We say it all the time: God is good. But for some, the massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church threatened our belief in God’s goodness. He is all-powerful and He is sovereign which means He could have prevented this tragedy. But He didn’t.
I cannot argue with those who say, “It’s beyond me—to understand how a good God could let hatred take nine people’s lives? I don’t get it.”
I agree. It is beyond me to grasp why a good God allows this. But God is beyond me. “His ways are not my ways,” Isaiah 55:8. This doesn’t mean He is any less good. It simply means that His definition of good is beyond mine. (Itty bitty brain. Itty bitty definition of good. Vast, all-powerful, unlimited wisdom and knowledge. Higher, more complete definition of good.)
Is it possible that amidst the ocean of sadness whose waves pummeled Charleston last month, our good God is using thousands of His children to toss pebbles of love—pebbles whose ripple effects are bringing one good thing after another?
Steven Curtis Chapman’s pebble was a song. His grief rippled a melodic promise that “Love will Overcome” across Facebook and Youtube.
I gathered with other pebble throwers at my church the night after the news hit. We joined hands, bowed heads, wept, sang, and wept some more. As we quieted our hearts to pray, my favorite hymn kept reverberating in my mind’s ear: “Morning by morning, new mercies I see.” A prayer rose to my lips: “God, Charleston sure could use some new mercies. In the days and weeks and months that follow, please send us new mercies so we can look beyond our hurt and see your love at work.”
I left the church and continued with my evening forgetting about the prayer. The next morning, as I typed away at my laptop, a movement outside my window lured my eyes from the screen. I craned my neck to see what was going on. I heard chatter in the driveway and noticed my neighbor getting out of his car. His very pregnant wife’s due date was last week. For the past few days, things had been quiet next door and we hadn’t heard any news.
As I watched the back door of their SUV open slowly, a God-breathed, new mercy emerged in an infant car carrier. Joy beamed across the young couple’s faces as they carried their new baby girl inside. I heard the excitement in their voices as they welcomed her home. Peace softened the ache of my grieving heart. “Thank you Abba, Daddy, for showing me this new mercy today,” I whispered. “ I really needed that.”
Charleston, my heart grieves for you. But hold on, because our God is faithful, His mercies are new every day, and He is good.
“Great is they faithfulness, oh God my father. Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed thy hand has provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
Be honest: how have such events impacted your faith? How have you seen God’s hand at work in the midst of evil?