Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of people, and praise Him in the company of the elders. Psalm. 107:31-34
When the Bible says that God is good, it means that all of God’s intentions toward us are for our benefit, and His actions are designed to accomplish those intentions. But do we believe it? Do we really believe that God’s is good, not in some cosmic sense, but in a real-life, tangible way so that our belief makes a difference in our lives today?
We sometimes limit the scope of what we call “good,” to the detriment of wisdom and spiritual vitality. We think of all the “good things” of life-ice cream, camping, dinner with friends, our team winning the championship-and it’s easy for us to confine “good” to only those events that are pleasant. But God’s goodness isn’t confined in any way. He intends for each of us grow strong in our faith, and He orchestrates circumstances to test us, stretch us,and cause us to realize how much we depend on Him. His “goodness” isn’t measured only by pleasant times (though He gives those in abundance). Instead, He is more like a great coach who knows how to get the best out of his players, pushing some, encouraging all, and testing each one to his or her limits.
If, at our insistence, God’s goodness were shown only in the narrow, limited of giving of pleasant experiences, we would remain spiritual infants. But God insists on growing us up. Unfortunately, we all have to go through “adolescence,” when we struggle to believe that the authority in our lives (God in this case) is wise and good. If we stay with it and gain real wisdom, though, we’ll learn to see God’s extravagant goodness in every situation we encounter. He’s a great coach!
To the same Divine Author of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17) we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.
One of the aspects of the goodness of God is that sometimes His goodness toward one inadvertently causes pain to another. Only when we can truly learn to rejoice when those around us are being blessed even if it’s not benefiting us personally can we truly begin to understand the goodness of God. Let me illustrate.
Sitting beside the bed at the hospital my mom’s last day on earth, I was confronted with the question of the goodness of God. For my mother who was a Christian, having suffered for a year with colon cancer, the goodness of God was He was preparing her to come home to be with Him. I knew that was best for her but I wondered where was the goodness of God for me personally. My mother took my hand and said, “Johnny, I want to go home.” That was her wish. I wanted to keep her here even if it meant that she suffered. As we sat together I wrestled with the idea of the goodness of God. I began to see that we sometimes limit the goodness of God to a single moment or a brief span of time. But the goodness of God is eternal. I began to understand that even in my moment of pain, the loss of my mother to me was the moment of exceeding joy for her. Pain free, in the presence of Jesus and reunited with my dad and brothers and other family and loved ones who were in heaven. How could I not see the goodness of God in that.
I’m so glad that we don’t have say about the weather. What a mess that would be, but it serves again as reminder that the goodness of God for one might not feel good for another. Imagine a farm next to a golf course. I’m sure the farmer feels that the rain is a gift through the goodness of God and the golf course owner sees it as a curse. For the farmer it means the crops grow, for the golf course owner in means some revenue loss. Let’s reverse that. Suppose there are many days of bright sunshine and the golf course is filled to capacity. Certainly the owner would attribute that to the goodness of God. The farmer, however, might wonder of God had forgotten about him as the crops begin to dry and die.
My point is that we must trust the goodness of God in every situation believing that He truly loves us and everything that happens in our lives is in the long run works for our good.
David, in the 23rd Psalm reminds us that “goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives” and then we receive the ultimate goodness of God as we “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” What a phrase! “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” What a priceless promise!
Sometimes it takes a while to see the goodness of God. Sometimes after not getting our way or what we want, maybe after sulking or pouting with God, we discover that the place God has brought us to is better than where we would have been had He left us on our own.
Our question of the goodness of God is related to another question that is at the root. Does God truly love me? That’s the real question. It the real question asked by children when parents restrict their lifestyles or withhold something they want that’s not good for them. Once we begin to believe we are loved, we can begin to see that sometimes a “no” comes from goodness.
I hope today that somehow God will make known to you today His love and you will see that in every moment and at every occasion God’s goodness is following after us all the time.
Dr. John Thompson