You say this when you wake up in the middle of the night. I ask you to lie down but you’d cry and insist for milk even if we both know you’re not hungry. For your sake and your dad’s (because his sleep will get interrupted), I give in. You nurse yourself to sleep and I try to find a comfortable position while you’re on top of me.
We close our eyes and I put my arms around you. We won’t always be sleeping this way. This stage will be over before I know it.
“Mommy, wake up! Mommy, baba na!”
You say this first thing in the morning because you’ve just woken up from a good night’s sleep. You’re ready to face the world, and you want me with you. I delay getting out of bed, but your enthusiasm early in the morning makes me smile and feel alive.
“Mommy, sit down here”.
You say this when you want me to play with you. You say it repeatedly until you get my full attention. You teach me to be present—here and now, all of me with all of you.
You say “Haniah” while you look closely at your own reflection in my eyes. I pray you will always see yourself through my eyes, because there’s not a single thing I would change about you.
“I love you so much, Mommy!” You say this and my heart flutters.
You also say “No” a lot these days and it does test my patience. But, I realize you are learning that you have the power to choose. You are discovering that you have a voice. And I want to help you find that voice, because I know you can use it to stand and fight for what is right in God’s eyes.
You say this during our pretend plays, and you seem okay at first. But then, you hesitate to leave. You look back at me and realize here with me is where you want to be.
I know it won’t always be this way. One day, the goodbye will be real.
So, let me treasure today. Let me cherish your kiss. Let me hug you for the 50th time. Let me keep you for as long as you will let me.
When we find ourselves stuck in an unfavorable and painful circumstance, we tell ourselves that God is working behind the scenes. Though there is truth in this, I noticed how this mindset could be a bit faulty…
Imagine your life is a film and you play the lead character. The movie revolves around what your character goes through. No matter how unlikely, the audience knows that the lead role almost always survives. They may find themselves crying or doubting as the film progresses, but at the back of their minds, they know. Surely, the film will have a happy ending.
In our respective lives, we automatically take the role of the lead character. It’s a no-brainer. And similar to the assumption of the audience, we, too, believe with all our hearts that everything will work out in the end. We do all in our power to make sure it does because we need our happily ever after. We expect and demand it. After all, what kind of movie would our lives be without a desirable ending.
However, I want you to consider this. What if the film is NOT about you? What if you’re not the lead role. What if you’re just one of the extras crossing the street at 20:36:08- 20:39:78 of the movie. Three seconds—that’s all there is to your part. The audience won’t care if your shirt was untucked or if one earring was missing. You’re not essential in the story. The movie would be perfectly fine without you.
Take a step back and realize that this is actually what is true for those of us who claim to believe in God and in the Scriptures. The “movie” is NOT about us. The world doesn’t revolve around us. Year 2020 is not centered on us. I am not the lead character of the film. Year 2020 is about God as it has always been thousands of years before. The reason we keep saying God is working behind the scenes is that we see OURSELVES as the main characters, convinced that life is about US.
So when things go wrong in our lives, God is technically not working behind the scenes. No. God is at the FOREFRONT fulfilling His divine plan while you and I play our small and insignificant role. Our tragedies won’t ruin the story because…we’re not the lead role! However, unlike the protagonists in movies, God is not only concerned with His part in the film. God actually cares about our small and insignificant roles. He knows us by name and wants to use us to be part of something greater. He wants us to have more lines. He wants to develop the part we play in His film. He wants us to have more screen time with Him. Even if it’s HIS story, He wants us to be involved with Him so we can be part of how the story unfolds from the beginning to the happily ever after.
My point is this: Working behind the scenes is not God’s main job because He is working at the FOREFRONT, carrying out His role as He unfolds His grand plan. He is the star. His film is THE highest-grossing movie of all time. Spoiler alert: the ending has already been determined—evil will be defeated and the righteous shall prevail. You see, His film is the real deal and it’s unstoppable. And yes, everything will work out in the end—once He says it’s the end.
Perspective is important. We must remember who we are and where we stand. Do we see our worthlessness apart from Him? Do we see how arrogant we are—demanding answers and complaining as if we’re essential and irreplaceable.
Surprisingly, God still chooses to work behind the scenes for you and me EVEN THOUGH He doesn’t have to. He shouldn’t have to care for us but doing so would defy who He is. It’s His nature to love so He attends to us. He helps us become significant and invites us to be involved in His work. It’s up to us if we want to tag along and be part of the His masterpiece.
As we go through this time of pandemic, our worries are magnified and we are blinded from the right perspective. Let’s step back to see the bigger picture. Take comfort knowing that our God is not just behind the scenes fixing our mess because He goes before us, leading the way to His promised victory.
He is not just a part of our lives; rather, we are a part of His will—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
We can trust Him because He is ABOVE ALL and He is ABLE.
“He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 62:6
“Did anything change?” or “May changes ba?” That’s the question my best friend would always ask me whenever I enter a new season in my life. She asked me this when I got a boyfriend, when I got engaged, and after I got married. My reply would always sound boring because life, by God’s grace, has been smooth sailing. I was never taken by surprise in the different transitions I had involving career and relationships.
So you can imagine how shocked I was when I found myself crying almost every day during the first 2 weeks after giving birth! There were mornings when I’d cry before Paul left for work, and there were nights I’d cry before falling asleep. It was the first time I had a completely different answer when she asked me again during her visit to see my baby. With complete facial expression and exaggerated enunciation, I answered her, “SOBRAAA! (A LOT!!!!) BIG CHANGE!”
I was really blessed to have an easy pregnancy and easy labor via normal delivery. I can do pregnancy and delivery all over again (with epidural, of course!) and I don’t even mind the ugly stretchmarks. That, my friends, was the easy part (for me, at least).
We stayed in the hospital for 2 nights. Haniah breastfed pretty much on demand. Even if I didn’t see any milk coming out, they said the baby just needed very little (a newborn’s stomach is the size of a calamansi).
When we finally got back to our place, that’s when we realized how difficult it was without the nurses around to help us! Nothing actually prepares you for parenting more than experience itself.
made it hard?
Sleepless nights – for someone who LOVES sleep, this was a major adjustment. During the first month, I had to wake up every 1-2 hours throughout the night to breastfeed. We have no helper and baby latches directly, so no one could help me with this. For the next 2 years, I bid farewell to my affair with 8hour sleep. waaah! haha
Breastfeeding – Once we were back home, my nipples started to crack. I would cringe every time because the initial latch was painful. On the 4th day, I still couldn’t see any milk coming out so she probably wasn’t getting enough. This caused her to turn yellow due to mild jaundice. This was when the stress really got to me—both physically (pain of breastfeeding and not getting enough sleep) and emotionally (getting worried and feeling guilty for not producing enough milk for my newborn who’s turning yellow because of me). Thankfully, on day 5, a friend referred a lactation consultant to unclog my milk ducts. After that massage, my milk supply increased, and so did her urine output. Everything happened in God’s perfect time.
My new schedule – My day starts and ends with breastfeeding. For the first 3 weeks, she fed every 60-90 minutes. Each feeding session lasted for ~ 20-35 minutes, sometimes even longer. After burping her and putting her to sleep, it won’t be long before her next feed. I basically couldn’t do anything else except attend to her 24/7.
Everything just felt draining when I realized this was going to be my new normal. For days, I felt stuck in this part of my life that revolved around taking care of a newborn. I love our baby but the first few weeks were really tough. They kept saying it was worth it, but while I was still in week 2, it didn’t feel so much like it was worth it. I guess the physical and emotional stress took a toll on me. And I think that’s normal. I read somewhere that things get better after every 2 weeks. Thankfully, it does. 😊
So I just did it one day at a time — zooming in on the little progress both baby and I are making. Before I knew it, we were already a month old!
I think I started to really enjoy the journey at week 4-5 onwards. By week 5-6, her eye contact was more consistent. She gazed at me frequently and started to smile. I’ve been meaning to post this when she turned 2 months old, but I had no time! So, I’m sharing this now that Niah is 3 months old! HOW TIME FLIES! I still feed her on demand but it’s now every 2-4 hours. Another blessing is that she can now sleep for 5-6 hours straight at night!
So, I want to encourage those who just gave birth. Hold on. It’s going to get much harder before it gets easier, but trust me, it will get better. I promise! 🙂 I’m only 3 months ahead and I’m still learning, but things are much better now than how they were 2 months ago! hehe
I thank God for this BIG CHANGE in our lives because this change made me a mom. My activities are still limited since I breastfeed directly and that means she has to go wherever I go, but I am very grateful to have my husband’s help. Our parents have been nothing but generous and supportive.
As I finish this entry (finally), I’m watching her sleep soundly in our bed. She used to sleep in my arms and couldn’t be put down because she would cry. Slowly, she is now learning to sleep on her crib and on our bed. When she’s cranky and nothing seems to appease her, letting her latch on to my breasts never fails to work. At this stage, I’m learning to respond to her needs by offering her what God has already equipped in me. It’s amazing how the human body works and how moms are designed to have an intimate relationship with her baby through breastfeeding, laying him/her close to the chest, having skin-to-skin contact, singing to him/her…
My role as a mom will not always be like this. The time will come when she will no longer need me to breastfeed her, when she will no longer need to be soothed and rocked, when she will no longer wear diapers, when she will no longer need me to cut her nails, when she will no longer want to be carried, when she will no longer need my 100% attention. Her needs will change as she grows, and I will have to learn to adjust so I can respond to her and care for her the right way. So while I’m at this stage where my back always hurts from feeding her and carrying her, where my relationship with my breasts seem complicated due to milk blisters or engorgement, where my productivity to do other things has slowed down 65%, where my body doesn’t get taken care of because I sometimes choose sleep over hygiene (LOL)…while I’m at this stage, I will treasure every moment, because it won’t last.
At first, it was comforting to know that the difficult days won’t last, but as weeks turned into months, I realize that I’d rather Time stop so that perfect moments could last forever. But as they say, time waits for no man. I can only hope to capture as many perfect moments as I can in my heart. Mere snapshots won’t do justice, but when I’m old and gray, they would have to be enough as I relive the past and remember how our lives became much more beautiful when we met our daughter.
I’m down to less than 2 weeks until I pop! Actually, Haniah can come out anytime now since I’m already on my 38th week! Paul and I are a pretty laid back and chill couple, but I know we’re both excited to discover what parenthood will be like. Many of our married friends with children have already told us how everything will change—our daily routine, our priorities, and our dynamics at home. It’s a lot to take in, but we are assured that He who is faithful will continue to walk with us in this next chapter.
We’ve been having late night talks about what we should do differently once Niah arrives and how we should always be at our best. I remember in one of those nights, Paul jokingly asked me, “You will love me more, right?” Then he added on a more serious note, “We should love each other more, even more than Niah.” And I agree.
I will always love my husband more, but it will never be a matter of comparison. I believe it’s a matter of honoring God’s design for marriage and fulfilling one’s vow. Marriage is supposed to be an unbreakable bond formed when two individuals make a committed decision to be each other’s for life. I made a vow before God that I will choose him every day—“loving him with a love that knows no bounds, a love that knows no ends”. My loyalty will always be with Paul. We’d be getting ahead of ourselves when we think about how Niah will one day have her own family, God-willing. But that’s reality and I embrace it with joy. I know that the best gift we can give Niah is the security of being loved by parents who are first committed to a Christ-centered marriage. When our marriage is solidified in Jesus, then and only then are we able to love this little human the right way without compromising our relationship.
So yes, my husband, you will always be my greatest blessing. In this married journey, I know there will be days when you won’t feel that way. I know in the months to come, you might only get what’s left of me after I’ve given my best to Niah. I know I will lose my patience and might act unkindly towards you when I lack sleep. I apologize in advance (hehe). Please try to remember that next to God, you are and will always be my most treasured answered prayer. I hope and pray that my words and actions will reflect this.
The past 9 months went by so quickly! Here are some photos we can always look back to.
The night I told him I was pregnant!
Our first visit to my OB-GYN
The evening we told our parents
Our gender reveal to our family
Some of our friends throwing us a gender reveal party/baby shower
Paul squeezed in one last travel to Sapporo for our 2nd year anniversary ❤️
Thank you for loving me just as much even if I’m huge and sweaty with angry stretchmarks!
Hon, I’m dedicating this post to you and being extra sweet so that when the grumpy me decides to come out, this should make up for it. Hahaha kidding! I’m writing this to remind myself of how you deserve my best… because you’re simply the best!
Reading stories is an important activity we incorporate during speech therapy to increase our student’s vocabulary, improve their comprehension, and teach them social skills. Last 2017, I wanted to create a simple storybook that could help my students, so I did but only in my head. I wasn’t seriously considering on self-publishing. Then I remembered my sister could draw (haha) so I asked her to illustrate for me just for fun. She did, but she didn’t get the chance to finish it.
Fast forward a year later, I saw one of my schoolmates on Facebook doing illustration works. I randomly messaged her to ask if she was interested in working with me on a project. To my surprise, she was!
This was an entry in my prayer journal before we actually met.
(I save my prayer journal as draft messages in my email because I don’t like writing them on notebooks, and also because my penmanship is really bad!haha)
And I guess you could say the rest is history! It’s been almost a year since I self-published When My Friend Wins. By God’s grace, we’ve sold about 3,600 copies. It doesn’t sound a lot, but to have come this far and to have done it without any publisher is something I never would have thought was possible. To have been given this opportunity to help 3,600 families by providing a material parents can use to teach their children empathy—this is more than what I have prayed for!
Truly, no dream is too big nor insignificant when placed in the capable hands of our Almighty Father.
One thing I’ve learned in all this is:
When God plants a desire in your heart, allow Him to evaluate, correct, and align your motives with His purpose. It may take time but once refined, He will surely provide you the courage and the capability to set out what He has called you to do. The goal you want to accomplish will slowly transform into something deeper, something grander. It grows into a passion of wanting to be used by the Refiner. I guess that’s always the case when you surrender your desires to God.
I’ll say it again: All this is one hundred percentall God. Thank You!
In 2 months’ time, I am due to give birth to our first daughter. Just saying it still sounds surreal! I am excited to finally meet the little human inside me. I am so curious to see what she looks like. I am eager to hold her and hear her voice.
As I anticipate this inevitable new chapter, I think about the season that I must bid goodbye to. I have mixed emotions that are hard to put into words. It’s not sadness. I have this mental countdown telling me that I am running out of time. What I feel now is not the fear of beginning a new journey. I worry that I won’t be able to end this season strongly.
Right now, I’m at this point where I can be the wife that gives 100% attention to my husband without having to breastfeed or change diapers. Am I giving him my attention? I can still go out with family and friends and enjoy the time spent together without constantly checking on my newborn baby. Am I making time for them? I still have 4-6 weeks to meet my students for speech therapy before I go on maternity leave (for who knows how long). Am I still making a difference? I have projects that I want to finish before June. Will I have enough time? I can meet people to have intimate conversations about life without feeling haggard or tired. Am I available…or should we just schedule it 7 months from now?
I have about 65 days left before I take on the role of being a mother. I know I should be busy preparing for that, and I have been reading up on several books on parenting, breastfeeding, teaching infants to sleep etc. etc. etc.!
In all those books, however, only one gave me the best advice. It was during my Bible-reading several weeks ago that I found myself reflecting on this passage written by the apostle Paul. He said in 2 Timothy 4: 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He wrote this knowing his death was imminent and he was challenging Timothy to remain faithful in the christian walk.
It must sound absurd that my perspective focuses on the end when I am literally expecting our baby to arrive in 2 months! Our life’s race comes in different stages and I’m trying to view my time on earth in shorter segments—maybe in phases based on my current roles and responsibilities. I believe it helps when we think this way because we wouldn’t be planning too far ahead, all the while assuming that we have unlimited time on earth.
We’ve all heard of stories where someone unexpectedly departs this world—a newborn baby, a father, a mother, a young student, a grandparent, an aunt, a teacher, a security guard, a pastor, a friend—leaving loved ones in so much pain. Recently, I am learning to live life with the end in mind, reminding myself that the end is not when I’m 80 years old. The end could mean next week, or next month, or next year. Paul’s words reminded me to focus my time and my energy on completing the race God has called me to run TODAY.
It applies to whatever stage we are in. Whether we’re studying, working, looking for better job opportunities, waiting for the right person to come along, preparing for marriage, expecting children, raising a family, coping with sickness, experiencing loss… the list goes on and on. Many times, we envision the next chapter to be better. We plan and pray to make sure it is. But in doing so, we put less emphasis on where we are and focus instead on where we want to go. The next chapter won’t be as exciting if there was no grand season finale. So, here’s what I think. Let’s embrace the season where we are in and be all in. This has been my prayer:
“Father, help me to finish this season of my life well.”
Before I give birth to my daughter, I want to be able to say with confidence that I have completed the mission assigned to me, that I have been faithful with the work and the people He has entrusted me. Then and only then can I look forward with a steady heart knowing I have done my best, I have kept the faith, and I have finished the first 27 years of my life well.
“I will live this day as if it is my last. And if it is not, I shall fall to my knees and give thanks.” -Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman In The World
I’ve read Genesis a couple of times and I admit that it hasn’t always been meaningful. This year, I decided to read it more meditatively so I can reflect and dig for personal insights. So far, I am AMAZED at how Genesis has come alive and how it is still so relevant to my spiritual growth. Truly, no book from the Living Word is too dull or boring when the Holy Spirit speaks!
Ever since I was in a relationship with my then boyfriend now fiance, marriage has always been our prayer and our end goal in mind. We’ve read and are still reading some relationship books that have been extremely helpful (eg: You and Me Forever:Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan). But I realized, GENESIS is actually filled with so many marriage truths and examples of real life ancient couples who struggled with biblical gender roles. I got so excited after reading that I wanted to write it down so I won’t forget. So this is for my future married self.
*Note to future self: HI ROBYN, IF YOU’RE READING THIS AGAIN, YOU MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG… READ AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL YOU FIND THE HUMILITY TO APOLOGIZE -from the 24 year old Robyn hahaha
This account is from Genesis 3 and 16. (3:16, sounds familiar! easy to remember haha)
Eve listened to the serpent; followed him; told Adam; and Adam FOLLOWED HER.
Sarai (got impatient, listened to a voice that clearly wasn’t God’s), told Abraham to sleep with her maid, and Abraham FOLLOWED HER.
So, who’s to blame? Is it the wife or the husband for following the? I guess both.
There are 3 things I learned from these accounts. Being a woman, I wanted to reflect on how I can be a better wife by learning from (the mistakes of) Eve and Sarai.
God spoke to HIM
God told ADAM and clearly commanded him what he must not do (Gen. 2:16-17). God promised ABRAHAM that he will have a son (Gen. 15:4-5)
There are times when God may appear to be silent to the wives or maybe they were just NOT listening. God always speaks and I realized that He tends to speak to the husband. Many times God chooses to speak to the wife THROUGH THE HUSBAND. In both stories, the wives did not listen to their husbands and in effect, they did not listen to God. IF the wives sought God, I believe they would have heard Him personally, and they would have heard Him also through their husbands. (got it, Robyn? If your husband doesn’t make sense, seek God first and see if it makes sense after
2. SHE spoke to him
I believe wives always act in love, but there are times when their decisions are influenced by their need to control the situation. I think women in general tend to be importunate–persistent, especially to the point of annoyance or intrusion (‘makulit’ as Paul would call me)–impulsive, and impatient. There are times when I find myself giving suggestions but really, they’re just quick fixes. I’m quite reactive to circumstances and I want fast responses. Like when I’m driving and this car from far behind is about to overtake me by counter-flowing, I immediately let down my window and lift up my ready-made sign that says “COUNTER FLOW”. However, when Paul’s the driver he remains cool. And since he knows me too well, he grabs my hand just in time before I could even beep the car horn. ugh. sayang. haha
So yeah, I agree. Women/wives like Eve and Sarai may think they are in control when they’re really not. Most often it’s just emotions and worries that actually take over their decision-making process.
And this is where I realized how much power wives really have. They have the ability to influence their husbands for the good (or the not-so-good) because husbands listen to their wives. Whether they like it or not, whether they’re aware or not, they sometimes end up listening and agreeing to the voice of their mate. The question is, when I become a wife, would my speech to my husband reflect God’s message? I would hate to reflect Satan and be his tool! (Robyn, don’t cause your husband to sin!)
3. HE listened to HER
Now this is the hard part. Adam and Abraham, why on earth did you listen to your wives?? haha! Paul, don’t listen to me when I’m wrong (which is rarely the case HAHA). But seriously speaking, I get it. Husbands should only listen to God. Period. Having them listen to any other voice would most probably lead to chaos. haha If the husbands are so close with God and if they are so used to hearing God’s voice, they would then have the wisdom to discern whether their wives’ suggestions are actually from God.
I pray that my future husband would be so in tune with God that he would know when NOT to listen to me when I am wrong. And I pray that I would always seek God first so I can reflect His heart in my words and deeds. so help us God!
***and we all know what happened after Adam listened to Eve and Abraham listened to Sarai. Oh my. The consequences of their actions are still being experienced today!
When you feel discriminated because I do not approve of same-sex marriage, please try to understand it’s not because I view you as less deserving of love. NO! On the contrary, I want you to experience the BEST KIND of love there is in this world!
When you feel condemned because I view the act of being in an intimate and sexual relationship with the same sex to be wrong, please don’t let that stop us from being friends, because I am NOT condemning YOU. It’s just that my morals find this wrong, in the same way that I find the practice of premarital sex between man and woman wrong. I know you see many flaws in my life as well. My sins are plain to you. You know how I can get impatient when I’m driving. You know how easily I can be proud. You know how prone I am to spreading gossip. I am no better. I am a sinner as much as you are. Please understand that the only reason I pointed out your wrong is because like a friend, I also want you to point out whatever it is that I am doing wrong, especially when I am not aware of it.
When I come across as someone “holier than thou”, please remind me that I too am a sinner.
If I have not been a listening ear to you and instead have chosen to be a constant reminder of our differences, I ask for your forgiveness.
When the voice of my brothers and sisters deafen you with poor choice of words and hurtful stares, please forgive them. That is not right. When all they see YOU for is your gender rather than the person that you are, I apologize. That breaks my heart. You are more than your gender, in the same way that I am more than my gender. A sexual preference/orientation does not and should not determine one’s heart, one’s character, one’s ability to help people, and one’s love for others. I am saddened when your gender is the only thing that people notice.
Lastly, I ask for your heart to be bigger than mine. Because right now, you will not understand me. What I view as wrong, you view as right. And that’s okay. For now. Let’s end it here. And if you believe in God, can we pray? That God will show us the way to live. That He will be the one to convict us of our wrongs. Because in the end, we are only accountable to Him. But if you don’t believe in God, then I ask of you to respect my faith, the same way I will respect your decision. The only reason why I am adamant and passionate about my belief is because this is how I understand life to be. This is how I understand LOVE to be – as how my Jesus showed it being our Just Judge and Merciful Savior. I want to make my Jesus happy. This is how I find purpose and meaning.
But again, if we cannot see eye to eye on this matter, let’s agree to disagree on it as friends. I will love you and I ask that you love me still. We can build a friendship that is not confined by our differences, but a friendship that is motivated by LOVE. This is all I ask of you. I know it’s hard. I know you will doubt the genuineness of my affection for you simply because we do not agree on this one thing that you hold dear. But I promise you, I will love you. Not only because you are worth loving, but mainly because I am a recipient of PERFECT LOVE– one that I can never deserve. I too, like you, fall short in many ways, but God’s love saved me, transformed me, and compelled me to love.
So…until the day comes when we can see things from the same perspective, let’s be friends. Like what you guys say, let’s let “LOVE” WIN… and by “LOVE” I mean TRUE LOVE…the all-encompassing love that compels us to live NOT just for humanity, but for something BIGGER, something GREATER…May we all find that LOVE.
Last September 26, I was asked to share a short message along with other volunteers, doctors, and parents at the Philippine General Hospital for an event: CANcer BEAT IT.
I was told that the audience would be cancer survivors, cancer patients, caregivers, doctors, donors, volunteers, and the medical staff. I planned on sharing something that would uplift them, reminding them that God is good. But knowing that I had to say this to children wearing hats to hide their hair loss,
young ones with an arm/leg amputated because of bone cancer, energetic kids with an eye patch (eye cancer), parents sitting beside their only child suffering from a terminal illness… I had to have a stronger defense to backup the claim that “God is good”. I don’t think they needed it because their faith was already established, but I needed it. God knows I needed it.
Thinking about what to share really made me internalize God’s goodness.
I know it’s an old topic, but after hearing and seeing reasons that question God’s goodness, I desperately needed an answer that I could hold on to, an explanation other than the usual “Just have faith. God is good”. I’m not saying that’s not enough, because in essence, that pretty much sums it up. But I just needed something more — perhaps a step-by-step rundown of how to arrive at the conclusion that God IS good — to convince my mind that there is an answer to the unending taunts and questions the world throws nowadays to those who believe in God. Because the truth is, whether I like it or not, most of these questions make sense.
I’ve recently heard people dismiss the Bible as a fictional novel because they cannot accept their idea of a good God to be one and the same with the God who commanded Noah to build an ark because He was going to destroy the rest of the world, or the God who told Lot to escape because He was about to throw burning sulfur to Sodom and Gomorrah. To them, the God of the Bible was a “power-tripping” God. Unacceptable. Thus, they chose to believe in a God outside of the Bible that is “more” good — a God that falls under their definition of what is good.
On the other hand, I was able to converse with a mother whose 6-month-old baby was diagnosed with leukemia. She, along with many caregivers of cancer patients, still believes that God is good. I honestly think that one of the admirable traits of Filipinos is their strong faith in God. A friend once said that Filipinos in general are visual and emotional people; their faith is strengthened by what they see and feel. I agree. We, however, lack in the aspect of faith being intellectual.
I am not a Bible expert and I’m not as smart as I want to be, but I had to begin somewhere, so this is my starting point: Man is not good (duh), and can never be completely totally purely good. Therefore, man cannot define what is truly good. Period.
Two things I realized about God’s goodness:
1. We will never understand it with our human minds, at least not yet while we’re still here on earth.
Quick example: Can the framework of a pig’s mind understand the goodness of a Man — the complexity of his thoughts and motives, his feelings and convictions? For a pig to try to understand a Man within his piggy brain is impossible. For a pig, Man can be viewed as loving because Man feeds them and cares for them. For another pig, Man can be viewed as wicked for killing pigs for food. A pig can never understand the depths and the core of Man because his viewpoint and perspective will always be limited and confined to that of a pig’s. It can only make inferences from observing a Man, interpreting all his actions in the level of a pig’s mind. Unless the pig can one day become Man and experience the life of Man will it be able to understand who and what a Man really is. So, if pigs can suddenly talk and I asked them if Mother Teresa (not a vegetarian) was good, I think they’d say NO. Why? Because obviously, their idea of “good” is confined to what their minds can accept and conceive as good — something that doesn’t inflict pain or suffering.
Same goes with humans who try to comprehend God’s goodness according to their own understanding. No matter how hard we try to understand God based from observations and evidences, it will never be enough because the moment we try to comprehend God and subject Him to our human interpretation, God becomes limited. God is now confined to our intellect and logic. Imperfection is what makes humans human. A flawed and finite mind simply isn’t equipped to grasp on its own the truth and identity of an infinite sovereign God. Man’s concept of love and of justice is only as good as what we can reconcile with our logic and emotions. God’s concept of love and justice can never be logical in our eyes.
How can a good God allow innocent lives to suffer and die? Unacceptable!
But didn’t God predestined His beloved and holy Son to suffer and die for worthless criminals? Doesn’t this sound cruel and illogical as well? God’s goodness doesn’t do away with pain and suffering. On the contrary, God’s goodness becomes evident in pain, suffering, and even death.
So, the starting point is this : Man is not good, but God is good.
With that as our foundation, we can begin to (but not completely) unravel the illogical, unreasonable, and ridiculous goodness of God as we experience Him and learn more about Him from His Word. Because if you come to think of it, God’s goodness goes beyond our sanity.
2. It’s not bounded by TIME.
No pain and suffering goes unnoticed by our Father. He knows pain. He felt this when He watched them put Jesus on the cross. Why He allows us to experience pain is a question only He can answer. But we should take comfort knowing that there is an answer. And His reasons are and will always be perfect! BUT, His reasons are not bounded by time. His timetable is eternity. On that ground, His purposes behind everything will make sense once we reach eternity. Man’s understanding of what is good is bounded by time because we are beings stuck in this temporal world. Man only considers something as good if it is good NOW. Someone suffering from a terminal illness isn’t good. Physical pain is not good. Being broken and emotionally crushed is not good. Famines, wars, corruption, injustices, murder, persecution- none of these are good…now. Is death good? No.
But in the eyes of an immortal eternal all-knowing God, “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15) Death is good. Why? Because it is our entrance to our permanent and eternal dwelling place where we will be able to experience and comprehend in its totality the goodness of our almighty God.
Unless we accept and internalize that we are eternal beings momentarily stationed here on earth, we won’t be able to make sense of God’s goodness and His promise of hope in our final destination.
I’m sure there are more philosophical and theological explanations on this topic, but this is as far as I was able to go. Haha! And to be honest, this was all I needed. I’ve always known that God is good; I never doubted that truth. But I just personally needed to go through the process of purposely asking myself these questions and eventually arriving at that same conclusion.
As I was closing my sharing at the event, I asked them (in Tagalog), “Do you believe God loves you?” “OO! (YES!)”, they responded. I then added, “Do you believe that our God is good?” A resounding “OO! (YES!)” followed. Holding back tears, I realized that THEY were the speakers, and I was the audience. They already knew the answer. I knew it too, but I needed to hear it from them. And I did. What a blessing!!!