Is God Still Good When Life Hurts?

by Denise Roberts

Dad was diagnosed with cognitive decline five or so years before his death. Although the doctors never put a name to it, the reality was Alzheimer’s disease. We had seen the signs.

An engineer by trade, he could no longer troubleshoot the systems he helped design and install. The man, who in my opinion, could do anything, and who had practically rebuilt an old home as a hobby, was unable to install an electrical outlet.

Naturally quiet, he became more withdrawn from conversations.

Anyone who has traveled this path with a loved one knows how difficult it is to witness your loved one fade away.

When the neurologist confirmed what we suspected, my prayers began in earnest. For healing, yes. But really for more.

For the Lord to protect my dad’s mind from the ravages of the disease.

For dad to know us.

For dad to know he was known and loved.

For my mom’s ability to be his caregiver.

My most fervent prayer was for the Lord to protect the love that my parents shared in marriage for 55 plus years because Alzheimer’s can cause ordinarily wonderfully kind people to become mean, suspicious, and delusional.

April 2, 2016 dawned bright and beautiful. Mom and Dad lived in a small town in Arkansas, and on this day they decided they needed to run some errands. They spent a great day together. Dad was engaged—a good mental clarity day for him. He even drove his beloved white suburban. That evening, complaining of a headache after dinner, dad reclined in his chair for the last time. The paramedics called his time of death around 11 p.m. from an apparent brain aneurysm.

As family and friends gathered in support of Mom and she shared how good their last day was together, my prayers reverberated in my heart. In the timing of dad’s death, God, in His goodness, had answered them. There was grief and heartache in those answers. In that moment, life hurt.

I know this idea travels a tricky theological road. Did God cause the aneurysm? I don’t believe so. Any more than I believe God causes some to suffer injury or illness or tragedy.

When we encounter those tough times, the hurt-filled times, a natural question is to ask, God, do You care? Are You still good?

Whenever I encounter a hard question about God’s goodness, I am drawn to the conversation between God and Abraham more than 2000 years ago. They stood together overlooking a city so wretched that the only path was destruction. Yet Abraham struggled with this. His nephew and family lived in this city. Destruction of the city meant destruction of his nephew. At the end of the conversation, Abraham was satisfied in his heart that, regardless of the outcome, God was still good (read God Are You Good?). I feel certain Abraham prayed for Lot to be spared. But there is no record of Abraham knowing that he was. I imagine Abraham’s heart must have been hurting.

Yet, his trust in God’s goodness did not waver even in the midst of heartache. He continued to live in obedience to the Lord. Going where he was told to go, staying when he was told to stay, offering his son when instructed. The only reason I believe Abraham could do that is because he had already determined that God was ultimately good.

I believe this about my dad’s death.

God did not spare our family of traversing the path of Alzheimer’s. But in God’s goodness, my dad maintained most of his independence.

In God’s goodness, when dad would answer the phone and hear my voice he would always say “Hi ya Nisey!” He never wavered in knowing his family.

In God’s goodness, Dad knew the love of his friends in his small community. One friend in particular, Don, often came over to take Dad to lunch. Dad thought the world of Don. He knew the fellowship and friendship of his weekly men’s breakfast and the standing Friday evening dinner group. When he was at home, he always knew where he was and how to get to the places he needed to go.

In His goodness, the Lord gave Mom and Dad an excellent day together. Her last memories are of love, laughter, and companionship. For this I am most grateful.

My mom was not ready to be a widow. My sister and I were not ready to lose our dad. It seems, even at the age of 80, that he left us too young.

The heartache was, and is, there. Bigger than the heartache, though, is the peace and assurance that comes with being able to say, Yes, God is still good even when life hurts.


© Copyright 2017 by Denise Roberts


Denise Roberts loves a good cup of coffee with friends, snuggles from her chocolate lab, doing life with her husband, being a mom to grown-up kids, and most of all, encouraging others to connect with the life-giving and life-sustaining Word of God in the messy places of our lives. Connect with Denise at and on Facebook at Denise Roberts – Living Holy.



This post is a part of our Delighting in God’s Goodness series. Check out our other posts for more ways to delight in who God is and what He does:

  1. Delighting in God’s Goodness: A New Series
  2. Delighting in God’s Constant Presence
  3. Delighting in God’s Unsurpassable Gift by Del Bates
  4. Delighting in God’s Training by Lauren Craft
  5. Delighting in God’s “Eye”
  6. When Your Birthday Wish Comes True

the character of God, adversity, sorrow, hope, Is God Still Good When Life Hurts?, Denise Roberts

Comments (6)

  • anon

    Denise, thanks for sharing about your dad. Indeed, God is a good God, even when life hurts.
    Blessings of grace and peace to you!

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Beckie,
    Thank you for stopping by! I hope you have a blessed day!

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    What a beautiful piece about your dad, Denise!  And about God's grace and the comfort of having strong faith.  It's such a blessing to see beyond the pain of losing a loved one and to the blessings that were in and around your dad in his life and in his death.  I know you have helped others with this post.  Your dad was a special man and I always thought of him as my "2nd dad" and I felt like he treated me like a me what I needed whether is was praise, support or constructive criticism.  

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    Denise, Sorry for your loss.  Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your dad's life. God is still God and gives us the hope of Heaven. I look forward to meeting your dad one day. May the memories of him comfort you until you meet up with him in paradise. 

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    Denise, thank you for sharing your story and your conviction here. I'm thankful that you were able to see God's goodness even in this hard season and thankful for the reminder that God is still good even when life is hard. Thank you.

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for sharing your family's story from your heart. It is a beautiful reminder of God's compassion and love for us. 

    Jun 27, 2017

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