“What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist?”
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
Lately life has been hard in Papua. I realize life has also been hard for most people around the globe with the shadow that COVID-19 has cast upon all of our societies and our freedoms to travel about as we would like. Our family was disappointed because C.J. could not visit us in May like we had planned. And then on May 12, in the midst of that disappointment, we experienced a sudden tragedy when our fellow pilot and co-worker Joyce Lin had a fatal aircraft accident here in Sentani. I thank many of you for your prayers and kind words of condolence during that time.
Joyce’s accident brought a new grief to our entire MAF team here. She was a person who was so dedicated to God. She was also smart, being an MIT graduate who moved into a successful stateside career in IT. She was dedicated, following God’s call to leave her career behind and attend seminary, and ultimately become an MAF pilot. She had quickly made many connections in the Indonesian community and was devoted to serving others. Why, Lord, would you call her home after only being here less than a year? It doesn’t make any sense to us. Are You still good- even in this?
Several weeks ago our family was watching the livestream of Shadow Mountain Community Church, and the songs were all about the goodness of God. Throughout my adult years as a Christian I have at times felt a blockage when it comes to truly believing God’s goodness. The blockage simply comes from my own perspective and vantage point. My personality tends to hyper-focus on the negative things of life, and I try to understand God’s goodness in light of my circumstances. And it just doesn’t always make sense to me. Two major painful points in my life are usually my stumbling block: I experienced childhood sexual abuse from a distant family member, and then later in my life we lost our five-year-old daughter Hannah to cancer. When I am in pain, I am tempted to fixate on one of those two painful events, and then I find that they loom so large before me that I can’t see God’s goodness through them.
Over the last ten years, as God continues to bring me more healing from the wounds in my life, He has also grown my faith in the area of his goodness. I am more often able to look through God-centered glasses and trust His goodness, even in hard circumstances. But Joyce’s accident was so painful that it plummeted me back into the struggle to see His perspective over my own. When the worship songs began on that Sunday morning and they sang the song “Goodness of God” by Bethel, I began to worship the Lord along with the singers. When we got to the line that says, “all my life You have been faithful; all my life You have been so, so good,” I felt a resistance rising in my soul. As can often happen when we experience a new grief, my old grief of abuse was somehow before me again. “God, how can You have been so, so good to me all my life when you allowed this to happen to me as a child?” I silently voiced my question to Him.
All of a sudden, God answered me. To be honest I wasn’t really expecting that, and I realized that I had never actually asked the Lord why He had allowed that to happen to me as a little girl. He simply said, “My child, without that injury to your soul, you would have been too prideful and strong-minded to truly know me well – like you do now. You would have persisted in your own ways rather than being open to mine. You would never know me as deeply as you do now without having been deeply broken.”
Tears welled up from within me at this sudden revelation. Really? God truly knew what I needed to know Him well? And He loved me enough to allow me to be wounded because He knew that without that I would never know Him like I have come to know Him through the pain? Is knowing Him and trusting Him really more valuable than my comfort? These questions flooded into my mind. And one final question: Was it worth it? If I had the choice, would I choose to live a life without that deep wounding? A life where I would know God on a surface level, skimming the top of the waters of His love and grace? Or would I choose the wounding, knowing it had been a catalyst to plummet me into the deep depths of those waters?
Wow. From where I sit now, having experienced God’s voice, touch and healing over the past twenty years of my life, I have to say that knowing God as my Father, my Counselor, my Healer, and the Lover of my soul, is worth all the pain that it took for me to know Him that way. And, His revelation of why He allowed that deep wounding has opened my eyes a little wider to His goodness. Without it I would probably be quite satisfied to live life on my own terms, thinking I knew Him but not knowing Him very well.
Truly all my life, He has been faithful. All my life He has been so, so good. I will sing of the goodness of God.
“The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.”