This week’s devotion is written by Emily, a student at Pepperdine University. This devotion was offered by one of our church staff members yesterday at our all-staff meeting. It came to us through an extended family member who is Emily’s teacher.
Yesterday was the one-month mark. Almost exactly a month ago I was trapped in a shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill. One week later, I found out my home burned down in the Woolsey Fire. I lost my shelter and my sense of safety all in the course of one week. However, through it all, one phrase has continued to replay in my mind over and over again: God is still good.
I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about what it means that God is good. Over the course of the last month, my view of God’s goodness has been deeply challenged. Before Borderline, I believed that God was good because my life was good. This was not something I had ever admitted and it was a view I would have surely denied if someone accused me of that way of thinking. But as I reflect, I realize that it is true. I believed God was good because my life was good.
Before Borderline I had never experienced anything truly earth-shattering. I had had minor hardships such as drama between friends or difficult classes, and I have struggled with depression for most of my life; but before Borderline, I had never had a single event (or in my case, 2 events) that absolutely wrecked my world. I was able to see God as good and just and comforting and sovereign because those aspects of God had never been challenged in my life. Things had always been good. I had always seen justice. I had always had comfort. And because of that, I had always trusted that God was in control.
Well, in the span of one week my sense of safety and my sense of comfort were completely taken away and I no longer saw God as any of those things. I was angry. I was angry at God and I was angry at the world. Why was I having to go through all of these tragedies? Even one would have been hard enough, but two? The most repeated verse in my mind in the first days after the fire was “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). I felt forsaken, broken, and alone. I didn’t understand how He could let me go through such hardships. However, those feelings did not change the truth: God is still good.
God is good even when my life is not. At my high school graduation, my friend Abbey Johnson gave a beautiful speech where she said something along the lines of “I always used to hear people say that God has a plan for my life. I always thought that His plan was to make me happy in the end. But how selfish is that? God doesn’t have a plan for my life. He has a plan for the world and I am lucky enough to fit into that plan.” Sadly, there are terrible things happening in the world every day. Just because something bad recently happened to me does not change the fact that God has always been good and He will always be good. It is so incredibly selfish of me to think that just because I, one person out of the seven and a half billion people on this earth, had to face something challenging, God is no longer good.
Instead of questioning God’s goodness, I began looking for evidence of his goodness in the world around me. I made it out of Borderline safely with no physical injuries. God is good. The day after Borderline I received almost 200 texts/calls from people checking in on me and telling me how loved I was. God is good. The two most sentimental items I own made it out of the fire. God is good. I had nine different people offer to let me live with them after the fire. God is good. I go to a University that truly cares about its students and has gone above and beyond to care for the 70+ students who have lost their homes. God is good. Once I started looking, I had a hard time not finding evidence of God’s goodness in every situation I’ve been through.
This is not to say that things have been easy or that I am not still struggling. Trauma recovery sucks, and replacing everything you own is extremely overwhelming. However, in the midst of all of that I stand firm on the belief that God is still good and that He has a plan. I can’t necessarily see it right now, but I know that one day He is going to use my story to help others and to glorify Himself in some pretty remarkable ways.