Wednesday, October 3, 2012

God is good all the time

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.

13 comments:

  1. Wonderful article, Kim. It reminds me of something Augustine said in "The City of God." He was discussing God's goodness and evil, and that it is evil to look for good outside of God:
    "Consequently he who inordinately loves the good which any nature possesses, even though he obtain it, himself becomes evil in the good, and wretched because depraved of a greater good" (388).
    I think this is a wrestling match that we go through in our trials--wanting good, even if it is outside of God (which is impossible!).

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    2. Thanks, Aimee. Yes, we like to be the arbiters of what is good. But any good I have comes from what He gives me. It may look "good" to the world, but if it doesn't come from Him, it isn't good at all.

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  2. "What I needed at that time was a better understanding of His goodness." - Words to walk by or words by which to walk. Kim, Thank you for this post. IT is indeed one more whisper of the Lord's encouragement.
    Have a wonderful day, and yes, let me join my voice with yours - God is good.
    Grace, Peace and Joy,
    Jojo

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    1. Thanks, Jojo. Thankful for like-minded voices.

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  3. Wonderful words Kim. Thank you for them.

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    1. Thank you, Diane. Your encouragement always means a lot to me.

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  4. "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."

    Excellent! This takes "goodness" out of the realm of our subjective experience and plants it squarely back on God's character.

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    1. I like how you put that, Persis, taking it out of the realm of our sujbective experience. Thanks!

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  5. Adding my hearty Amen to your post, Kim. The solid ground of God's goodness is a firm place to stand when every circumstance throws us for a loop. His character is faultless and he can be and do nothing but good. And I love knowing that "No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11)

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  6. Rosemary, thanks for your encouragement!

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  7. "We think of goodness in our own human terms, not in the eternal purposes of God. This is where anger toward God begins"

    Kim, that was a treasure. This whole piece is a wonderful testimony, full of insight into God's nature of goodness.

    Tim

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    1. Thank you, Tim. That was very kind of you to say. I continue to learn a lot about His goodness.

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