Redefining the Goodness of God
Have you ever had something go terribly wrong, and then it turned out to actually be a good thing? When I was in 4th grade, this happened to me! I was playing little league; pitched with an ERA of probably 85.2 and struck out more times than the number of outbreaks at a Donald Trump rally. One day in practice, I was up to bat and was particularly frustrated that I was one of the worst hitters on the team. Determined to make up for it, I stepped up to the plate ready to turn on an inside pitch and show my coach I good for more than just being the first kid to make it to the concession stand after the game for free popsicles. Here game the pitch… and BAM! A single? A double? Nope, I got DRILLED right in the face! I have pictures, but just imagine a stocky blonde weirdo (so basically me now), with a black eye.
I was ticked, but the next game our team played against the best pitcher in the league. We got smoked, our team had to run after the game, and I was just kicking my feet up in the dugout spitting sunflower seeds. I wasn’t jealous at all!
Kinda funny story, but the point is that something good things come in ways that are not preferable. This is true for you too. You and I have a tendency to have a skewed view of the goodness of God. Here are three things to consider about God’s goodness.
1.) God is good.
I didn’t say you or I are good, I said God is good. Such a deep and profound statement to claim that we make far too often, not even realizing exactly what we are saying. We are good because HE is good and has made us good. We only understand the goodness of God if we acknowledge our separation of true goodness apart from Him. The depth of God’s goodness doesn’t gain any ground in our hearts if we can’t be honest about how disobedient, lost, and hopeless we are without Him. This also means that when trial comes (wait for it, it’s coming if it hasn’t already.), we don’t get to choose what is good and what is not. We don’t. Because God is good, and we are not. He calls the shots. He holds the whole universe in His hands. He knew you would make the mistake of (fill in the blank). He knew you would make the mistake of (fill in the blank x’s 89,000, because we make the same mistakes over and over again). We don’t call the shots, we submit. We don’t do good, He produces and reveals His goodness through us. The reality is that this is true whether we believe it or not; God’s goodness isn’t subject to our understanding of it. He is good…period!
2.) Goodness doesn’t always feel good.
Yeah, a shot to the face with a baseball didn’t feel too great! But you probably got my point, right? God, oftentimes, instills goodness in our lives by breaking our lives. And we shouldn’t be surprised by this, because Jesus NEVER promised that following Him would be easy, but He did always say that it would be good. From my experience, the experience that breaks us isn’t always good, but it’s what God produces in those moments that make it good.
You don’t need another blog post telling you to try harder. You don’t need another person not understanding the level of brokenness that you experience every single day. How you miss that person, how hard it is to be ran over by sin and guilt, and how you wake up searching to see how you have any value. They don’t know how much you think about it and the fervency by which your brokenness attacks and wages war against you. I don’t know that either! But here’s what I know; God’s goodness will never be something we can fully grasp. His goodness truly is TOO GOOD! It’s better than we can imagine. But if we aren’t strong in God’s Word, emotionalism will completely rob us of the value and satisfaction that is the goodness of God.
It might not feel good, and it’s probably not supposed to. What if God knew that? What if He is shaking you up so that He can show you Himself? So that years from now when you look back, staying faithful in the trial, you will be able to see that God was better. His goodness isn’t subject to our understanding of it, He is good! Do you really believe that?
God is okay with you not thinking He is good
Before you call the heresy police, hear me out. There are times where you wake up and you can’t honestly, with every fiber in your being, see how in the world God is producing anything “good” in your circumstances. I get that, I’m the same way. Sometimes our lives are so contrary to the “joy” that we are supposed to experience as we are told when we read God’s Word. How can this divorce be good? How is it good that a close family member or friend dies when they were just the best person? How can extended loneliness and depression be good?
I doubt God’s goodness every single day, and I think that you probably do too. In response to all of these feelings; I think that it is permissible, and even wise, to lament. Biblical lament is a church word that essentially just means prayer out of pain. You don’t think your life is fair, tell God! If we go throughout many of our days thinking, believing, and having questions about God’s goodness; how could it be wrong to verbalize those feelings through prayer? If everything in else in our lives is geared towards those feelings, verbalizing them to God won’t be how He finds out we feel this way; WE are actually the ones who will be transformed through lament. God can handle whatever you think He can’t handle. Healthy lament; lament that is honest but also includes the truth of the gospel in regards to the circumstance, is very good. There are multiple cases in the Bible where godly people lamented, even Jesus. We don’t serve a High Priest who is unable to sympathize. Tell Him what’s wrong, even though He knows. But then, be ready to hear God’s response. Lament involves complaining, but it is not ONLY complaining; await the response of God and respond accordingly.
‘What is good?’ is a question that would get a lot of different responses. How would you answer it? What would you say? May we answer that question humbly, pointing to the God who exemplifies goodness and has modeled it for us in every single thing that He has ever done.