Wow, Angela, inspiring comment–thanks!

  4. ema | 4th Nov 10

    ahhhhhhh.
    thats a tough one…but i learnt something a while back.. its that God will remain God regardless of whatever happens or comes our way!

  5. Heather | 4th Nov 10

    Andrea, this question has got me thinking, too. Thanks so much for sharing…even though you’re right…it is such a difficult question to hear.

  6. Karen Scott | 4th Nov 10

    Hi Andrea,
    Yes, that is a very hard question. When I think about God, I think of Him as an ever-caring, ever-forgiving, and ever giving Father. To be quite honest, I would feel forsaken. But just as Jesus and one of God’s servants Job did, I would dig deep within my soul and come to the realization that material possessions, health, healing, prosperity, and even the earth itself will pass away, but God’s love and the Hope of eternal life with Him would be more than enough to sustain me.

    Job 1:22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

    Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

    Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

    Deuteronomy 30:20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them

    Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

    Revelation 1: 7Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

    Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

  7. Damian | 4th Nov 10

    I have gone through really tough times over the past few years. God has been constant in both my trials and my joys. When He blesses, it’s miraculous: I’ve lost count of the number of times He has provided exactly what I need. When my prayers seem unanswered, I know He has His reasons.

    If God never did one more good thing for me, I would still worship Him for loving me enough to send His Son to die in my place. Don’t feel ashamed of loving God for what He does for you now , though. It’s a step on the path to knowing and loving Him for who He is. If what He does prompts you to ask what you can do for Him, then you already love Him!

    God will never love you any less for not loving Him more right now.

  8. Fiona | 4th Nov 10

    Thank you, Andrea, for sharing the sometimes necessary kick in the stomach that makes us truly say, “Thank you, Jesus. It IS finished.”

  9. ashleynashville3 | 4th Nov 10

    i wish i could say i would be thankful to receive what i already had and move forward, but i can’t really say that’s true.

    i also can’t wrap my mind around God not doing something great in my life bc He created my life and that in itself is amazing.

    ok i am rambling bc i dont know how to answer this.

    goodbye.

  10. Denalyn lucado | 4th Nov 10

    Profound, sweetie. That IS a hard question. Thank you for being honest enough to ask it and wonder. I join you in that. I love you

  11. Lindsey Nobles | 4th Nov 10

    I can’t imagine what that would look like. Since it ALL is a gift from him…each breath, each sunrise, each sunset…

    Great question Andrea! I’ll be thinking on this.

  12. Joshua Weitzman | 4th Nov 10

    In the intended context of the questions, as previously mentioned, if I were in a Job situation I would still serve God. Do I serve Him for what I get? No, it’s because I love Him. It’s because of who He is.

    However, the question as presented is a logical fallacy.

    It is the goodness of God, His strength, His mercy and grace, His faithfulness, His comfort and love that are the essence of who He is. Just as Job, without His strength I would turn from Him (Phil. 4:13). And without His mercy and grace I would not exist to serve Him (Eph. 2:4-5). If He was not faithful, He would only be like me, not the God He is that I choose to serve (2 Tim. 2:13). Apart from His comfort and love, good things He gives, I would know no peace during the hard times and could never maintain relationship through them (2 Cor 1:3-4).

    It’s important to know who God is, so we know what He will and will not do as we consider our relationship with Him.

  13. Jen | 4th Nov 10

    Profoundly amazing that He is as unconditional as we are conditional! Thank you for an amazing insight!

  14. Deb | 5th Nov 10

    Hey Andrea, thanks for asking this question so openly. It is indeed a difficult one, my sweet, no matter what our age.

    If I may posit a few thoughts, observations…

    Those of us Americans who were raised through the lens of the Bible Belt Bubble are perhaps most shocked by this ‘What if God never did one more good thing for you?’-question. Our American church culture from the Bible Belt teaches us many precepts that directly oppose the teachings of Jesus on how to attain treasure in heaven– Luke 6.20-36 – He gives us the beatitudes but we give Him attitudes. Our faith vision has somehow morphed into equating grace freely given by conjuring up our sovereign Father into a ‘Can-Do God’ through prayer, upon our own time-driven demands. His grace entitles us to good things and if he fails to deliver then, hey, we have the right to become sceptical of Him, eh? Either that or, if we have been taught throughout our lives to believe in Him then we cave in to fears of doubt when the good is not evident or happening (Ahhh, glorious VBS-hype!). Because somewhere in all those years of instruction we got it mixed up that it’s not nice to question our faith in God on a scale from 1 to 10. We can doubt and pout with the best of them, though, and He WILL always love us!

    Perhaps it will help if we turn this question around to ‘What if I never did one more good thing for God?’

    I have been reading ‘Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Christian Smith, Melinda Lundquist Denton), because the four churches in our rural benefice have NO youth or children coming, which means no parents/adults in the age-groups of 30-to-40 somethings are attending, either. This is the real world, where many question their foundations for faith or spiritual beliefs but do not know how to find either. (We are trying to learn what we can and change to reverse this trend that began here in the ’60’s.) I know this book is about the state of faith of the American teen, but it resonates here in the UK. It resonates with how I saw things in the US with adults of faith. It resonates with my view of the state of faith when we moved back to the Bible Belt after living outside of America, when my teen-self did not correspond or fit in with the teens/youth my uncle was preaching to in the US. And it resonates with how I saw religious ed curriculum for children being shaped in the 1980’s-’90’s during my seminary studies.

    Below are a few nuggets to chew on (read the book when you can, I hope I have not taken things out of context too much with your own thinking). It seems that in many ways our churches fell into some of the patterns of thinking in Moralistic Therapeutic Deism long before God created your loveliness. 🙂

    Love ya…

    ‘1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
    2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the the Bible and by most world religions.
    3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
    4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
    5. Good people go to heaven when they die.’

    AND…
    ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is about belief in a particular kind of God: one who exists, created the world, and defines our general moral order, but not one who is particularly personally involved in one’s affairs–especially affairs in which one would prefer not to have God involved. Most of the time, the God of this faith keeps a safe distance…This God is not demanding. He actually can’t be, because his job is to solve our problems and make people feel good. In short, God is something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist: he is always on call, takes care of any problems that arise, and professionally helps his people to feel better about themselves, and does not become too personally involved in the process.’
    ( ‘Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Christian Smith, Melinda Lundquist Denton)

    • andrealucado | 15th Nov 10

      Deb, great insights! The church culture we were often surrounded by in the US would definitely not like this question. I’m grateful that I see things turning, people rising up and seeking genuine confession and teaching in churches. That’s where freedom actually lies after all.

      Your community on the other side of the pond is so fortunate to have you there championing the Good Fight–keep it up!

  15. Angie | 5th Nov 10

    I love where your head is, even if you hate the question. I’ve long thought, at least from my understanding of Scripture, that if God gave me nothing beyond salvation, He’d still be living up to His promises to me. Truly, that’s more than I could ask for. Everything else is just a bonus, grace upon grace.

    But now I’m married with 3 precious sons, and if He allowed me to go through what Job did, losing his children, wealth and health, would I still FEEL like salvation was enough? More than enough?

    Tough question. But good for the soul. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Stuart Clark | 6th Nov 10

    Thanks for the wake up. Perspective is everything.

  17. Leonard | 8th Nov 10

    I don’t like this question! In this perverse and croooked generation we need faith encouraging statements.The truth behind faith is that it is for the NOW! Now faith is…Heb 11:1..However, I understand that faith is enriched when we grasp Jesus’ finished work on the cross.We cannot have one mindset without the other-Thank God for what He’s done but we also look forward to all the good things He has in store for us without apology and justification.

    God is refreshed and filled when He does good things for us(John 4) as we see in the encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman.It makes Him who He is-Our Provider and Father. If God didn’t do any other good thing for me..can He truly lay hold of these titles over my life?

    The question seems to shockingly attack God’s providence to us in the here and now in an attempt to make us more thankful for who He is. My submission is that we don’t need these kinds of questions to prove a point, because the Presence of the Holy-Spirit in an atmosphere of true Worship is doing a perfectly good job.

    Regards,

    Leonard

    • andrealucado | 15th Nov 10

      Leonard,

      Thanks so much for your thoughts. I’m wondering if I should replace the word “good” with the word “blessing.” God’s goodness is indeed undeniable. He is the essence of good. It’s those THINGS, those blessings, I find myself so dependent on, rather than just the goodness of God Himself.

      Thanks for stirring the pot.

  18. Rick | 8th Nov 10

    There are so many ways to respond to this question it makes one’s head spin!

    The height, breadth and depth of this question is extaordinarily significant and profoundly insignificant. The question deeply touches every aspect of who we are as humans and everything that defines God’s character neither of which I fully understand. The question gives a wide view of all that makes us human and all that makes God, God. Nothing is left untouched! Given all this, where does one begin in an honest and a truly God-toward way, to answer this question? At one point do we HAVE to leave behind self-centric considerations.

    I have no clue but my days are deeply filled with God’s goodness and blessings and deep love and deep grace. He sustains me in all that is my life, he is my rock, he is my salvation. Holiness is the chosen path of my life because of his goodness. I know that in my holiness I will always be attacked by satan because I know deeply satan hates holiness he hates anything that draws me closer to my Lord. Satan hates the fact I worship with other Christians, he always tries to disrupt this through his lies. I pray deeply God never withdraws his goodness from my life.

  19. Mark Barone | 9th Nov 10

    This is the same question Satan presented to God concerning Job. “The only reason why Job worships you is that you give him stuff. Take it all way and he will curse you to your face,” was Satan’s challenge to God. God proved to Satan and the other heavenly host that Job understood a basic truth. God was worthily of praise and honor because of who He was (Creator) and not just because he gave Job stuff. If a man made out of dust could get this truth, you would think that Satan and his angles would have gotten it as well. Maybe, some of them did and switched sides. In the end, God took care of Job.

  20. Hilary Duncan | 13th Nov 10

    God is good – he gave me life. He also blessed me with the ability to withstand difficult times. I don’t think that it is about what God will DO for me next, but what I will do in his name.

  21. God Is Self-centered. Does that Make You Uncomfortable? | English Lessons | 31st Oct 11

    […] glory and sovereignty. I shared a bit of this in the post that started this whole series here. And surprise! This topic has themed its way into my […]

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  23. Ugoh ifeanyi | 8th Nov 13

    Really a tough and though questing the only answer is to surrender to Him to lead u

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