Have you ever noticed that when church people say, “God is good!” it’s often in the context of God doing something good for them?
I got the job! God is good!
They accepted our offer! Isn’t God good?
No more chemo! God is so good!
We won a trip to Disney World! God is good to us!
These are the same people who have only one answer when you ask them how they're doing. They are perpetually "blessed."
God does delight in giving us good things*, and we are right to gratefully acknowledge it when good things happen. But I have a confession to make: On bad days, when I hear the proclamation, I’m sometimes tempted to think, Of course He’s good. You just got a blessing.
Because the truth is, right now there are certain things I think would be very good of God to do for me. If I were Him, I would snap my fingers and perform an instant miracle. The things I need are noble, worthy and right things. Things that would help me as a Christian advance His Kingdom (as if He couldn't possibly help me do that, regardless).
I reason with God this way, but He isn't convinced enough to give me what I want. Not today, anyway.
Because, the thing is, God is good. It's hard to wrap our minds around this great paradox of the Christian faith: God withholds things--including good things-- from us, precisely because He is good. His very nature—his heart and character are essentially good.
I know those words are enough to make a suffering or traumatized person bristle or scream. But stay with me.
Wouldn't it make sense that if God is truly, purely good, then He knows something* we don't and can't know about why He doesn't do good when we think he should? Why He didn't rescue, provide, or heal when He could have?
Wouldn't it mean that God's eternal perspective is so vastly and entirely different from our temporal (human) perspective, that we cannot begin to comprehend that difference? That God sees our lives on this earth as the tiniest blip in the time/space dimension, and whatever He allows to happen in this fleeting here-and-now is directly connected to His desire for us to spend eternity in unfathomable, blissful intimacy with Him and with others?
In other words, a good God has our best eternal interest at heart.
And it's that same "goodness in purpose" that sustains me through my current suffering, and even causes me to thrive in the midst of it.
That’s because I am convinced this Good God loves me.
So I don’t reserve the declaration of God’s goodness only for sunny days. Sometimes I’m forcing the words, one by one, through trembling lips as I peel my spirit off the ground in the darkness.
God. Is. Good.
And if He is good, it stands to reason that He is also just. And the evil one, for all the mess he has made of this world, has his day coming.*
*See I Timothy 6:17; Isaiah 55:8-9; Revelation 20-21