This morning, my four-year-old son woke up and beckoned me upstairs, as he usually does. He asked what day it was, and when I answered, he declared with excitement, “We get to see Grammy and Pop-Pop today!” My heart sank, and I took a deep breath before explaining that no, we wouldn’t.
His face twisted. His arms started flailing. He began to sob. This has been happening almost daily now, since everything has turned onto its head, for every day some expectation has been met with disappointment and confusion.
“Why?!” he wailed, and my soul echoed his Why? I, too, have found that question on my lips so many times this week. How do I explain all this to him when I don’t fully understand it myself? I prayed. And so I pieced together an explanation of the world being sick and not wanting to put anyone, and especially his grandparents at risk, and while I wove the explanation together with empathy and offered it in a calm voice, I watched as he began to writhe.
Then, his body stilled, his eyes exceptionally green against his red face, and he choked out quietly, “God is not a good Daddy. He’s making everyone sick.”
It was if the bottom fell out of my heart. Because I’ve been there.
The Great Lie
How many times have I thought that very thought: “God is not a good Daddy”? How many times have I, out of response to my circumstances, believed that same lie that He was not trustworthy or good?
Years ago, when I was recovering from severe trauma, I had struggled to believe that God is good. He existed, I knew, but how could he be good and have allowed that to happen? I wrestled and wrestled and some days, I still wrestle.
But I don’t think I’m alone. Haven’t we all, at some point, believed that lie?
God is not a good Daddy – He let me lose my job.
God is not a good Daddy – He let me lose my child.
God is not a good Daddy – He let me lose my health.
God is not a good Daddy – He let me lose my marriage.
God is not a good Daddy – He let my child forsake the faith.
God is not a good Daddy – He let me endure trauma.
God is not a good Daddy – He let me suffer with anxiety and depression.
God is not a good Daddy – He let me suffer pain.
God is not a good Daddy – He let me become addicted.
God is not a good Daddy – He could have prevented this, but He didn’t.
To doubt the goodness of God is the root of all sin, isn’t it? The lie that God isn’t good is the Great Lie.
The Work of the Enemy
The deceit planted in Eve by the Serpent began as a seed of doubt in God’s goodness. He led Eve to believe that her Father was withholding goodness from her, that He couldn’t be trusted, and that she needed to take matters into her own hands. And despite having all of her needs met, despite having been in life-giving relationship with her Good Daddy, she chose to believe the lie instead of trust in the goodness of the Father. And Adam quickly followed suit.
Since then, the Enemy has taken all the consequences of sin and tried to twist them into being God’s fault. Surely, there are consequences for sin: death, illness, suffering, pain, shame, broken relationships, separation from God. But these evil things are not of the Lord. In fact, in God’s goodness, He has worked to turn evil into good, darkness into light. His is the story of redemption, mercy, justice, truth, faithfulness, and love.
Yet the enemy continues to try and tempt us to doubt God’s goodness. This is the Enemy’s go-to move. He even tried to use it on Jesus himself when he was in the wilderness.
Christ was in a desolate, isolated, lonely place when he was tempted. He was hungry and weary and no doubt weak. It was prime time for the Enemy to sneak in and try to plant the seed of doubt.
When he tempted the Christ, the underlying message was the same one that he conjured in the garden: The Father was withholding goodness from him, that the Father couldn’t be trusted, that Jesus needed to take matters into his own hands. God isn’t a Good Daddy, he whispered.
But Jesus combatted the lie with the Word of Truth and with faith in the goodness of His Father. He overcame the temptation, and passed the test.
And that is how we, too, will overcome.
The Work of God
When Levi confessed his belief in that ancient lie, the Holy Spirit gave me words to speak: words of Truth.
“No, Levi,” I said, sobbing myself. “God is always good. He is still a good Daddy. You have to remember that God has an enemy.”
He looked up earnestly, remembering: “The serpent in the garden?”
“Yes,” I said, nodding. “The enemy wants to go against the good that God is done. He is the one who lies to us, who causes distress and is the source of sadness. It is not God who has made people sick – it is the enemy.”
And then I began telling Him the truths of Scripture. And as I began to tell him the Truth, it ministered to my own soul in a profound way. God is good. God can only do good. God is for us. God does not willingly grieve the souls of men. God is grieved by our grief. God sees and bottles up our tears, and one day he will wipe them all away. God will never leave us or forsake us. God will provide for us. God is faithful. God is trustworthy. God will work all things together for our good, because we love Him. And our Father God loves us. He has rescued us from death, and He will rescue us from this.
When the Holy Spirit had finished pouring out truth over my son, I asked, “Do you understand?” I did not shame him for doubting God’s goodness. I wanted him to see the Father’s goodness and love demonstrated in my own posture toward him. I felt at peace when he willingly crawled into my lap and let me hold him. Tears were falling down both of our cheeks. I praised God that he expressed his feelings and did not fear my reaction – for it was because of his confession that he was able to hear the Truth.
And as he lay in my lap, I prayed over my son, and over us all – that we would believe in His goodness and trust in His character, even when things seemed bleak – that we would exhale the lie and inhale the Truth: that God is still a good Daddy.
Let’s Believe the Truth
Friends, we are in a time of wilderness. We are in a desolate, isolated, lonely space. We are hungry and weary and weak. It is no wonder that we will be tempted to doubt. Let us not be ashamed of this doubt and bury it deep where it can take root and grow. Instead, let’s confess it to the One who is Light and Truth. Just as He did with Peter, when the Enemy had got into his head, God will rebuke the lie, but He will not rebuke us. Let your good Daddy speak his Truth over you and hold you in His arms.
When the tempter comes to tempt us to despair, then, let’s rebuke him with the Truth of God’s goodness and faithfulness and love. Let’s find our strength in the arms of the Father who has already done great work to redeem our souls and who has promised to work all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Some Great Truths
Here is just a small selection of Truths from Scripture to combat the lies and help us trust that God is still a good Daddy.
We are God’s beloved children.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
I John 3:1-2, ESV
Our Father desires to give us good gifts.
“…which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Matthew 7:9-11, ESV
Every good gift we’ve been given is from Him.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17, ESV
It is impossible for God to do evil.
“Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding:
far be it from God that he should do wickedness,
and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.”
Job 34:10, ESV
He will bring good out of evil.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Genesis 5:20, ESV
He works all things for our good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28, ESV
We seek refuge in our Daddy and trust that our suffering will result in goodness.
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
God is a powerful protector who delights in you.
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17, ESV
He cares about your grief.
“You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?”
Psalm 56:8, ESV
You can trust Him and pour our your heart to Him.
“Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.”
Psalm 62:8, ESV
His presence is our peace in times of darkness.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
He will go with us into times of uncertainty.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9, ESV
Distance from God is a natural consequence of sin; He does not delight in our grief and will redeem us with compassion and love.
“For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.”
Lamentations 3:31-33, ESV
God will make all things new.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”
Revelation 21:3-5, ESV
God is for us, and nothing can separate us from His love
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:31-39, ESV