God is good.
Sometimes I struggle to really believe that God is good. Oh, I confess it with my mouth and consent to it in my mind but when it comes down to it I find on the heart level a suspicion that God is not as good as I would like Him to be, a doubt that He will indeed work out all things for good in my life. It is easy to rest in God’s goodness when things are going well but when hard times are prolonged, our faith in His unchanging goodness can be sorely tested. “Is God really good?” comes the not-so-subtle whisper when life is hard. Even though we confess it with our lips, do we not all struggle with the thought at times that God is only mostly good, that there are times when He simply isn’t good, at least not towards us?
Though on a doctrinal level I might be the first to defend both God’s goodness and His sovereignty , I find there are days when I am responding to life more on the basis of the suspicion that He is not truly good than on the basis of the faith I profess. But has this not always been the case with man? Was not the very first temptation a temptation to doubt God’s complete goodness, a temptation to believe that He was holding something back from us, that He was indeed unreasonably withholding something genuinely good? I find that Satan’s tactics have not really changed all that much since that day when he first tried to cast doubt on the character of God with his clever and devastating questions. One of his most effective weapons against us is to make us doubt God’s goodness. Isn’t a heart which rests in the knowledge that God is good all the time a powerful force against evil? When I call to mind and give thanks for God’s goodness, I am arming myself against Satan’s attacks. Calling to mind examples of God’s goodness in my own life or in the lives of others and bringing Him a heart of praise and thankfulness becomes my strong defense against Satan’s subtle insinuations that God will not come through for me in this present trial. The truth is that when I allow negativity and suspicion to take root in my heart, I am simply playing into Satan’s hands.
So then, to say that God is good is not to just glibly spout platitudes. It is the realization that this is the foundation upon which I must build my life. Understanding and believing in God’s goodness changes how I look at everything. While God is good, there is no situation which is hopeless – unless of course I choose to exclude God from it. God’s goodness teaches me to look at all aspects of my life with hope. And hope in turn releases me from the fear which paints everything in the colours of doom. (How many days have we lived in shades of grey simply because we lost our hope in God, however briefly?) Hope changes the words in my mind and the words on my lips. It is such a fundamental piece of theology that it is no wonder that it has been under attack since the beginning of time. And the truth of God’s constant and complete goodness will continue to be called into question till the end of time.
Why is it so important?
Because the net result of distrusting God is evil. Evil results when I don’t believe in God’s goodness, when I harbour suspicions that He is not who He says He is. It is at this point that I stop trusting in Him and start trusting in my own resourcefulness, my own solutions, and my own wisdom and I necessarily go wrong. I go astray. After all, is this not the definition of sin – missing the mark, going astray like a lost sheep, lost because I no longer trust the Shepherd and listen to His voice? At the end of the day my distrust of God dishonours Him and yet there is nothing more pleasing to God than a heart which trusts Him implicitly even in the hardest of circumstances.
So when my vision is clouded and my suspicious heart is beginning to grow cold towards God, how do I renew my childlike trust in Him? By remembering! When I am sinking under the waves of circumstances I must call to mind the One who has always kept me from drowning in the past. I must remember a lifetime of His faithfulnesses towards me and I must stand on His promises which are all mine in Christ Jesus.
What I realize is this: if I truly believe in God’s goodness, the goodness of His plans, and His intentions towards me as His beloved child, it will change not only the way I think and act but, perhaps more importantly, the way I pray. I will pray with faith and confidence rather than from a place of fear and panic. I will pray as a child who is confident in her parent’s love and utter capability to meet her needs. I will feel secure even in hard circumstances, knowing that no circumstance past, present, or future will be able to separate me from God’s love or indeed God’s goodness. Truly believing in God’s goodness is life-transforming. In some part it restores a little of what Adam and Eve had in the garden, though, for a time, we may be walking out in the wilderness. There is an intimacy with God which can be experienced only when we have settled the question of His goodness towards us. When will we realize that though we fall, we fall into the hands of a God who is both mighty and gentle, holy and gracious, that He holds my life both firmly and tenderly, that He is in fact everything that I need?
“O taste and see that the Lord is good: how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8
How have you experienced God’s goodness? Is there a situation in your life where you need to be reminded of God’s goodness? I’d love to hear your stories.