It is such a joy to be able to write to you all today, I am so grateful to Elizabeth Musser for her kindness in giving me the opportunity to share what’s on my heart right now.
Today, I was reflecting upon what it looks like to have a thankful and grateful heart before God. Lately, I have struggled with seeing the good things God is doing in my life and others’ lives as well, while still watching the bad things that continue to happen to really wonderful people who have been a blessing in my life. When I struggle with the unfairness of this realization, I often have to check my heart and see if I disbelieve the goodness of God or if I just distrust that his promises are true. If I had to relate to one person in the Bible who meets Jesus, it would definitely be “Doubting Thomas”. I don’t ever feel tempted as Peter did to deny Jesus before men, but I do more often wonder why God allows suffering and how it can be a part of his perfect plan. Reading C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Problem of Pain” helped me since realizing that a great thinker and scholar like Lewis also struggled with this contradiction as well. Questioning God’s movements and his plan for our lives and the destiny of the world is something that happens when I forget the goodness of God. Just the presence of difficulty in the lives of others can be troubling though when you know that they carry a heavy burden. All I want to do is make it easier somehow for them and myself, but this is not possible, and so I get stuck sometimes.
What I like about Elizabeth Musser’s characters is their realness. I feel they are real life friends that I know. I struggle right along with Lissa Randall as she grieves and wants to give up, or how Mary Swan is angry at the world after she loses her mother, or when Perri Singleton’s world is falling apart during the Great Depression. She illustrates how they need to reach out for help, and not struggle alone but also how in our own loss and grief we truly become aware of the needs of those around us. Difficult times and suffering in our lives take off the rose colored glasses we may have worn before and show us the challenging reality of the lives of others living all around us. What I learned from the lives of the characters in Elizabeth Musser’s books and in my own life as well, is that for some, from their first day on earth things have never been rosy at all.
To believe in the goodness of God is doubly harder and more challenging when the “unkindness (of one’s personal experience) makes it unbelievable to find kindness elsewhere”(to quote another favorite character – Elinor Dashwood from Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”). I think that honest and truthful relationships are the key – real friends and family who will boldly speak truth into our lives, especially when the voices inside our heads or even of people around us only speak words of sadness or despair. It is so valuable to have friends and family who point us back to Christ, his character and his goodness – and not back to the circumstances themselves for all the answers to the questions we are facing.
Sharing our troubles, prayers and requests to God in a small group Bible study is such a blessing, because the act of sharing with each other and bringing it to God in prayer keeps our focus on Him and also reminds us that we are not alone on this journey. This is the gift of communion and fellowship in the body of Christ. Keeping a journal to record the things I am concerned about and giving them to God in private prayer is an essential exercise for me. And I am astonished when I look back even only weeks or months later to see how God has provided or given me even something else instead of what I wanted to happen.
But it was always for my good, usually the way I wanted things to be is clearly not right later upon reflection and does make more sense in hindsight. I love going back and adding little notes with a new date beside – “prayer: answered! It turned out ok” or “actually this didn’t work out but instead God gave me this…” Truly, as forgetful as I am, writing down the troubles, the prayer requests, the struggles with sin, and naming the victories is one of the most liberating things I get to do while spending time with Jesus. Because I write so much and so often, I have a record of how many things that God has done in my life – to remind me when I doubt his goodness in the present circumstances. I love how he really meets me there each time – holding all my fears, my worries and concerns and lovingly answering and providing for me in his own perfect timing.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.”
An attitude of praise and thanksgiving literally changes our whole self. It is challenging to be grateful in times of blessing and even trials we experience on earth. And to find the good in things is not an exercise in ignoring difficult reality but recognizing that the greater reality is already established in who God is – and so we can truly put our trust in Him. Our health in our bodies literally improves when we trust in the Lord and sing his praises, even when our own minds and emotions are dragging us down by difficult times and circumstances.
And perhaps the most precious part is the end of that verse…His love endures forever! We can give thanks and be truly thankful because God is good.
In the second book of the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, Mr. Beaver says to the ever cautious Susan in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, “Safe?…Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He is the King, I tell you.”
Before she can commit to an unknown adventure and before she can open up herself to the possibility of loss in her life, Susan wanted to know if she could really trust Aslan. Mr. Beaver assures her that she can trust Aslan both because of his greatness and his goodness. I know that Susan certainly has her faults in the stories, but truthfully I think I relate to her most because of her practical and straightforward view of things, wanting to see the evidence and doubting the appearance of goodness. It is an incredible leap of faith for her to believe that Aslan is the Great Lion and that he is good. When she does choose to follow Aslan, she experiences not only the adventure but also the safety that she really wanted – protection from the dangers that she was afraid of.
Since Aslan represents Jesus in the story, I love how C.S. Lewis is showing us through the eyes of a little girl what it looks like to put our trust in the great and good Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ. Little Lucy Penvensie leads her family into the magical snowy wood guarded by a single lamppost where she believes at once in Aslan and decides to follow him. Her faith is simple – Aslan is trustworthy because he is both great and good. While Susan and Edmund needed some more convincing, I think that C.S. Lewis knew all of us are somewhere in between all of the four Penvensie children and can relate to how we choose to follow Jesus. The fact that Jesus Christ is both great and good at the same time is at once a logical contradiction in our minds as well as a wonderful miracle upon deeper reflection.
If you stop and think about it, one without the other is really pointless. If someone was supremely great but entirely wicked, the world would be at the mercy of the whims of a total selfish all-powerful being with the ability to exert their selfish will on everyone else. Many religions believe in such a cruel and all-powerful version of a god whom they have to appease through deeds in the god’s name and sacrifices. However, what pleases a wicked all-powerful god will lead to wicked deeds done in the god’s name.
On the other hand, while it might be nice to think of a god who was only supremely good, this would not be of any use to anyone else either. The world would perhaps be blessed by the goodness of the deity, but without the power to wield the goodness and make things right, the good deity would be passive or worse, unable to act and wickedness would still prevail more often than it already does in this world. There would also be no true justice for the vulnerable people in the world because only through the power to do good is justice given to those in need.
Yes, our God is both supremely great and supremely good! Praise God!
When it is hard to trust in God, despite our circumstances, we know we can because of God’s true character. Putting our whole dependence and trust in Him is actually the safest place, because while there may be dangers to face, the truth is we would face them with or without God’s help and loving presence in our lives. Wouldn’t you rather have Jesus by your side while you face the dangers in your life? I certainly would. When I try to rely on my own strength, it is truly terrifying and not worth the risk at all. Better to trust in the loving arms of our precious Savior, Jesus Christ.
“But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he is good to me.”
Trusting in God is a gift of the Holy Spirit. I truly celebrate when I can put my trust in Him, even when my emotions are spent or my mind is playing horrible tricks on me. The act of faith in God with his power will carry me through because “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world!” (1 John 4:4)
God’s unfailing love is worth rejoicing for! He rescued us once, and He continues to rescue us, over and over again – like the forgetful sheep that we are. And because God is good, we get to sing His praises! My heart needs to sing, I need to remember what God has done, either by writing it down, praying it aloud or sharing it with others. This testimony reorients my own gaze back to Jesus, knowing that He has done it all. He has paid it all and he continues to work in our lives in both total goodness and total power.
I hope this encourages you today, I am still working on these things myself, but the struggle in the journey is certainly worth it because of the wonderful, loving, kind, powerful and good God that we serve.
Blessings to you,
Meghan Lacey was raised in sunny and warm climate of Central Florida and has spent the last ten years living in the beautiful foothills of Georgia. She credits her mother, Lyn Lacey, as her inspiration for her artistic endeavors. While still in high school, Meghan received classical drawing and oil painting instruction from Chris DiDomizio from 2008-2012 and watercolor painting instruction from Dylan Scott Pierce from 2009 until 2012. From 2014 to 2015, Meghan took private lessons from portrait artist Leah Burchfield Mantini. She has taken workshops from renowned artists such as Don Sondag, Jordan Sokol, Amaya Gurpide, Mia Bergeron, Anne Blair Brown, Dylan Scott Pierce, Brett Weaver, and Suzy Schultz. During the fall semester of 2016, she studied abroad at Oxford University through the Scholars’ Semester at Oxford, where she studied History of Art as a registered visiting student. Meghan graduated with her B.A. in Art and Design, with a Concentration in Painting and a Minor in Art History at LaGrange College in May of 2017. During the growing season of 2020, she learned the art of organic farming at Serenbe Farms, GA. As of Spring 2021, Meghan is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Painting, through the Academy of Art University, in San Francisco, CA. She recently was privileged to have her artwork featured in British Vogue’s April, May and June 2021 print and online issues.