If you’ve read any of my past blog posts you probably know that I’m pretty interested in the subjects of happiness, well-being, and mental health. As I’ve researched these topics over the last few years and reflected on how they play out in my own life I’ve often wondered, “Does God care about this stuff?”
My early images of God were of someone who was rather distant and mostly concerned with me making good choices and not sinning. As a kid who just wanted to do the right thing, I initially accepted Christ because that was what I needed to do to get into heaven and avoid going to hell.
I’m sure these images of God were largely informed by my young mind’s inability to comprehend a bigger reality, but I also think the culture I grew up in often reinforced these beliefs. Fortunately over the years my image of God has changed quite drastically and I really do believe he cares about our happiness, well-being, mental health and lots of other important issues.
But I’ve also learned that his care for us goes far beyond that.
The deeper truth is that he loves us more than we can imagine and that love goes way deeper than caring about happiness. In fact, as frustrating as it might be, I’m learning that at times he will sacrifice our happiness (at least temporarily) for the sake of something more important – usually our spiritual growth and the development of our character.
Honestly, a lot of the time I have a hard time understanding or believing in God’s love. There are so many dimensions to it, many of which I will probably never understand. I’ve written about other aspects of his love and character in past posts but I think the best way to understand the type I’m talking about here is that of a father for his children.
Of course he wants us to be happy, to be well and prosperous. But he also wants us to grow into all he created us to be.
Most often it seems like growth involves some pain and often requires temporarily suspending happiness and feeling good for the longer term gain. I think sometimes God will allow this pain so we can grow.
I don’t intend this to be an overly simplistic answer to the question of why God allows us to experience pain and suffering. There are many situations where I’ve seen suffering that simply do not make sense and where I can’t imagine what good could possibly come from it. However, as a parent, I do know there are times when I’ll allow my kids to struggle a bit because I know they need to learn and grow. If I’m only concerned with their happiness and comfort they will not grow into the adults that they are meant to be.
In the end I believe God always has the best in mind for us even if we can’t see it at the time.
That doesn’t mean it is always easy to trust it or that it will always feel good. There are many times where I question what he is doing and want an easy way out, but that usually doesn’t happen. He does promise to always be with us though and we can lean on that. I also know that on the other side of the struggle and pain is always blessing which often includes happiness but usually goes way beyond to something much better.