Feb 21, 2020

Is God Still Good?

God is good.

God is faithful.

Anyone who has been in church any length of time will have inevitably heard these phrases, and if you’re a preacher’s kid (PK) there’s no doubt that you’ve heard them repeatedly. But, there is a vast difference between hearing something and knowing it in your head, to hearing it and knowing it to be true with every fiber of your being. The whole head vs. heart thing.

This was something I’ve struggled a lot with as a PK. I was saved when I was 6 years old after listening to not only my dad but also my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Carpenter, talk about how we were all sinners and in need of God’s forgiveness. I knew a lot in my head, but getting it to my heart was another story. For many years, I struggled with separating God and the church from my dad’s job. The church is what allowed us to pay bills and buy groceries, but it was also a way of life for us since we lived on church property, were at church whenever the doors were open, and even were there when the doors were closed! This was the truth I lived daily, but I also knew the “church” was the body of Christ.

Knowing the church is the body of Christ was where I struggled the most, and where I have carried the most emotional and spiritual baggage. People would be nice and encouraging to me, but then I would see how they would treat my parents, especially my dad. My dad was my example in how to be faithful to the Lord in his service to the church, and in his strong dedication to preaching the Word without compromise. But the church would criticize his sermons and withhold his paycheck because it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. They’d berate and belittle him in business meetings because they weren’t getting their way. They’d watch our house to see when we went to bed. But oh, how nice those same people would be to me. Maybe I should be thankful they didn’t take their feeling toward my dad out on me, but maybe they did more damage by not doing so because then it exposed their hypocrisy to me.

Unknowingly, this affected me at a deep level as I began to subconsciously doubt what everyone said, and even more, I began to really doubt God. When I would hear that God was faithful and good – I didn’t believe it. Oh, maybe I’d agree with it and know in my head that it was true because the Bible said it. I yearned to know it was true like I know my own name, to know it with every fiber of my being. But the doubts always seemed to be lingering in the shadows. Although I had a wonderful experience in college and had a wonderful church and college group, there was a period of time post-college that I really struggled with my faith. I struggled with so many feelings toward the church and toward God Himself, but my feelings mainly were rooted in whether I believed in His faithfulness and His goodness. I had a hard time believing in my heart that He was good and faithful while I watched how my parents were treated. I’d see their faithfulness, but I’d also see their tears and hurt, and I just could not reconcile it all. For several years, I didn’t really care if I went to church, yet I did because it was a habit. I didn’t open my Bible except on Sundays and didn’t engage in prayer very often. My prayers felt hollow and I wondered if I was wasting my time. It felt like God had walked away from me, although I would realize later that I was the one who had walked away.

I was still struggling when my grandfather passed away several years later in the winter of 2010. He was one of the wisest and godly men I have ever known, aside from my dad. I have such fond memories of him sitting in his recliner with his glasses and reading lamp on, and his Bible spread out in his lap as he prepared for the next Sunday School lesson. He was unwavering in his relationship with the Lord, and he wasn’t shy in telling you about it either! His funeral was a dedication to the love he had for his Savior, and I knew that I was ready to deal with things in my heart. I was weary from the doubts and from the strain of having walked away from the Lord, and my impending journey into motherhood and the kind of example I would be to our children began to weigh on my heart.

Over the next several years I slowly began to return to the Lord and to church, although it wasn’t without trepidation and some uncertainty. Then, in 2013, we decided to move to be closer to my family – 600 miles from the life we had made. While I was happy to head “home”, I was sad to leave and felt the weight of yet another move. Yet another “goodbye” to have to endure. We visited many churches in our new area, and with each one I felt myself sitting there unable to escape the questioning in my heart. “They’re nice to us, but how do they treat their pastor? How do they treat his family?” I still wrestled with this question as we found our church home and I did my best to try and put those thoughts aside. As I entered the sanctuary on Sunday morning, I once again felt my cynicism and hurt rear its head. But just as quickly, I felt the Lord tell me “this isn’t what I intended from the church, and one day I will put it right. Trust me.”

At that moment, I could breathe. I felt free from those chains of doubt and questioning. For the next few years, the Lord patiently and repeatedly made sure I knew that He IS good and He IS faithful. We joined a Life Group where I have truly experienced what it means to be brothers and sisters in the Lord. I have found a sisterhood in our women’s Bible Study and experienced how church family is supposed to be. They have come to mean to the world to me, and have played a big part of the healing that I have found.

But then, last September, life threw a curveball I didn’t see coming…

For nearly 35 years I was a preacher’s kid, and some might say I will forever be one. To be honest, this has been part of the adjustment that comes when your dad is no longer in formal ministry, and so much of your identity has always been “I’m a preacher’s kid.” The circumstances around my dad no longer being in formal ministry were painful and ridiculously unfair, but as painful as it was for me, I know it was worse for them.

One day I had gone over help my parents pack up in preparation of their move, and I had (mostly) held it together when they told me they’d be moving 6 hours away.  It only lasted until I got in the car to go home. For the last nearly 7 years, they’d been only 90 miles away. We spent countless birthdays, holidays, and special events together. We would have spontaneous weeknight dinners or Saturday morning breakfasts at a Cracker Barrel halfway between us. When my husband had to travel for work, I knew they were only a short distance away. My dad would sometimes stop by our house when he was running church errands or making hospital visits. No longer would that be the case. As I drove that hour and a half home, I didn’t even get out of the city limits before the tears would no longer be contained. All at once, every one of those old feelings came back in an overwhelming flood that took me by surprise. I truly thought I had put them to rest for good. The more I cried and the more I drove, the angrier I became. I was angry at the church that caused this, angry at the “church” in general, and angry with God. Why God? Why? I angrily turned the radio off and pounded my fist on the steering wheel. My heart was broken and it certainly didn’t feel like God was good or faithful in that moment. The strength of all of these emotions caught me off guard and I wrestled with them all weekend, and, on top of it all, I felt guilty at being so angry at God.

When Sunday came, I remember telling my husband that I didn’t want to go to church, and that I didn’t care if I ever stepped foot in a church again. Oh, but God! God had known all this ahead of time and weeks before, I had committed myself to be there that whole morning as part of my volunteering with the women’s ministry. I went to Life Group but wished I was somewhere, anywhere, else. I went to service and was angry to find that the songs, all of them, had to do with God’s goodness and faithfulness.  “All my life You have been faithful, and all my life You have been so so good.”  Yeah, not a coincidence. I stood in the back row with tears rolling down my cheeks, not able to sing, and I whispered: “I can’t say this right now God.”

From that afternoon on, and throughout the next few weeks, everywhere I turned I was bombarded- from the radio, to short Instagram clips, to posts on Facebook – everything dealing with anger at God, His goodness, and His faithfulness. I’ve always joked that God may need to give me a flashing neon sign sometimes, and while this wasn’t neon, it was certainly impossible to miss. I realized how selfish I had been and how I had basically been throwing a fit because I wasn’t getting MY way. I got on my knees and poured out my heart and asked for forgiveness for my selfishness, my doubt, and my anger.  He so lovingly and tenderly once again reminded me over and over again of His presence. He reminded me how He had been faithful, never once left me since the day I gave my life to Him as a little 6-year-old girl. He reminded me of His everlasting goodness. His goodness and faithfulness would never change, no matter the circumstances, or the things people say or do to me.

One of the songs that I really came to love during this time was “Why, God?” by Austin French:

Why God
Do we feel so alone?
Every single day
Fighting through the pain
Hoping there is hope

I don’t understand
But I understand

Why God I need You
Is Why God I run to Your arms
Over and over again
It’s why God I cling to Your love
And hold on for dear life
And I find You are right by my side

Give me a faith stronger than I have
I need to know when it hurts this bad
That You hold my heart when it breaks
And I’m not alone in this place

After all the years of struggles and doubts, I can say “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.” – Psalm 13:5-6

More importantly than saying that verse, I KNOW it in my heart….with every fiber of my being. Thank you, Lord!

By <a href="https://pastorskids.org/author/rhyan-sikorski/" target="_self">Rhyan Sikorski</a>

By Rhyan Sikorski

Rhyan Sikorski has been a pastor’s kid nearly all of her life. She’s been married to her husband, Jeff, an Aerospace Engineer, for over 11 years. A former Dental Hygienist, Rhyan now stays at home and homeschools their 3 kids. They currently live north of Dallas, Texas and are active in their church home, Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church. Rhyan serves in the Children’s Ministry, is a member of the Women’s Ministry Leadership Team, and also started a homeschool ministry within the church. She loves spending time with family and friends, a good cup of hot coffee, the Dallas Cowboys, and watching Hallmark Movies. Her desire is for all pastor’s families, and especially pastors kid’s, to know they are never walking the ministry journey alone