Sunday, August 27, 2017

All the time: the (true) Facebook comments that hurt


I was scrolling through social media and stopped to read a few posts. One was from a friend who had recently purchased a new home. Another had accepted a new job offer. Another announced her pregnancy. Another’s loved one was finally in remission from cancer.

As I read each post, I rejoiced with my sisters. I had been praying that many of them would receive these gifts. Through it all, I wanted what was best for them.

But I’ll be honest—the comments were incredibly hard to read, and in some instances moved me to tears. Not happy tears, but tears of frustration and confusion.

We knew you’d get the house! Our God is so good!

Praise God! We have such a good Father.

It was only a matter of time because God is good!

Wow! GOD IS SO GOOD!

My frustration with these comments caught me off guard.  Why should I be frustrated with the truth of God’s goodness? In spite of our struggles, I still believed in God’s goodness with a whole heart. So why did the comments hit my ears like screechy nails on a chalkboard? Was it jealousy, anger, disbelief, or something else?

I realized my frustration came from extracting underlying messages beneath each comment—many of which had hurt me through the years. The commentators may not have even meant these words, but I could not help but hear them.

Beneath the comments, I heard: God always answers our prayers exactly how we want when we ask with faith because he loves us. God is good because your prayer was answered and the healing came. When good things happen, it means God is good. When bad things happen, he must be bad or maybe just doesn’t love you as much as everyone else.

The above comments weren’t written in words, but I couldn’t help but read them underneath the words appearing on the screen. Each one hurt to see. So many times I wanted to step in and assert God’s goodness even if the deal never closed, unemployment remained, the womb was empty, and the cancer spread. I held back simply because the gifts of the original posters each warranted a celebration, not an argument.  This was a time to rejoice with those who rejoice.

Yet as I wrestled through these comments, something important occurred to me—the statement that God is good is true. You get the house, the car, or the job—God is so good and provides for his children. A new life is conceived—God is so good and sovereign over each life. Your loved one is healed of an illness—God is so good and has the power to heal even the most critical form of disease. There was nothing wrong with the original statements, free from the underlying meanings. The commentators should continue to declare God’s goodness. His name deserves to be praised. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge God’s goodness when the earthly good we hope for never comes. God was and is good in the season of waiting, in the pain, and in the "no". His goodness is not conditional.

I must add that we can know something is true, and not always feel it. I know God is good all the time, but there are times when my feelings don't match up and I wrestle to make peace with this tension. When you don't feel the goodness, cling to the promise that it is there--but don't feel shame for the deep grief or the struggle. I think God knows this is all going to be pretty uncomfortable, and beckons us to keep our eyes fixed on Christ--the one who will set all of this discomfort right for eternity. At the times when I felt the most pain, I needed others to show me God's love--the words didn't always comfort, but the love displayed through shared tears, warm meals, and unconditional availability did.

You lost the house—God is still good in this hard season, even when we cannot see. What a blessing that Christ is preparing an eternal place for us with him.

You still aren’t pregnant—God is so good and draws near to the brokenhearted. He provides opportunities be fruitful in our lives, even when the womb is not.

The physical healing never came—In the midst of the pain and anguish, what a blessing to have such a hope in Jesus. God is so good and sacrificed so much to offer us eternal healing.


So yes, God is good. All the time. May we declare his goodness not only in seasons of celebration, but when our dreams unravel and our hearts ache. May we fix our eyes on Christ and all he has done of us, and allow our hearts to be overwhelmed by the glory of his goodness.

13 comments:

  1. Such a good word, sister. We got pregnant with Xavier after dealing with fertility issues. Once we finally started sharing with people we got so many of the same comments you describe here. I think that is part of what made his death so heartbreaking; not only did I lose my baby, but did that mean God wasn't good anymore? At least not to me? Thankfully I am surrounded by Christ centered truth-tellers, and found women like you to remind me of the truth! Hallelujah, what a savior.

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    1. Yes to ALL of this. I can relate to all of those feelings and frustrations. We also got pregnant with Ethan after fertility issues and I heard a lot of the same comments--true statements, but hard to hear in the aftermath of loss. I'm also so thankful for the sisters, like yourself, who get it and can walk alongside each other through the wrestling and grief, and point one another toward the truth. So glad we could connect on here! (I first read your story on Laurelbox's Motherhood Rewritten and really connected with you & your words ❤️)

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  2. I definitely understand what you're saying here. Many don't understand that we are going to suffer and it's inevitable. We must suffer with Christ because we are Coheirs with Christ pressing towards a heavenly inheritance. We celebrate and thank God for getting a great deal on a house but we must encourage others who are suffering. I love the words that you wrote on here and really conveying how you're feeling. 2 Corinthians 1:5-7 echoes in my heart. Thank you!

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