When Life Makes You Wonder if God is Good…

Job felt it.
Habakkuk had fleeting moments when the thought crossed his mind.
Jeremiah wondered as well.

They all had crises when they asked the question…

Is God cruel?

I know in my head that God is good, a God of love, of mercy,and of grace.  He is far better to me than I deserve. I was born in sin and I embraced my nature willingly.  My heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. On the outside, I have been a “good boy.” But I know the darkness of my heart – the self-centeredness and pride, the anger and vindictiveness, the lust and greed and…well, you get the picture.

I know that if I got what I deserved from God I would be in hell right now.

I know that I was saved by the grace of God and not by any merit on my part.

I know all that.  I preach it.  I believe it. But sometimes I do not feel it. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder, Lord, what are you doing to me.  And why?

Let me tell you why I am feeling this way.

We have been facing a kind of major crisis in the Miller family recently.  I made some decisions a couple of years ago that I thought made sense at the time.  I wasn’t trying to be rebellious or willfull; in fact, I believed I was being smart.  But looking back on it now, I can see that I ignored some warning signs I probably shouldn’t have ignored, and relied on some advice that turned out not to be sound.

I made a decision that has put us into a financial crisis right now.

I have admitted that I made unwise decisions – to God, to myself, to my wife, to others with whom I discussed this.  I wish I could go back and undo what I did, but that door is closed.

A month or so ago, after I shared this problem with some friends, out of the blue two of them came to me and said, “This is not a big problem, we can help you.”  I was floored and grateful – I don’t cry that often, but I was in tears as I told my wife that God had opened a door and the problem was going to be solved.

Three days later, the men came to my house and withdrew their offer of help.  It absolutely cratered me – that is about as low as I have ever been.  Having the clouds part for a couple of days made the darkness seem even darker.

Just as I was forcing myself out of my fetal position of depression, another solution presented itself and things looked up.  Again, I dared to believe that there was an end to this nightmare that has cost me more hours of sleep than I can count.

Today, I had a phone call that let me know that this solution is likely going to turn out to be another mirage.  My spirit is partly cloudy with a chance of storms!

And in the mind of my flesh, I am wondering why things happened as they did.  Why did two solutions present themselves as if they were God’s provision, only to be pulled back at the last moment and leave me dangling?

Why, God?

And I know that I will probably never understand. God seldom answers the question why to his children. He wants us to trust him without understanding.  That is exactly what I am having to do right now.

I have to hold on, to trust that God has a plan, a way out of this, or through it, or under it, or whatever.

I guess there are several things I have to remember as I go through this time when I am baffled by God’s work. These are all things I know in myA head, but have to remind my soul at times like these.

1) Serving God is about serving God not getting God’s goodies.

As much as I hate prosperity theology, I find I have a little bit of it in me at times.  I think because I’m a “man of God” that he should work everything out for me. I serve him because of who he is and not what he gives me.  If I forget that, maybe he needs to remind me!

After he has given me eternity, will I question his goodness because of these temporal issues?

2) God is not obligated to make everything work out in my life.

When I consider the issues I am going through with the problems Paul faced, outlined in 2 Corinthians 11, I realize that my issues are pretty minor.  Paul saw hardship as a normal part of his life, while I tend to see it as an unfair invasion.  I must remember that God is not obligated to smooth out all the troubled waters, just to guide me through them.

3)  God purposes are not always my purposes. 

I think of Peter, who out of loyalty to Jesus, pulled out a sword to protect him in Gethsemane.  Think about it.  Peter was trying to stop the crucifixion which was the only hope for his eternal soul.  In his wisdom, preventing Jesus’ death was crucial.  In God’s wisdom, Jesus’ death was God’s will.

I don’t understand what God is doing, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t doing something good.

4)  My job is not to understand, but to trust and obey. 

Job was never told the reasons for God’s dealings with him.  He was simply told to trust in the goodness and sovereign power of God even in his confusion. My job is to trust a God I often don’t understand and to serve him whatever comes my way.

Like Job 13:15 says, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”

Sometimes, we just have to hold on in the night to what we know in spite of what we feel. So, I’m going to hold on to the goodness of God when my mind is confused, my heart feels betrayed and my flesh is weary.

And one of these days I will be able to testify here – either of God’s provision or his sustaining grace.


  1. William Thornton says

    I hate to hear of your difficulty Dave but appreciate your healthy perspective on them.

    God bless you.

    • cb scott says

      I add my agreement to William’s comment. I’ll pray for the Miller family. You can take my word for that.

      • says

        I join CB in committing to pray for you, your family and your situation. God does promise us that He will make a way when we take Him by the hand and trust Him no matter what; I believe that with all my heart. I believe you are correct in that God does not provide solutions as we think he ought to… but I would encourage you to find comfort in those who have come forward offering to help; even though they for whatever reason have not done so TO DATE, seems to me God is certainly working in the background and we all know, is aware of your situation and His solution.

        Continue to faith God; pray as if that is the only solution. God grace is always sufficient.


  2. John Wallace says

    Been there…am there, Dave.

    God is teaching me: (1) My opportunities to participate in God’s mission are not fewer because of the struggles I’m facing, they’re greater. (2) The person I’m becoming is more crucial to God’s mission than the person I would have become were it not for the struggles I’m facing. (3) The variety of people I’m being equipped to help is greater, not less.

    The Evangelical Church in North America has undergone a virtual complete gentrification in our lifetime. We are rabid materialists; we trust in money. We value people with assets, not those with liabilities. We are quick to characterize our own prosperity as evidence of God’s blessing while judging those in financial hardship as victims of their own irresponsible choices. We do this because it allows us to enjoy our wealth without being nagged by a sense of responsibility for those in need.

    None of us deserves mercy, you included. But the Church needs your voice now more than ever. We need you because of the person you are becoming because of the crisis you are facing. For this reason, I’m praying that those with means will be moved to help you, not because you deserve it, but because you’re a good investment for Christ’s Kingdom.

    Personally Dave, your example of straight talk, honesty, and lack of guile and duplicity is one of the reasons I haven’t given up on the SBC, even though I despise the Yankees and will be a Brooklyn Bum for life. Go Blue!

    • Greg Harvey says

      I love the analogy. In God’s accounting system, his strength–our asset–is perfected in our weakness–our liability. As with any good balance sheet: the assets and the liabilities match perfectly with not a single lost coin, sheep, or son.

  3. Dave Miller says

    Just read an interesting, and slightly convicting verse. Numbers 21:4 says that while God’s people were going through their wilderness wanderings (their own fault, actually) they became impatient with God and started murmuring. God sent the snakes among them.

    There are so many parallels.

    • says

      Mentioned that passage Sunday morning… as I saw that passage, it was not their grumbling that brought God’s judgment but their cry, “we loathe this worthless bread.” This ought to serve as a strong word of warning to the church today as Jesus is the Bread of Life… and how we see Him is of extreme importance to our heavenly Father!

      I know you are not in danger there!


  4. says

    God grant you grace for this trying hour is my prayer. And that for the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord. How many times in my life have I wound up smack dab in the middle of a full blown crisis wherein God look like an ogre. Yes, we all have times like that, and we can find them writ large in the Bible. Jacob, Joseph, and Job are but a few who come to mind of the numerous examples of saints in a pickle in Holy Scripture. Listen to Jeremiah (20:7), “O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art strong that I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.” And, again, (Jer.15:18, “Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuses to be healed? Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?” Here in Jeremiah we have parallels to our own feelings of defeat, disappointment, desolation, and desertion.If the foregoing are not enough, take a look at Lamentations 3:1-20, a miserable dirge, if ever. Note in all of this the Prophet’s look of askance at the Lord, going to the very heart of the issue. It just simply does not seem fair from our viewpoint. why it even seems that God is willing to cast Himself in a very bad life. Speaking as I have indicated from the perspective of having been in the middle of such crises numerous times and even now, I can only point to the fact that sooner or later a way was opened to go forward in the past events and so it will be, I trust, in the present situation and in future ones. Often have I asked why, Why, WHY? And as the poet says, “the dumb stars glittered no reply.” But years down the road, a derivative of that anguish and misery in some past crisis does appear for the benefit of a present need. Try these on for size: Long rows of cotton, corn, and soybeans to hoe, pick, or gather, beginning around the age of five, from sunup to sunset, continuing for years. Fast forward thirty and forty and fifty years later. Trials requiring long endurance, hanging in there, sticking to it. From such trials, from learning what is most required, continuing even when you don’t know why and are pained at the seeming indications of the situation (God an Ogre! No, it isn’t true, but the seeming is hard to distinguish from the real). Then, one day, you come to the place of fruition, of realization, of awareness of God’s more comprehensive purpose in fulfillment. What a glory! In the process of that reality coming to pass, you will be driven to your knees, to pray, to trust, to cling like Jacob, when He has touched the hollow of your strength and thrown it all out of joint.

    A lot of people do not think to day of those who lived in the past. They do not think of the fact that they might well be living good lives compared to the folks of long ago, living good lives as a result of the prayers of our ancestors and predecessors. Consider that I have been praying for the conversion of the whole earth in one generation and every last soul in that generation on earth beginning, hopefully, even today, and continuing for a 1000 generations (that’s for 20,000 years at least), pleading the promises listed in Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt which inspired Carey, Fuller, Judson, and Rice to pray for the spread of the Gospel and then to launch the Great Century of Missions. But what did folks pray in the years and the centuries gone by? In the Dark Ages? In the prisons of the Inquisitions? In the concentration camps of the Nazis and the Communists? In the anguish of being murdered by fanatics determined to shut down all religions but their own, not willing for truth to make its own way by persuasion? God grant you help in your anguish as well as awareness that the sufferings are also not yours or ours along; they are the filling up of the sufferings of Christ for the glory that even now is but even more shall be.

  5. Christiane says

    I have a friend whose first son died long ago at the age of eleven of organ complications from the disease lupus. I had known that boy since his mother carried him in her arms as an infant. I have never seen so much hope as when my friend took that child for his tests to Duke University and then, during the waiting period for the results, was sustained by that hope.

    But gradually, the tests proved to be disappointing, and still my friend did not give up. Still, she would pray, in the way of her faith, and something more: she would spread the table on Friday evening with a white cloth and light the candles and say the ancient prayers . . .

    even up to the time of the child’s death, still my friend spread the table, and lit the candles, and prayed the ancient prayers . . .

    she still does this

  6. John Fariss says

    Hang in there, Dave. I too have been facing some financial crisises. Mine began a bit over two years ago, mine too began–partly–when we made some decisions that made sense at the time (and partly because of events outside our control, i.e., illness that cost my wife her job) and that we felt no adverse leadings from God on, but nonetheless resulted in a crisis. Actually, the worst seems to have passed for us, although Estimated Federal Income Tax payments this quarter have thrown us temporarily tight. As we are getting through it, so I am sure will you. You have a good attitude about it, and I agree with your four conclusions. One thing I know is that it has given me a greater appreciation for and understanding of people having financial problems. I recognize that in the past, I was pretty smug about it.

    John Fariss

  7. says

    “In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”

    I’ll be praying for you and your family, Dave.

    “This too shall pass.”

  8. Christiane says

    a few times in my life, we went into money troubles, once of our own making, another time, a job loss (but WHAT a job, big bucks) right when my daughter started college . . .

    it’s no fun

    but then, I know how to go into conservative mode: dried peas and beans, whole grain dishes, eggs, garden produce, thrift shop and consignment stores, libraries instead of book stores, cancel all unnecessary luxury expenditures if possible, garage sales, making a large piece of meat last for four meals (is possible), cooking cheaper cuts of meat in the French Canadian way (delicious), cutting back on use of electric lights and hot water . . . on and on

    it’s a little bit like being forced into ‘lenten’ ways and that in itself, is something that brings one to be repentant for being wasteful, and thankful for all good things. . . . it can be a time of spiritual growth if hope is maintained and sharing continues with those in worse situations than your own

    been there, not fun, but brings one to one’s knees with a sense of being very, very thankful for all good things that were not noticed when there was so much abundance before

  9. Christiane says

    DAVID, and to all who are in present trouble, here is something I know to share about what life is like for those in WORSE troubles (may the Good Lord keep us from them):

    A nutritious ‘meal’ for those who live ‘outside the gates’:
    Try this healthy recipe and be lovingly humbled at how much we have all taken for granted from the Hand of Our Lord:

    (fish heads and rice) . . . . a meal that is classic and time-honored among the bums and transients who live in need ‘invisibly’ among us.
    This meal is as nutritious as it is humbling:

    Here is the actual recipe as it was originally shared by those with few resources. Enjoy. :

    “To make this meal, you will need an iron pot to cook a broth (fish stock) made of fish-heads,
    so you must first go to the fishmonger and beg for fish-heads.
    He will feel compassion for you and will throw in a few pieces of fish with the heads.
    Place the fish heads in a netting to boil up a fish stock. If you have no netting, you can put them into a sock and tie it before boiling.
    ( This works well, but remember to wash the sock out thoroughly before wearing it again, or cats will follow you around. )

    After the stock is prepared, DISCARD THE FISH HEADS (this is important);
    and then add the following ingredients to the boiling stock:
    1. a handful of rice (costs very little)
    2. add fresh, hand-picked young dandelion greens (always available to those who must migrate to the warmer climates, even in winter)
    3. finally, add the pieces of fish that were given gratis by the compassionate fish-monger (pray for him as you do this)
    Boil this up patiently in the iron pot and do not set yourself on fire.

    When ready, give thanks to the Good Lord for all good things and for this meal, and share your food with all around you who are hungry.
    Do not waste any of the precious food.
    Clean up properly before departing.”

    Sometimes it’s good to return to the simple.
    It makes us better people, and more grateful for what we have.
    We have so much, we don’t realize how blessed we are anymore.

    As for the sharing and the ‘thanksgiving’, it pleases God for us to remember the important things of life, and from Whom they came.

    . . . . an ancient Hebrew blessing:
    ‘Blessed Be God Who Brings Forth Bread From The Earth.’
    and may we all say ‘AMEN’

  10. says

    Dave, when we came to our current church, we believed that God was in it. We still believe so. Believing that He led us, we purchased a home and put ours up for sale. Believing that He led us, we waited and waited and waited on the sale of that home in MO. It was 18.5 months later when it sold. This while we still had a son getting his bachelors and a daughter getting her masters. We also had a home in their college town that they were sharing. I said all that to say that there were times when humanly I would ask, “God, what’s going on?” His reply was to “wait and trust Him.” He always “supplied our needs.” One year while filing our taxes, my wife and I looked at the figures and said, “This can’t be. We can’t be doing what it shows on paper.” God was supplying beyond what we would think or ask. Keep trusting Him. He is leading you and will not forsake you. God bless you.

  11. Greg Harvey says

    I’ve been saving this for you, Dave. 😉

    Salt Mill

    In order to put
    Salt on my food
    I grind it in a mill.

    I wonder how
    God gets us ready
    To flavor the world?


  12. Bruce H. says

    Eternity is the scale we have to use for the Christian life. When the greatest Christian says, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:10. We need to understand what our life is all about because it is all about Christ and who He is. Personally, I suffer and do not like it right now, but it is His creation and restoration. Then I get to enjoy the benefits of His design for all eternity. Amen.

  13. says

    I’ve had way more incidences of major upsets where I thought nothing worse could happen – but sometimes it did ; but, in each and every case out of the blue would come a solution . One was a 10-12,000 Washington Post ” street sales ” route which served not only street machines but 7-11s . I had two “jumpers” from a bad side of town who could keep all of us in sandwiches etc. by stuffing them into the return papers that the store didn’t sell and got credit for. I stopped that and offered to buy All the eats – at least I paid and I started to park head-in so I could watch out the windshield at them dancing around inside. Parent’s divorcing which sent me to Germany on the S.S. United States which was the best move fore me I ever had thanks to an Uncle , a West Point Grad and WW2 Fighter Pilot who came down hard on me. Try six months restriction to the premises because of grades . I stayed there over 3 years . Harley- Davidson was a wake-up about how the other side lived . We fixed people’s motorcycles who worked with them for nothing – mostly all black. I followed a guy buying some parts out the front door who was a Captain on an airline – had ten kids – 8 old cars 2 of which ran simultaneously – and 2 sets of tags all of which his kids crashed while he was on a trip. I asked him how you get to do that job as I was already flying & fixing Harley Golf cars and messing with parachutes which consisted of mainly union steel & iron workers who were one crazy bunch of guys – who also rode Harleys. He said to get All the licenses and call him back . That took about 3 years and lots of money and I lived in a rescue squad which was rent free in exchange for running calls late at night who showed up one day wearing a co-pilots suit and worked for the same airline . Now I have two on ” my side” . Lots of different people with lots of backgrounds all of whom were friendly and willing to help out. This is only a partial list which concludes with my being and having been sick for many years . That slowed me down and saved me a lot of gasoline . A flood completely remodeled my house – bran new and paid off of the small size . The adjuster from Jersey was a good guy. Too many items that went from do- do house to castle . Punch line – Until I stopped by here at SBC Voices and people I didn’t know tried to insult me and verbally beat me up and I didn’t know the reason . I responded at at all to begin with and then let her fly within bounds . What would God think about almost all of you of belittling a sick old man making snide remarks . All I was doing was trying to find out why SBC was trashing itself – and I found out . Could this be the reason God might have looked the other way ? I mention it because you all don’t but aren’t reticent about “crying ” to each other . Without other people’s help I would be nowhere – and the same goes for you . If I didn’t mean this I wouldn’t have written it and I did it for your benefit – not mine . I’m smart enough to know other problems exist in your lives , but , so do the same problems exist in others lives . Reasonable people can disagree . Not the stuff you did here. I hold no grudges .

    • says

      Oh, I forgot , the Airline Company I worked for over 30 years went bankrupt . No more healthcare and the retirement was not as it would have been . So into the stock market with the dough which took a hit – a couple of big hits and the Courts made them pay for healthcare until I was old enough for medicare . Two things happened – my stock guy said he had a “deal” that would payoff my original investment after my death. Medicare thru Social Security passed some Prescription plans – not everybody has Guidestone . So, outhouse to castle once again. Different income bracket etc. I’m not smart enough to plan this stuff .

      • says

        Feel for you Mr. Wolford…as I do for David. At present I am having to care for my wife (scoliosis and diabetes). She has been to church with me twice in about 8 weeks. I have to lead her by the hand, due to her weakness and pain. You can guess at the housework, etc., that I am having to do now. Add on 15 years without a church or a regular job and the fact that I was raised to work and work hard. Add tragedies of a broken home in childhood, farm work, sun up to sun set, pastoring a church which had fired the pastor before me (you can guess why), add a second broken home, add being fired from a church where the ringleaders admitted that they could find nothing wrong. Grief, dear sir, seems to be a part of this life down here on this earth, one of the reasons some people find relief in the Sovereignty of God. When I wrote a paper on the tragedy of the loss of four members of my family in 1972 due to murder and suicide, the students in the class reacted very negatively. Our professor, Dr. Ed. Pruden, who had been Harry Truman’s pastor, spoke up and said, “I didn’t know but what I agree with Mr. Willingham. Years ago, I had a son at Campbell college. He lived in off campus housing. One night the space heater leaked gas, and he was killed. If I did not believe God was in control to make such a thing turn out for good, I don’t know what I would do.” (All I had said was that, while I did not believe God caused the sin of murder and suicide in that God cannot sin, I did believe He was in control of it to make it turn our for good…an idea that was expressed in the statement which I had read at the funeral of my four family members (mother, step-father, and two half-sisters). Sooner or later, it seems, we all come to those times of severe grief and distress, of crisis and trauma, bring emotional impacts that will influence us for the rest of our lives….just as those deaths are still very much with me in what will be this Fall, the 40th anniversary of that sad event. Guidestone does not supply what one has to draw out in order to survive until social security kicks in. Ministry is a hardship in many cases, and only fools look on it as an easy and cushy job. I feel real fear, when I remember that God has said that those in the position of leadership will bear heavier judgments, that every idle word will require an answer. The anguish that occurs in the life of ministers is not to be believed. Just consider going from the joy and happiness of weddings and births to the miseries of the passing of loved ones, including especially those that are most tragic and devestating. David, I pray God grants you special grace for these hours and days. If I can do anything, let me know. I have been a Licensed Professional Counselor in North Carolina, one of the first thousand. God grant you the sense of His presence. I felt like some one was standing at my shoulder that week of Oct.30-Nov.5, 1972, literally. God is there, and sometimes you can sense His presence. May He grant such to you as a help and comfort in whatever your distress might be.

    • Dave Miller says

      I’m not so sure, David. At best, its an admission of evil thoughts, right?

      • says

        An admission of struggles, questions, doubts, humanity – and the right thoughts about God. And trust in God, no matter what.

        When I’m crushed and fallen, I’ll say from the depths of my soul, “God is good, and His mercy endures forever.”

        Anyway, that’s the way I see it.
        David R. Brumbelow

  14. Frank says


    I don’t have any sage advice to offer and all the platitudes I could give from the Word you already know, and cliches are like a hungry man trying to feast on the picture of a sandwich.

    I’ll just say: I am going to pray for you after I hit send.

      • Frank L. says


        When my first child, Amanda, died people would come to me and quote Scripture (like Rom 8:28) and share platitudes.

        They meant well–they really did–but I just needed to know they cared. I wasn’t counting on them “fixing anything.”

        Actually, a few knuckleheads even tried “fixing me” assuming that I must certainly deserved what I was facing. And, I couldn’t much argue against them any better than Job when he was told the same thing.

        I just want to encourage you. I’m nobody and I’m not even anywhere near where you are, but I do really care.

        I’ve put a folder on my desk top and I am going to pray for you regularly for at least a week. I always like to tell people how long a plan to pray so they know I am really praying and not just doing the “church thing.”

        If you exhaust all your resources and you are down to the “last straw” and will try anything — I would be glad to fall into that category. Feel free to contact me: jkcfbc@gmail.com if you just want to pray with somebody (or anything else I might be able to do).

        I’d like to tell you that what you do on Voices is a great service to me as a SBC pastor. I greatly appreciate what you do.

  15. says

    Dave, I totally understand and empathize with your situation. My heart goes out to you. It is stressful and hard to stay focused each day when ruin looms over us and answers elude us. It is hard to understand. And I am guessing that is why Proverbs 3:5-6 was written. I have repeated Psalm 138:8 over and over again:

    “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” KJV

    I’ll be praying for you and your family. selahV

  16. Max says

    “God seldom answers the question why to his children.”

    But, I’ve found that He always answers “What?” … “What are you saying Lord?’ …. “What do you want me to do?”

    Praying for you Dave.

  17. Christiane says

    we remember that we are ‘sojourners’ on our way to a final home, so if we have troubles, the ‘this too shall pass’ helps, as well as the old adage ‘this time next year, you will have a whole new set of problems’ . . .

    being sojourners, we can try to have some earthly security, and maybe count on a period of health, if not prosperity,
    but in the end, we all journey with the same need for God
    . . . as the psalmist cries out:

    “My soul thirsts for You;
    my whole body longs for You
    in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.”

    we cannot rest in any security for very long, changes will come in health and in finances, and like Our Lord at the well in Samaria, we too shall become ‘wearied’ by our journey,
    but we may, in Christian community, comfort one another along the way

    St Ignatius of Antioch has spoken of
    “a murmur of living water that whispers within me
    ‘Come, come to the Father’ “.

    sometimes a dry spell in our lives leads us to the Source of our being, the well-spring of all life, and we are refreshed in ways we had not before known could be

    DAVID, be patient and know that God is with you and He protects you from what is truly evil

  18. says

    David, I am afraid it is rather natural to think evil thoughts in times of trial, in times of agony and defeat. Jeremiah certainly demonstrates that fact rather plainly. Even Paul speaks of being in despair of life itself. Feeling cast down is a rather common occurrence from what I have been able to discern in the writings of believers who were honest. I have a book in my library by a fellow who said he wanted to pull God off of his throne and stomp him under his feet. He was horrified at having such thoughts, and who would not be? It is a distressful thing to be denied a cherished goal and objective, but God is not in the business of giving us all that we want. He is in the business of producing a sense of our mission and the need to accomplish that, namely, to do His will for His glory.