God’s Promises: Good or God?

I will publish this because it is true and necessary, but I will also publish this to serve as a reminder when I forget:
Stop looking for the good things; start looking for the God things.
That is a mantra that is far easier to type than to experience. It is a statement that can easily come off as trite Christian advice – a flip philosophy – but it remains oh so true. We recall the story of Joseph as the penultimate example of not knowing what is for our good during the refinement process. The entire book of Job is another example given to us for our times of suffering. In fact, story after story in the Bible points us to the reality that we truly do not know what is for our good.
Consider the story of Noah. Did he believe that his years of labor on an impossible and unheard-of task was for his good? Did Jacob see any good in his years of grieving a son that he believed was dead? Did Naomi see any good in losing her husband and sons? What about Jonah when he was tossed overboard? The truth is that we are very poor discerners when it comes to defining what is for our good.
Thanks be to God that what is for our good is beyond our control. Would we choose suffering? Would we choose difficult times? Would we choose to lose what is close to us or the people we hold dear? Of course not! We do not like pain, difficulty, grief, nor loss. It is uncomfortable, it hurts, and we fight against that.
Almost any vice we may find in our life is an attempt to avoid pain. Legal drugs, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, perfectionism, pornography, electronic media, overworking, food addictions and exercise can all soothe or numb us from pain. Yet somehow, in the middle of our not-so-good, God intervenes and can create something for our good.
I recently went through a difficult season in my life. In many ways I could describe it as an emotional, spiritual, and mental “winter.” I was cold, I was numb, and nothing would grow. I couldn’t write. I could function, but only in short bursts. It was the equivalent of getting all bundled up for a snowball fight, running around with the appearance of joy, and quickly retreating to the comforts of hot chocolate.
There was one day when I awoke with a sense of optimism. But after a phone call didn’t happen as I had hoped, and a piece of mail I didn’t want arrived anyway, I was ready to pout. My temper tantrum landed me flat on my back in my bed, ready to argue with God. I had barely opened my mouth in an are-you-listening? prayer before I heard God clearly ask, “Am I not still good?”
The question stopped me and my hopes to have a cleansing rant. Either I believed that God IS good, or I didn’t. If I believe that God is good, that His goodness is an unchanging attribute, then what was the problem? What had changed? Only my circumstances. And now, as I begin an emotional, spiritual, and mental season of Spring, I can honestly say that the difficult times were for my good. I pressed in closer to God. I sensed God with me more than I had before. And I now have yet another example of God’s faithfulness to me in difficult times.
God IS good.
That doesn’t change.
Whatever season you find yourself in as you read this, remember: we are terrible judges of what will be for our good. God is not.
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.'” ~ Hebrews 13: 5b-6a, NIV
Amen and Amen.

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