When something good happens in the life of a Christian, one of the first things they will say is, “God is good!” In the last couple of years it has become common for people who hear the “God is good” refrain to add “All the time” as a means of agreeing with the person’s thanksgiving and praise. You’ll hear this couplet when:
- A surgery has been successful
- Someone is pronounced cancer free
- The new home loan comes through
- A sick child is now well
- The hoped for job, or promotion, happens
I’ve even heard people utter the words in reaction to a sunshiny day.
But what do you say to someone whose young child has died from cancer? Or when someone loses a job or has their house foreclosed on them? What do you say to someone whose surgery was not successful? Do you say to them, “God is good”; “God is good all the time”?
When our world comes crashing in, and we finding ourselves walking through our figurative “valley of the shadow of death,” it is difficult to have an attitude of praise toward God. After all, God could have prevented our painful experience from happening, couldn’t he?
We know God is all those “o” words: omnipresent (present everywhere all the time); omnipotent (all powerful); omniscient (all knowing), but is he really good ALL the time?
What does “good” mean? My fear is that we sometimes predicate God’s goodness upon our happiness, that is, if things work out the way I hoped they would, then God be praised for his goodness. We want to be standing under the cup of blessing when it is being poured out and eagerly soak it up and smile at our good fortune.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know I often refer to the Old Testament character Job when discussing these kinds of topics. To my knowledge no one has ever suffered as many catastrophic events as he did.
There is a tête-à-tête between Job and his wife early in his story. She seems to be fed up with his stoic stance in the face of such suffering. In a moment of raw emotion she screams at him, “Why don’t you just curse God and die?!”
Job’s simple answer to his wife’s complex question is, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job, that man of ancient time, understood the nature of grace before it was revealed in its fullness through the gift of Christ to the world. He knew that every good thing that had ever happened in his life was because of the hand of God; God’s grace-filled hand. Job understood that he was an imperfect and flawed man and didn’t deserve any of the good in his life. Yet his life was filled to overflowing with richness and blessings from God.
While we today are prone to cry out, “Why me?” when sorrow comes, Job provides the counterpoint by saying, “Why not me?”
Job says to me that all our days come from God’s hand, both the good days and the bad days. If we are ready to receive a good day, we must be ready to receive a bad day. They come from the same hand. The wise man, Solomon, put it in a very similar way when he wrote, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.”
Yes, God is good ALL the time. He knows what’s best for us and gives us what we need in every situation. My challenge is to be grateful and thankful even in the midst of the storm.