Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Doubting God’s Goodness

It seems I’m at a new stage of this journey. My body is healing from the surgery and I am seeing signs in my Creighton charts that I’ve never experienced before. All seem to be good signs, but with these new observations comes a new sense of hope that I’m trying not to let get to high. As I found out last Easter, the higher you get your hopes, the harder you fall. I fell very hard at Easter when we I had convinced myself we were pregnant and then found out we weren’t...I don’t want to do that again. So while the new observations are exciting and do encourage hope that we are indeed making progress towards my healing (and conception), I’m trying to temper my “excitement” if you will. It still could be a long long path yet before us.

I wanted to reflect today on a passage from a book I’m reading “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.” It’s a bit lengthy, but worth sharing and reflecting upon I think:


Doubting God’s Goodness
(from Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, by Joanna Weaver)

I wonder how the Father feels when we assume the worst about him rather than the best. Does his heart hurt like mine when we question his love?

“You don’t love me,” my thirteen-year-old son said with the same pout he’d used that pizza-deprived afternoon many years ago. He was teasing (more or less) and he said it with the hint of a grin, but he still wanted the remark to sting. And it did.

“What do you mean?” I wanted to scream. “I clothe you. I feed you. I make sure you have cleats for football. I have a forever-ugly zipper on my lower belly where the doctor ripped me open so you could live, ungrateful child—and now I don’t love you?

But none of that counted at the moment. I had told him he couldn’t stay up and watch the NFL playoffs on a school night, and suddenly all my love had been erased.

Doubting God’s love doesn’t require tragedy. It can creep into the everyday just as insidiously, just as dangerously. It happens when our will is crossed, when our needs are ignored, or when we, like Martha [in the New Testament], are stuck doing the dirty work while everyone else is having fun.

Now, such doubt in itself is not a sin. It’s simply a thought or feeling that springs up almost involuntarily. But when we let it lodge in our heart long enough, wedged tightly like a poppy seed between our teeth, that little doubt can become a big problem. For doubt, left unchecked, can fester into unbelief. And unbelief, my fried, is not only sin—it’s deep trouble. When we no longer believe in God’s goodness, when we no longer trust in his care, we end up running away from the very Love we need to live.

Unbelief brought down Judas—he refused to trust God’s timing. Unbelief hardened Saul’s heart—he closed his eyes to the rightness of God’s ways. Unbelief kept the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years because they questioned God’s ability to lead them. And it was unbelief way back at the beginning of time that opened a doorway of darkness in a world designed for pure light.

The Garden of Eden must have been wonderful. Just think: no house to clean, no meals to cook, no clothes to iron! Eve had it made. A gorgeous hunk of a husband. Paradise for a living room. God for a playmate. But somehow, in the midst of all these blessings, the marvelous grew mundane, the remarkable ho-hum. And a nagging sense of discontentment sent Eve wandering toward the only thing God had withheld: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

What is it about us women that creates such a desperate need in us to always “know,” to always “understand”? We want an itinerary for our life, and when God doesn’t immediately produce one, we set out to write our own.

“I need to know,” we tell ourselves.

“No,” God answers softly, “you need to trust.”

But like the original first lady, we push aside his tender voice and head straight for the tree. Not the sacrificial tree of the cross, but the proud, towering beauty called Knowledge. Because, after all, knowledge is power. And power is what we secretly crave.

I believe Eve’s eventual sin began with a tiny thought—a small, itching fear that she was somehow missing something and that God didn’t have her best interest at heart. What could be wrong with something so lovely, so desirable as the forbidden fruit? Perhaps a hidden resentment had worked down into her spirit. Adam got name the animals while she got to pick papayas. Whatever the identity of the tiny irritation, it sent her looking for more.

And Satan was ready and waiting, willing to give her more than she’d ever bargained for. He filled her mind with questions. “Did God really say…?” Satan encouraged Eve to doubt God’s word and God’s goodness until the continual question marks finally obliterated her trust in God’s love.

Humanity has questioned God’s love ever since.


This passage has really spoken to me and given me much food for thought over the last several days. As the author says, it was unbelief that brought down Judas. Why? Because he refused to trust God’s timing. Hm...that sounds familiar. Seems like I am constantly fighting the temptation to question God’s timing of us becoming pregnant. I echo the thoughts the author gives Eve, “What could be wrong with something so lovely, so desirable as the forbidden fruit?” our case a baby. A baby...something that is so lovely and desirable, and yet still, withheld from us by God for reasons known only to Him, even if just for this period of time. Yes, I get it. I can see exactly how Eve’s distrust may have started. Perhaps it was hidden resentment...I have seen that too. For Eve, it might have been that Adam got the better tasks in Eden, who knows...for me, my temptation to resentment comes in the strollers at the mall, the numerous friends (many much much younger than I and perhaps just married) who announce their pregnancies, the Christmas cards with pictures of growing families (please do keep sending them!), the women who feel that their only/best option is to abort their baby...when I would gladly accept their child and welcome it into our family...these are just a few of the ways that I am tempted to resent my state in life. Again, I am never upset at these women (I love them) or the families with children (I am overjoyed for them) just causes me to be resentful of my own state in life at times.

And the thought that Eve’s eventual sin began with a tiny thought—a small, itching fear that she was somehow missing something and that God didn’t have her best interest at heart? Uh yeah...been there too. I hate to admit it, I really do...but I have at times questioned if God has my best interest at heart...if He did, why wouldn’t He give us this gift of a child? This really is sinful thinking. How could we, how could I, ever question the love of someone who gave His own life for us. What more could He have done to prove His love? As my spiritual director often says to me when I’m struggling with whether God loves me (usually brought upon by a pity party about not having a baby)…”Suzy, look to the crucifix. Look at Jesus upon the cross. What more could He do to show you His love?” Exactly, Father. Thank you. Perhaps a hidden resentment and doubt had worked down into Eve’s spirit. I know they can easily work into mine. I have to watch and guard that they don’t take root. Confession is an excellent way to prevent resentment and doubt from gaining a foothold. Frequent confession (at least once monthly) helps renew our heart and restore that intimate relationship with God that we have damaged by questioning His love.

It was interesting to me that the author asks, “What is it about us women that creates such a desperate need in us to always “know,” to always “understand”? We want an itinerary for our life, and when God doesn’t immediately produce one, we set out to write our own.” Wow! If that doesn’t sound like me, I don’t know what does. I can analyze my Creighton charts for hours looking for hopeful signs...trying to “know” and “understand” and even, if I’m honest, “predict” and “forecast”. Why is it that I seem to trust myself more than my creator at times? Why can’t I just be content to live in the Sacrament of the Present Moment, accepting each moment as it comes? The author is so right on….I so often say, “I need to know,” and God softly answers me, “No, Suzy, you need to trust.” Perhaps this week each of us can make an effort to go to Confession (or perhaps make an Examination of Conscience if we’re not Catholic), and honestly confess before God our lack of trust in the various situations of our lives...the times when we worry...we doubt...we look to ourselves for answers….and then, when we are done, perhaps we can spend a half an hour or so before His presence in Eucharistic Adoration, and allow Him to embrace us, hold us, and whisper in our hearts, “I love you. Be still. Trust.”

God bless you all this Advent season as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord.
Jesus, I trust in you.


  1. What a wonderfully touching and moving post!!!! My prayers and love are with you always!!! I will definitely be referring back to this post throughout my life.

    Jesus I trust in you!!
    St. Faustina pray for us.

  2. We all do it too! I hate it when I get like that, but we all do. Sometimes we get so focused on this world that we forget that God works in his time and not ours. Hang in there!