Sharon listened intently to her friend as she recounted how their previous chat had been so helpful to her and had helped her see her situation from a completely different angle. ‘Tell me again what I said to you’, Sharon interjected, ‘because I really need to hear it for myself now, I just got laid off at my work’. With a momentary pause of shock, her friend went on to ask, ‘ Are you ok? How do you feel?’. Sharon said, ‘ I’m not fully sure what it is I feel, but one thing I know for certain is that God is good and this belongs to him as well’.
We usually don’t miss a single beat to ascribe the things that bring us immense joy to God. We can’t wait to announce to our friend, the total stranger on the train or our 700 followers on Instagram how ‘good’ God is because we got the job or we were able to go on that trip, pass the test or get our dream car. The truth is, it really is not that difficult in such situations. But are these the only times that God is actually good?
What happens when we have waited years for the second bar on the pregnancy test kit to turn red and that never seems to happen? What are we thinking when we’ve been on our knees seeking a breakthrough for the difficult situation that our friend is facing and nothing seems to budge? Worse yet what happens when what we actually prayed for and received suddenly starts to look like a hurdle to overcome or brings pain instead of joy? What happens when the relationship ends when you hoped for better?
The likely situations are endless, the reactions, however, aren’t. We are either quick to be openly angry at the God who doesn’t seem to hear our prayers or doesn’t seem to give much of a thought to make it happen or quietly withdraw from what we thought He was supposed to be and do and harbor a giant grudge and dislike for this God.
All this is one side of the coin. The other is rare and is what we are called on to do.
Job approached it this way in his answer to his wife who asked him to turn against God and die, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”Job 2:10.
Are we okay with the ones we have specifically asked for but nothing else? Are we okay when we pray for a job and get one but get mad when we pray for more responsibility or a promotion and suddenly we get sent off from the job? Is God good when one business deal is a hot success and suddenly not when our next client pulls out of the deal just before it is sealed? Shall we take the summer and not the cold winter?
Two things. Psalm 37:23 says, ‘The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives’ and then very famous Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them’. If the Bible is truly the word of God and if the words in there are true, then I can believe that once my life is submitted to God, to guide, to lead, to mould, to transform and to use for His purpose, that no matter what I walk through, He is already aware and will use it for a purpose greater than any I could ever envision. He will ‘drop hints’ for me to change course at the appropriate time and even when I seem to not see these signs, He won’t hesitate to push me out of the way in whatever way possible (though He doesn’t invite me to vividly ignore signs).
He has a plan. What I see of this plan is extremely limited. I can make as many guesses as possible but somehow I would still fall severely short of predicting exactly what He has in the works. What I can do though is to totally, completely, utterly trust Him. Trust that He is good, not only when He gives me the good things, but also when the things I don’t particularly consider good, happen as well. Because even though they may not necessarily be from him, He always has a way of using even the things that were meant for my harm and destruction for my good. He is not only good when I get my job. He is also good when I get laid off. What I don’t see with being laid off is that it may mean a better job for me tomorrow or not, God is still good. It may mean more time to write books, travel or not, God is still good. I can’t figure Him or what He wants to do in the future out and I won’t attempt this. What I can do is just trust, trust that His goodness will come through for me again and yet again and that what He has for me is indeed for my good and never to harm me and better than any I could venture on my own.
One of my favorite songwriters in his song ‘God is good‘ says this of those moments that cause us to question the goodness of God we seemed so sure of in the happy moments.
May your struggles keep you near the cross
And may your troubles show that you need God
And may your battles end the way they should
And may your bad days prove that God is good
And may your whole life prove that God is good
‘Jonathan Mcreynolds – God Is Good’
God is good, all the time and indeed all the time, God is good.