Wednesday, May 25, 2016

God is still good

School demands have encouraged me to re-post something. Also, the topic of God's goodness has been on my mind in the wake of a friend's recent loss of a child. This is from October, 2012

God is so good
God is so good
God is so good
He's so good to me
Such a simple song. It's easy to learn, simple enough to teach a child, and very useful for humming while you rock a baby to sleep.  The goodness of God, however, extends to heights and depths that we can spend a life time pursuing.

The original Saxon meaning of our English word "God," is "The Good." God, in his very nature is good. Louis Berkhof refers to it as “benevolent interest.”

His goodness is underived. He, unlike human beings, does not need anything to make Him good. He is goodness itself, and there is no limit to his goodness. A.W. Pink says:
God has in Himself an infinite and inexhaustible treasure of all blessedness enough to fill all things. 
Not only is He Himself good, he does good. The exercise of His goodness is first seen in His creation of this world, (Genesis 1:31) and then in His provision to us (Psalm 145:9; Psalm 84:11) as His children and image bearers. God is the source of all good (James 1:17) to everyone.

God's goodness exercised toward us is evident in His love for us, His mercy toward us when we suffer, His longsuffering when we disobey, and in His grace toward us. His ultimate expression of goodness through grace, is, of course, His provision of salvation through Christ. All of this emanates from Him, and Him alone, who is the chiefest good.

Sounds pretty clear, doesn't it? Should it not be easy to rest in such precious truth? Despite it being such a simple thing to say that God is good, we will experience difficulty with recognizing and accepting God's goodness toward us.

As Rebecca said in a earlier post, God is self-existent; this extends to all of His attributes, including His goodness.  He does not need anything to make Himself good. We are not self-existent, therefore any goodness we have must come from an outside source, namely God. Because we cannot see good as He does, when inevitable trials come our way, His goodness may not feel good at all. Often, our idea of good means “trouble-free.” Often, our idea of good is that we receive whatever we want. We think of goodness in our own human terms, not in the eternal purposes of God.  This is where anger toward God begins, when we don't see His good as good at all.  Part of understanding God's goodness to us is realizing that His good works toward eternal purposes, not our momentary comfort and satisfaction.  If God's good happens to result in a good we would choose for ourselves, is entirely because He wants it to be so.

Six years ago at this time, I was in the midst of a really difficult time. I woke up every morning feeling like I had a weight on my chest. I walked through those days, distracted, the situation constantly in the forefront of my thinking. I recognized it as a trial, and I understood that God ordained this trial, but every day was a struggle, and I knew I was not handling it well. Knowing I was not handling it well was an added sting.  I knew I had to do something about my bad reaction. I had no control over the appearance of the trial, but I had a choice as to what my response would be.  What I needed at that time was a better understanding of His goodness.

I have always likened trials to walking through a tunnel, where the light is dim, but where we see the light at the end, marking the trial's conclusion. My problem was that I did not see that the goodness in the trial is not necessarily in getting to the end, but looking around in the tunnel at the goodness there.  Yes, there is goodness in the trial. There is love, mercy, and longsuffering in the midst of the trial.  Even the chastening hand that may accompany the trial is good (Hebrews 12:6). Instead of looking at the good that was at the end of the tunnel, I needed to look at the good in the midst of the trial. It was the only way through.

One day, about a year and a half after this trial began, I was driving out in the beautiful autumn countryside, and I began praying out loud. I thanked God for the goodness of the trial, even though I was still in the midst of it. Quite fittingly, it was during a time when I was teaching ladies the book of James, and we had been discussing James 1:17, a verse uttered in the context of trials.

If you are walking through troubled times, take comfort in God's goodness. It may be difficult, but we can trust completely in the knowledge that the trial is good. Instead of straining against it and questioning why the trial is upon you, rest in the knowledge that God is good all the time.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for reposting this. It reminded me of song Steve Camp sang; here are some of the lyrics to Mercy in the Wilderness:

    Every day that I walk with You
    Oh You break me down and You make me new
    Though my faith is tried, this I know is true
    There is mercy in the wilderness

    Through the valley deep and the mountain high
    You have been my strength and Your Word my guide
    I have known Your grace through the tears I've cried
    There is mercy in the wilderness

    In the barren place where the hard winds blow
    Oh my flesh cries out, "Lord refresh my soul!"

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