Tag Archives: Is God good?

God And Your Grief

Do you ever wonder if God cares?

I’ve never questioned God’s existence—too many divine encounters have occurred in my life to undermine my belief in God.

But this week has knocked me off-center a bit.

Six months ago a woman in my small group community died of breast cancer. She was in her late forties and left behind an adoring husband, three beautiful daughters, and one granddaughter. The recovery from the jolt has been hard on everyone–especially the family.

Then Tuesday, the oldest daughter—only 20 years old—died unexpectedly. She left behind a three year old daughter and a devastated family.

Tuesday morning walking down the hospital corridors toward the young girl’s room, I looked up and blurted, “God, are you kidding me?!?”

Where Is God In Your Grief?

Dealing with hard news like this isn’t easy for anyone. And growing bitter against God is understandable. I’ve long believed that the challenge in moments like these is to hold three characteristics of God in tension:

  • God is all-powerful
  • God is all-wise
  • God is good

If one of the above statements is false, then God is off the hook—except for the “good” part. What if God isn’t good? What if he allows bad things to happen to good people for no good reason? At the moment I’m wrestling with the goodness of God—yet deep inside I also know that he only works good in the lives of the people who love him.

Here’s how I’m processing through the tragedy of this week.

Here is a photo of me when I was child. What can it tell you about me?

I was a pretty cute kid!

You can tell I’m riding a horse, so I must be living on a farm

You may even extrapolate that I’m a country boy, to quote the late John Denver song.

Actually, I was living in urban Denver at the time. A man was going door-to-door through our neighbor offering to take photographs of children sitting on his pony, for a price of course.

That photo is snapshot of one moment in my life—and a far cry of what I’m really like. But if that was the only way you knew me, it would give you a false sense of who I really am.

In the same way, every moment is a snapshot of God’s interaction with us. But all of us know that a single snapshot cannot define a person. And one snapshot cannot define the totality of God’s character. A photo album does a much better job of expressing the person’s life. Yet still, photo albums have limitations. Perhaps significant photos are missing. And how can we still know what the person is really like inside?

This is a start, but I’m interested in reading your thoughts.

(Please keep the family in your prayers. The memorial service is Saturday morning.)

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.


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One Reason Why So Many Men Could Care Less About God

By Michael J. Klassen

“How many of you would say that, growing up, you had a healthy relationship with your father? Would you raise your hands?”

Years ago I attended a church men’s retreat with about 80 other men. The speaker spent the weekend addressing the relationships between fathers and their sons. On Saturday morning, he asked us a probing question that generated a very unexpected response.

I raised my hand, assuming a good number of other men would join me. Ironically enough, the only hands raised were my father’s and mine. Out of 80 men!

“I’m not surprised,” the speaker confessed.

Then he organized us into groups of 4 or 5 and asked every participant to describe his relationship with his father.

Over the next two hours, multiple men in every group sobbed uncontrollably. The wailing drowned out the discussion. I’ve never seen so many men cry—even at a funeral.

My experience that weekend opened my eyes to the reason so many men struggle in their relationship with God.

Over my 24 years in pastoral ministry, I’ve noticed a pattern. Our view of God is often determined by the relationship we experienced with our fathers. Women, please don’t take offense at my observation, because none is intended. But to a great extent, our relationship with our earthly fathers affects the way we view God.

If you grew up without a father, chances are much greater that you tend toward believing in a God who either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care about you.

If you grew up with an abusive father, you likely believe that God is abusive with you.

If you grew up with a passive father, you believe God is powerless.

The same applies to manipulative fathers, deceptive fathers, unfaithful fathers…and good fathers.

Obviously, Jesus enjoyed a close, loving, intimate relationship with his father.

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Jesus’ Father Is Your Father

The correlation between earthly fathers and God shouldn’t come as a surprise. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he instructed them to begin by saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Few if any people before Jesus addressed God Almighty as “father.” To many, the term of endearment was considered disrespectful.

He told us that when we pray, we should say, “Our Father who art in heaven.” It’s interesting that we address our father “in heaven,” because it tells us that although they’re similar, our earthly fathers still differ significantly from our heavenly fathers.

Furthermore, Jesus told us that his—and your—father is good (see Luke 18:19). Not only is he good, but he enjoys giving good gifts to his children:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).

God gives us good gifts because he values us more than anything in creation.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

In fact, you mean the world to him.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).

When the realization first hit me that God was my father, that he’s good, and that he really, really loves me, I could hardly believe it. But he does!

Join the conversation

  1. What was your experience with your father? How are/were they alike or different?
  2. How has your relationship with your earthly father (or lack thereof) affected your relationship with your heavenly father?
  3. How have you experienced God as your father?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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