Early on a Saturday morning, I cradle a mug of coffee in my hands and sit in silence as the world begins to wake up.
The earth is turning cold and the pale blue sky hints at autumn’s arrival, and here I sit — watching the leaves blow outside my window and feeling things churn inside of me.
There is something about October that brings me to mourn, and there is something about this mourning that brings me to my knees. Whether by the change of the seasons or because the world seems to still be spinning slowly, I feel the pangs of loss, and I quietly grieve, telling God all of the things that I miss.
I miss long walks by the ocean at sunset with the sun warming my bones.
I miss long nights spent with a dozen friends around a bonfire, pretending none of us have work in the morning.
I miss sitting in tiny corner booths of crowded Italian restaurants on cobbled city streets and waiting for mediocre pizza and ice-cold pitchers to drink from.
I miss late nights and early mornings and long flights to new places carrying a too-large backpack around unfamiliar cities.
I miss settling into cafes with average lattes and music obnoxiously loud above my head, making it impossible to get work done and instead forcing me to be present in moments of imperfection.
I miss being pressed up against strangers on the train and sharing unspoken moments of uncomfortable camaraderie.
I miss the season of boldly asking God for things and being floored as I watched Him give good gifts abundantly. I miss the season of hope and newness.
Now I sit here in the cold and fight the pessimistic voice inside my head that watches the leaves turn from green to brown and concludes that everything is dying.
But hope, my old friend – I forget about it sometimes. Maybe it’s time I stopped forgetting.
I’ve given a lot of thought to hope over the past year. I used to be afraid to hope for good things because I struggled to believe that God wanted us to hope for anything other than Him. My hope was in God — dare I voice a desire for anything else?
But I have come to believe that hoping in God also means trusting in who He says He is. Yes, my hope is ultimately set in eternity and the glory that He has won for my soul, but I am also allowed to hope for good things because I know that my Father delights in giving His endlessly-loved children good gifts.
The world seems to be falling apart, and yet, God is good all the same.
I wrestle to understand the depths of His goodness at times when I feel forgotten and confused. Yes, everyone feels forgotten and confused, but simple solidarity does not fix pain. Being in a sinking ship with friends does not save the ship.
But I take heart knowing Jesus is in my ship with me.
When I read the story of Jesus falling asleep in the boat when His friends were in the middle of the storm, I feel their confusion and anger. If the God of everything is here in this with me, why is He not doing anything? Why do I feel like I am about to drown in my loss and my grief? Why do I feel so deserted? Does He not know I could lose it all here?
And then He calms the storm.
And everything is still.
And His friends are floored by His power, even though they knew what He could do and thought they believed it.
Jesus doesn’t calm every storm. But there is no power or mercy that He lacks. He’s aware, even when it seems like He’s asleep. He’s God, after all – if I do not believe He can do all things, and that everything He does is for good, then I do not believe in the Divinity of my God. If my problems are too big for my Savior to handle, then the Savior I believe in isn’t big enough.
But this Jesus isn’t just my Rescuer. He is, and He is also my Friend. The Sympathizer with every one of my weaknesses. The Intercessor for my soul. The One who allows me to hope for good things because He Himself is good. But that doesn’t mean everything is guaranteed to be okay right this second.
I don’t know what that goodness always looks like.
God is good and we suffer.
God is good and we experience loss.
God is good and we grieve.
But not all things are broken.
The world is broken and the sun still rises.
The world is broken and we fall in love.
The world is broken and we have the hope of eternity.
The world is broken and God is kind.
God is good, and bad things happen. The world is broken, and God abundantly blesses us with good things.
The miraculous day of a child taking a first tentative breath in the world is the day another exhales for the last time. I don’t understand it fully and “the world is broken because of sin” doesn’t soothe a suffering soul. We don’t want an explanation for pain – we want it to cease. We think we want reasons, but we really want comfort. We want hope. We want assurance that things are going to be okay.
And there’s this strange dichotomy here – God doesn’t promise every good thing here on earth but He delights in giving good things all the same. He provides for our every need but He is the One who determines what those needs are. And even still, He is the abundant provider of good, gracious, undeserved gifts.
James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift is from above, and so it is. Matthew 7:11 says our God gives good gifts to those who ask, and so He does.
He gives sunsets and friendships, star-littered skies and love stories, and He provides for our every need in ways we could never orchestrate on our own. He answers prayers while they’re still just whispers in our hearts, and He provides people who speak life and wisdom and grace. How abundantly does He lavish His love.
I am learning to trust that my God is good.
His good is not cruel or heartless or mean – He is the One who dreamed up good, who designed good, who gave good a definition.
I desperately miss the way things used to be and yet I am learning to trust that my God knows what He’s doing. I am learning to have hope – hope in the character of my God to bless me with the eternal hope He’s promised and hope that He will be deeply good and abundantly kind to me right here, today.
Our God is a God of good gifts. Hallelujah.