I grew up in a day and age in the church where the response to every good thing that happened in life was “God is good.” I still hear it today nearly daily in my Christian circles and see it all across social media. Someone get’s a promotion or gets blessings of some sort and everyone’s response is, “Wow! God is good.” Someone gives their life to Christ or gets healed of a physical ailment and everyone’s response is, “God is good!” There is nothing wrong with that phrase in and of itself. God is most definitely good. His goodness blows my mind on a regular basis. BUT, it has absolutely nothing to do with our circumstances. It is an innocent enough statement but it speaks worlds about our view of God and our view of the place of blessings as well as trials in our lives. It suggests that His goodness is contingent on circumstances when in fact, His very nature is goodness. When good or bad things happen to us, it isn’t God’s nature that changed, it is merely our perspective of Him that changed. And this is incredibly important for us to acknowledge. The goodness of God is not a conditional element of His character, instead it is a character trait that applies to every other attribute of His character (Psalm 16:2 & Matthew 19:16-17). I think we often find ourselves believing this in theory but rarely in practice.

Scripture tells us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). I know from experience how easy it is to hear that scripture and with a hint of bitterness or pain say, “yeah, whatever”. In my experience, that response often is in a large part due to basing our view of God’s goodness off of our present circumstances. Often, if our life doesn’t look like we think it should look we start playing the blame game. There was a time in my life where I assumed blessings = God is happy with me and troubles = God is angry with me. But soon enough God lovingly revealed the truth of His character to me and I realized that God’s character is far more beautiful and complex than anything I could have ever imagined. I realized that the God we serve doesn’t work on a tit for tat system. His favor isn’t merited, just as much as His discipline isn’t punishment. Instead, through His goodness, He allows both joy and trial into the life of the believer. And often even what satan or other individuals mean for pain or destruction, God can turn around for good. Take for instance Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” which was brought about by a “messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7), and yet God permitted this so His strength might be manifested through Paul’s weakness (12:7-10). And earlier in the old testament we see how the “evil” Joseph’s brothers intended against him God intended “for good” (Genesis 50:20). Whatever comes into the life of the Christian is a part of God’s purpose to bring about our good and His glory.

And this is where it gets difficult and where I want to put down the pen. The past few months of my life have been difficult. They have at times been painful. I’ve had to walk through more than one hard, even life-altering circumstance. BUT I acknowledge here that my present struggles don’t compare to the pain or loss that others across the globe are currently walking through or have walked through in their past. I acknowledge that there are those out there who have lost children, parents, a spouse, family members and friends. There are those who have had to fight through terminal cancer or live with a life altering ailment. I don’t want to even pretend to understand the pain that others have had to walk through. I have no place, no voice to share apart from the truth of scripture and the power of its’ work in the life of the believer.

One story that I am reminded of here and that has ministered to me tremendously in the past while walking through trial is that of the great hymnist Horatio Spafford and the origin of his song, It Is Well. If you don’t know the back story of the song, it was written during a time of incredible loss in His life. During the Great Chicago fire of the late 1800’s He had planned to travel to Europe with his family. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone …”. Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

In the midst of tragedy. In the midst of pain. In the midst of losing all 4 of His daughters as well as a son and everything He had worked for in America, He was able to respond to God, “It is well.” The power and beauty of that blows my mind. And I make that my prayer for myself and for anyone reading this, that you would truly know and understand God’s goodness in spite of your present circumstances. I truly believe that that is the call on the life of every believer. That no matter what we walk through in this life, no matter the pain, the loss, the heartache or even the blessings, the beauty or gain, that we would be able to say to God, “You are truly good”… That our response in every season could be, ”Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Mandy Dobbelmann

Founder and editor of Forte E Bello. Mandy is writer, singer/songwriter, and music teacher with a love for life, people, adventure and living simply. She is passionate about using her gift for writing and music to be a voice for change.

19 Comments

  1. Reply

    peterrabbit412

    June 5, 2014

    Whenever I go looking for blogs and friends on this site, somehow, someway I’m always bombarded with blogs that are about god and it drives me insane. When I reached your blog I was hoping maybe I’d hear something other than praise and wonder over “god” and his grace. I just really don’t understand. I mean how can you be a smart, intelligent person, and not see that were you born in Afghanistan you’d be a Muslim, or China a Buddhist?

    I don’t mean to dump all over you, but why not write about how it’s not all black and white, that god isn’t great or that things aren’t always a blessing b/c life is a mystery?? I try to be somewhat tolerant towards believers and keepers of the faith, but it seems like a 24hr party of praise all the time and the world isn’t all that wonderful and when I read the bible well… god didn’t seem that great a guy either.

    I don’t know if you’re even still reading this comment since it’s probably the opposite of your thinking and therefore something someone might turn away from, but when I think of Jesus I also think of Buddha, Odin, Thor, Ra the Egyptian sun god, Allah, and all the other gods the human race has had. I think about how I’m handed tracts on the street everyday when I’m walking to work and yet something the believers never consider is… I never asked Jesus to die. I never asked for any human sacrifice shit to ever happen.

    I find the world of salvation damnation to be a bit unimaginative and boring really. I don’t understand the fascination with this pie in the sky promise you guys talk about all day long. I mean does your indoctrination really run that deep, are you guys that brain washed that you can’t have a thought beyond “your god”? I don’t know why people think being a christian is a noble thing. To me that’s the biggest sin of all.

    • Reply

      Mandy Dobbelmann

      June 6, 2014

      Hey Peter, I’m guessing that is your name.? First off, I want to thank you for your honesty, in spite of our different beliefs. I really appreciate you being truthful and even challenging me a bit. Regarding your first statement, the reason you feel bombarded with blogs about God on this site is because that is the whole point of this site. I wouldn’t be on here writing if it wasn’t for my faith and my convictions. They motivate everything I do and every word I write even if it isn’t specifically about God. If that’s not what you’re looking for then this site might not be the one to go to. I recognize I am speaking to a specific audience and I am okay with that. Also, perhaps you haven’t actually read my blog posts in their entirety? Much of the theme of this blog is discussing the reality of pain, struggle and trial in this life. I am not attempting to ignore the big issues that plague us in this life. My aim however is to not leave people hopeless but to speak hope into others lives as we learn to walk through and deal with the trials as well as the beauty in this life. 



      Thanks for bringing up the question about how my place of origin impacts my religion. I have actually wrestled with that question several times throughout my life, particularly 2 years ago while on a trip in Israel. I remember being in Jerusalem walking the Cerro de la cruz and standing in the tomb that the protestants claim is where Jesus rose from the dead. I recognized I was in a city that is the center of the 3 major religions of the world. I saw first hand how devout both the muslims and the jews were in their faith. I knew that if I had been born elsewhere I may be a Muslim or a Jew or Buddhist but I had to acknowledge that by the sovereignty of God I was not. In spite of my skepticism, by the end of the trip I was able to see the extent to which the life of Jesus Christ transformed not only that culture but the entire world. I recognized that either He was a the son of God or Lunatic and after years of wrestling, researching, studying and most importantly praying, I can stand here today confidant that Jesus Christ is the one true God. I recognize everyone’s journey looks different and I could write page after page of historical facts and figures to try and prove my point to you but to me that is not what my faith is about. It is called “faith” for a reason. In and of myself I can prove nothing to you. Faith is a choice of the heart and it is something I am willing devote every day of my life to living for. There is a good discussion on this topic by Timothy Keller if you’re interested in checking it out at this link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9jHlrMRJAo

And

      Finally, to address your last statement. The reason I believe Christianity is noble is because it is the only religion in the world that teaches everything that is exactly contrary to our human nature: love, self-sacrifice, service, virtue, living for something greater than ourselves. Those are virtues no man made religion could come up. There is depth and meaning to it. If I am going to believe in something I better believe in it wholeheartedly. For me to condone relativism would be to reject everything that Jesus Christ taught. You can call it “pie in the sky” but if you really think about it, it takes more faith to be an atheist or agnostic than it does to be a Christian. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wish you the best on your journey… I am glad you have a journey and that you’re seeking answers.



      • Reply

        peterrabbit412

        June 8, 2014

        I want you to know that I did read your post, and your reply, but not all of your writings. I’m smiling while writing this, it’s nice that you took my criticism with grace and humility and that surprised me.

        I want to say that I have no problems with spirituality, it’s religion however where I think we run into some major problems. I was in a really bad mood the day I wrote you. You see I work in the city of Pittsburgh and I do a lot of mail courier type work.

        As I walk from place I honestly receive on average 4 tracts a day usually from the most devout of the faithful. I know they truly believe that I am hell bound and they are doing what they think is right.

        I promote open mindedness, another reason I was smiling to read your response was that you seem to be quite receptive in hearing opinions contrary to your own. I will check out the discussion link you had sent.

        I’d like to share with you something rather personal. While I haven’t been to Israel or any place like it, I have had some wonderful adventures while reading. A particular book that really loosened up my views on Christianity was “The Celestine Prophecy”

        At the end of this book it explains that Jesus unlike any human before had reached a higher level of consciousness. It goes on to suggest that during the height of his greatest struggle he found a way to still emit pure love and understanding allowing him to ascend to higher vibrational frequency.

        This frequency is one of love, pure and complete. To the barbaric eyes watching they saw a man blip out of reality and they took it as ascending into heaven. When looking for answers I think we need to be willing to look past the safety of “miracles” and the like.

        I don’t believe in a black and white heaven and hell. I think it’s of the utmost importance that we as humans say “I do not know.” and run with it. I heard you loud and clear when you spoke of faith, I want you to know that.

        I’d like to share that my faith runs with knowing that things are not so specifically compartmentalized. I see churches everywhere. They cannot say with an open heart that they have ever made a mistake in what they hold to be true. As a result you have a million sub-divisions of the same basic understanding; Born again Christians, Christians, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Evangelical, etc. and to my eyes… a church divided is no church at all.

        I apologize for lumping you in such a specific mindset. I just wish to see the barriers lifted and the restrictions placed on this issue by mankind let go.

        To say I am an Atheist is to say “I do no know.” I do not believe Jesus was God. I believe Jesus found a truth in love, that it is available to any of us. Having read the bible I see a first century author. I see humans trying to “control” one another with the fear of the unknown. I could go on but I’m quite sure you’ve encountered my way of thinking before.

        Thank you for taking in my words kindly and with respect. I do hope you were not offended. I simply wish for mankind to find peace and love without all the rules and conditions b/c I do believe it is something available to us all with nothing else in its way.

  2. Reply

    Liv Migenes (@ShineLivShine)

    June 6, 2014

    This is beautiful Mandy! Romans 8:28 has been a constant life line when times have been hard and it’s a verse I’ve shared with many who are going through trials. From the overflow of our hearts, our mouth speaks and for Spafford to say, It is well with my soul, shows how God was his source and his strength. This can be a gentle correction for us who are quick to mumble like the Israelites when we are not constantly in seasons of comfort. God is God no matter our circumstances and His character never changes.

    • Reply

      Mandy Dobbelmann

      June 6, 2014

      So true Liv. That’s such a great point. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Reply

    Vicki

    June 6, 2014

    Yes, I often reflect on Jesus’ story of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus, homeless (it seems) and very ill, was blessed – the rich man was not.

    • Reply

      Mandy Dobbelmann

      June 6, 2014

      That’s such a great perspective. Thanks for sharing @Vicki

  4. Reply

    Andrew

    June 6, 2014

    Excellent. Rm 8:28 says it all. Hang in there, Mandy. Praying for you in a special way.

    • Reply

      Mandy Dobbelmann

      June 6, 2014

      Thanks Andrew. I really appreciate the prayers

  5. Reply

    Jim

    June 6, 2014

    Very well said! A beautiful reminder of God’s love! Thank you!

    • Reply

      Mandy Dobbelmann

      June 6, 2014

      Thanks Jim!

  6. Reply

    glowingscenes

    June 6, 2014

    Mandy…., I don’t know if there’s a way you read my mind or if it’s the HolySpirit that made you to write a whole post on something I was currently reflecting on. lol. That God is good no matter what happens. Let all men be liars and God be true. It’s not easy o. I’ve had things happen in my life that have even made me cry. At a time I didn’t even understand what God was doing in my life and that of my family. I mean people would come out and testify of how God was so good by blessing them et al and I would wonder if there was something I wasn’t doing right.

    Sometimes, I would feel God was angry at me. Even till now, sometimes I have to encourage myself in Jesus that He is good. Even things don’t happen my way, that doesn’t stop Him from being good. All things work together for my good. It took me years to get to this point and though I still need grace because sometimes, I really feel I can’t go on, I’ll look to Him because I have no other. He’s the only one I can run to, who knows me, who loves me since He says so in his word. And so if he loves me, he can never wish me harm.

    That man who sang that it is well song eh, I don’t know how he did it but I pray that God crucifies my flesh to that point where I just move according to his will where He leads me.

    I’ll like to share this post if you don’t mind.

    • Reply

      Mandy Dobbelmann

      June 6, 2014

      Wow Itunu! That’s so crazy. So glad God is speaking similar things to both of our hearts. 🙂 Thanks also for sharing your thoughts and experience. I know exactly what you mean! I’ve felt the same thing at times in the past and even recently. That was a bit of the inspiration for this post. And no prob, you can most definitely share it. I hope you’re doing well! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Reply

    dejidope

    June 6, 2014

    wow wow wow, for the last couple of months i have been feeling like this, thanks so much for this

    • Reply

      Mandy Dobbelmann

      June 6, 2014

      For sure @dejidope. I’m so glad you can relate

  8. Reply

    Jane Anderson

    June 7, 2014

    I’m glad God doesn’t have mood swings. He is good because that is His nature. It’s dependent on nothing other than He is God. He is I Am. God doesn’t hold himself up to our standard. Instead He is the standard by which all things are.

    • Reply

      Mandy Dobbelmann

      June 9, 2014

      So true. Thanks for sharing @Jane

  9. Reply

    Olivia T

    June 10, 2014

    Absolutely LOVE your blog! I’ve been looking for something like this one. So inspiring

LEAVE A COMMENT


RELATED POSTS