Knowing His Goodness
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. (Lamentations 3:25)
There is none good but God (Matthew 19:17). His goodness is in the heavens. “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee” (Psalm 31:19). “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). And in Lamentations 3:25 is the true way of entering into and rejoicing in this goodness of God- waiting upon Him.
The Lord is good- even His children often do not know this, for they do not wait in quietness for Him to reveal it. But to those who persevere in waiting, whose souls do wait, it will come true.
One might think that it is just those who have to wait who might doubt His goodness. But this is only when they do not wait, but grow impatient. The truly waiting ones will say, “The Lord is good to them that wait for Him” (Lamentations 3:25). If you want to fully know the goodness of God, give yourself more than ever to a life of waiting on Him.
At our first entrance into the school of waiting upon God, the heart is mainly set on the blessings which we wait for. God graciously uses our needs and desires to help educate us for something higher than we were thinking of. We were seeking gifts; He, the Giver longs to give Himself and to satisfy the soul with His goodness. It is just for this reason that He often withholds the gifts, and that the time waiting is made so long. He is constantly seeking to win the heart of His child for Himself. He wishes that we would say, “How good is God!” not only when He bestows the gift, but that long before it comes- even if it never comes- we should all the time be experiencing: “The Lord is good to them that wait for him.”
Often we have heard and said, “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.” Every act of God can be nothing but good even when it is contrary to our desires and expectations. The very idea that God can be anything other than good often stems from our idea that if He were truly good, He would give us our demands and not only give us what we ask but to do quickly.
There are many who see God only as Provider much like Santa who brings good gifts to His children and if they have no immediate need they will neglect seeking Him.
The case in point is the response that occurred following 911. O how we gathered and sought God until the danger passed by and then many quickly abandoned the seeking and went about life and their relationship with God complacently. They drifted back into a less intense prayer and church life. All was good, the Provider had come through and we became so busy with the gift of safety that we forgot the Giver.
It’s so easy to chase the Giver till we receive the gift and then become so involved with the gift that the Giver is neglected. I think sometimes that God withholds our answers to prayer hoping that if we keep coming to Him for the gift, we will eventually enjoy our meetings and time together that we will continue to come even after we receive the gift.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us to ask and we shall receive, to seek and we shall find, and to knock and the door will be opened. So off we go asking for some blessing and our focus becomes getting that blessing. When it delays or doesn’t come in the form we have imagined, often we become weary of asking and cease to do so. Like Abraham and Sarah, we then decide to just take matters into our own hands.
We are told to seek and we will find and we begin our search for happiness or fulfillment. Our goal is to feel good about life and our desire is that life will be working out well. We’ll get the job or promotion or house or car that we’re sure will make life better, so we seek. Again when it doesn’t happen our way and in our time, we often abandon the seeking and decide to either make it happen ourselves or doubt the goodness of God who apparently isn’t responding to our demands. There is even a teaching in the church that implies if we speak the Word of God back to Him, He is obligated to give us what we ask no matter what that may be. We are told to knock and the door will be opened to us, so we knock and knock and knock and opportunity never answers the door so eventually we cease to knock.
During this continued pandemic, one of our struggles has been tied to the question, “When will it be over and when can I go back to my normal life?” So we have asked and sought and knocked and here we are still months later still living restricted lives. We believe God is able or at least He is able to give knowledge and wisdom to medical people to come up with a remedy. We wait impatiently to return to indoor gatherings and we have become weary and frustrated in the waiting. We are angry with our leaders, both secular and church, because they aren’t making all this go away. Sadly many are withdrawing from their faith as well.
Surveys are revealing that post-pandemic church attendance will be somewhere between 40-60% of pre-pandemic numbers. There is division over how we approach church and gatherings ranging from no in-person gatherings to full blown in- person gatherings. My question would be that while we wait will we continue to pursue our fellowship with God?
As Jesus concludes His instructions for us to ask, seek, and knock, He tells us that if we who are sinful know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more so is our Heavenly Father. Then He says something amazing that changes the whole concept of this teaching. He tells us that in response to our asking we will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is what I believe Jesus is saying to us. When we ask or seek or knock, we may not always get what we have imagined as our preferred response. Let me explain. When our grandson Titus was born, we prayed and asked and sought and knocked on heaven’s door for his healing and restoration. In his last episode, we prayed diligently for God to provide us the miracle of life for him. God chose instead to bring him home to heaven so we didn’t receive what we asked. But the goodness of God provided us the Holy Spirit who comforted us, gave us strength and tightened our family together in incredible ways. Though our desire was keeping our grandson with us, we instead were given this gift of the Comforter.
This is what I believe Jesus is saying. As we ask, we may be focused on our imagined answer, but what God wants to give us is Himself. When we seek, it may be relief from stress or anxiety so God, the Peace-giver makes Himself ours and though the factors leading to stress and anxiety may remain the same, His presence calms the storm in our hearts. When we knock, we may expect avenues to open and a way to be made, we receive the Holy Spirit who guides us into truth and understanding and thought the avenue and way may stay closed, His hand holding and guiding brings us to understand the goodness of God.
Whatever happens in our lives, we can know that God is good, all the time.
We used to sing this chorus:
God is so good
God is so good
God is so good
He’s so good to me!
I pray that’s your story.
Dr. John Thompson