July 5, 2017

A Good God

God is good, all the time. I've been pondering this truth the last few weeks.  Good all the time?  Good no matter what happens?

Four weeks ago I thought I was driving there to sit with them while they lost their son.  Getting hit by a semi doesn't usually end well with people.  I felt physically sick.  It was the kind of drive where you pray non-stop begging God to act, to save, to work a miracle.  I had made the drive to this ER before.  I had prayed the same types of prayers only they were for my own son. I have stared death in the face, and I prayed fervently all the way there that these friends would not have to do the same. 

The grief was intense and the wait for that wonderful and awful life flight chopper was long. Though different, and though 13 years had passed, it all felt a little too familiar - the ER, the chopper, the time of year, a son. I did the only thing I knew to do - be present and pray. I stood by and sat by them in the same way they had sat by us 13 years earlier.  The weight and the wait felt too much for anyone to bear but I knew from experience, He can make anyone able.

The chopper came, the doctors went to work, and then the news came.  God had answered.  No broken bones.  No major internal trauma.  Full recovery expected. Oh the joy and relief that washed over that waiting room of so many loving, caring people!

The next day brought news that felt discouraging but following days only pointed more and more to a miracle and God was answering the prayer of not only a life saved, but full recovery.
God is good.  Many said it, myself included. 

As I drove back and forth to the hospital many times over the next several days I had to wrestle that truth out a little.  God is good.  I never stopped believing it but I throw that statement out every time God answers in the way that I think He should.  How often do I say it when He answers in a way that breaks hearts?  Is He only good when He gives me what I ask, or when He does what I think He should? When are we as believers willing to say He is good?  Is He good when we are standing over a grave, or we get a hard diagnosis, or we are still alone, or we have faced endless hurt? Is He good whether he saves a life or not even though He is always able?  Sometimes we are afraid to ask the hard questions.  The real question is, is He good all the time?

True goodness must always be good. His goodness is not based on outcomes or circumstances.  I know He is good because His Word tells me so:

“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
Psalms 100:5

I also know He is good because He has shown me so in loving me no matter how undeserving I am, in faithfully meeting me and carrying me through the hard circumstances life can bring, in gifts of grace and joy that I haven't earned, in laying down His life for me when I was His enemy (Romans 5:10), in bringing beauty out of the ashes of my life (Isaiah 61:3).  His steadfast love and faithfulness have been evident throughout my life and the lives of those I know.

“The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”
Psalms 145:9

 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

He is good.  He is good to all.  He is working good.

The Bible is clear on God's goodness.  How I define “good” is the real problem. In my limited thinking I always want to tie it to what I want, what I see as best, what I understand.  I know my heart and mind though, and I don't want a God who bases good on what I think or I know.  I am not good.  I have come to trust that what He sees that I can't and His very character is much better than my sight and character.  His goodness is true and constant regardless of what my feelings say and regardless of what things look like through my eyes. I see so dimly (I Corinthians 13:12).

I was challenged four weeks ago, as I celebrated God’s saving and miraculous work, to proclaim His goodness even in the hard.  I am beyond overjoyed that our friends are spending this 4th of July with all of their children.  It absolutely thrills my heart that they can walk into his room and hug him.  I love that God has things in store for that remarkable, young man and his parents can be there to celebrate the milestones in life like graduation from college and perhaps marriage and grandkids.  I am praising the Lord with them for his life and God’s goodness to them.  As I look back thirteen years though, I realize that though it may not have felt like it at the time, though I didn't immediately proclaim it, God was just as good as I held my son for the last time and as I stood over his small casket.  His goodness is not defined by my circumstances and that is something that should give me great confidence.  His goodness means something bigger and beyond what I can comprehend.  He is working in a way I can't even imagine.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21

Is God good all the time?  Yes.  Yes, He is if I define it correctly and don't tie it to my desires and my limited knowledge. Then I can stare into the valley of the shadow of death in all its darkness and unknowns and know with confidence that His goodness and mercy will forever be following me until one day I am at home with Him forever (Psalm 23). I can proclaim God is good with the same joy and certainty as when He works wonders before me knowing He is still working just as remarkably but beyond my scope of vision.


Four weeks later and lots of thinking about how God answers our prayers I have definitely determined all the time, God is good.