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.


10,000 Reasons

*The seed for this began when my youngest son’s class at school put into practice the recording of blessings as explored in Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Others had recommended the book after that, and I began to put it into practice. Yet I was also challenged by Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons,” and I decided not to stop at 1,000. Now that I have reached that mark, I want to shift the focus. I want to not only take note of the blessings, but also note a Scripture or a promise of God that is reflected in the blessing. I want to not only hear the echo and see the reflection, but I want to turn and see the source. Pressing on and in.
*All Scripture passages are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

1010) Watching Boxer try to escape the persistent play of the puppy.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

1009) Water running down my beard.
It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. Psalm 133:2

1008) Feeling as if I had worked like my father.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

1007) Finishing what I had started.
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

1006) Watching how water runs down.
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” Acts 8:36

1005) Songs that plead Scripture, such as “Take me into the Holy of Holies.”
Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,” Hebrews 9:3 (New American Standard Bible)

1004) I stopped my rush to “do” so that I could listen to all of Joshua’s story.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, LORD, according to your laws. Psalm 119:149

1003) Joshua testified that he has learned to do his homework right away on the weekends.
We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. I John 5:9

1002) Jonathan followed through on his plan to make a new and special breakfast.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

1001) Tulips opening up in the morning sun.
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:12

1000) I heard Jonathan singing while he made breakfast for everyone.
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17