We see the announcement of a pregnancy, and we rejoice. “God is so good!”
God hears our prayers and a job opportunity arrives and we rejoice. “God is so good!”
We recover from the disease. We heal from the surgery. A care package arrives and we rejoice. “God is so good!”
He is good to us, isn’t he? We see the sun and the moon and the stars and we rejoice. We taste the apricot and the wine and the olive oil and we say, “God is so good!”
But what happens when you are on hour number eight- again – in the Emergency Room, fully expecting, “All your tests were normal. Follow up with your regular doctor tomorrow.”
What happens when the specialist that your wife REALLY needs to see as soon as possible can possibly squeeze you in in October?
What happens when you spend year after year watching the one that you love suffer so much and there is nothing anyone can do about it?
What happens when your friend is dying from cancer?
Is God still good then?
Is God still good when the baby is born blind?
Is God still good when your children turn their backs on God?
Is God still good when your friends are suffering and you can’t help at all?
When you are outside the wall of the best health care in the world but you can’t get access?
Is God still good then?
And all you can say is “Lord, save me!” and you know above all that God is good.
It goes deeper than “he has a plan”. That too often just seems trite.
I think it is more like silver in a furnace. Like a launderer’s soap.
Even then, though – that doesn’t really speak of the goodness of God.
What language shall I borrow? What words can I stammer? When “Lord save me” doesn’t quite cover everything, what else can I say?
And yet, there he is. In the bottom of the well. In the depths where I cry. There he is, because he is good.
And if I didn’t spend hour after hour in the emergency room, if I we didn’t suffer together, we wouldn’t have seen it. We would have thought that the goodness of God is the same as oil and wine and bread and new babies.
They are great gifts of God. But they are not God. And when we suffer in the depths, that is where we most often meet him.
He is there when the dross is burning away, where the last remnants of self-help and our arrogant pride and self-assurance are being burned away in the fire, when we are exhausted from the race, and just want to throw in the towel….there he is.
In the valley of the shadow of death. He takes us through because he knows it is the only way to the green pastures.
2 responses to “Is God still Good?”
Dear Mr. Powell,
It’s a nearly unheard-of moment when I reply to a blog post. THANK You for this wise list of oft-needed query-reminders that I will revisit often. And yes, God is still good…even when the one responsible for your brain injury divorces you, as you’re no longer able to work (while he also tries to steal your farm in the process). Living in perpetual exhaustion and pain. Unable to tolerate noise and light, or sustain job performance and focus, yet deemed ‘not quite disabled enough’ for disability income. Irony alert: 12+ year job I loved was working in behind-the-scenes support role at a nonprofit serving people with cognitive & developmental disabilities. Still, counting my life as one example of God’s massive goodness shining so brightly in the long, long darkness. Still here, still praising in the storm.
Joy and grace to you and yours, Deelight Galatians 2:20 “Death doesn’t have the last word. Resurrection does.”
~ John Blase
Pastor is one of the best writers because he almost always offers something a little different but far more impactful than what I am used to.
“It goes deeper than “he has a plan”. That too often just seems trite…What language shall I borrow? What words can I stammer? When “Lord save me” doesn’t quite cover everything, what else can I say?”
For some reason, the lyrics to the song “Hold me Now” came to mind. Perhaps because I often cry out to Him based on Colossians 1:17: “in Him all things hold together.” Lord, save me doesn’t quite cut it, but Lord, hold me together, hold me now, covers the need quite well. Without You, I will fall apart, crumble away.
The lyrics of the entire song strike deep chords that often describe my heart’s cry to Him when I either doubt or am desperate to believe in or be reassured of His never ending, never changing goodness.
The song is about a couple struggling to reignite and rediscover their once solid and stable love for on another; a love that started off with good times and good memories, but is now fraught with tension and trials. No relationship between human beings can adequately describe our relationship with Him, IMO. But when embroiled in certain trials, I struggle to recall and recapture the “joy of my salvation” that seems so far away, a distant memory.
When the lyric states: “An image of you and of me and we’re laughing, we’re loving it all” I’ll recall the kind of “good times, isn’t He good” that Pastor describes at the start of this post.
Then it goes to say “But look at our life now. All tattered and torn….Both of us searching for some perfect world we know we’ll never find. So perhaps I should leave here. Yeah, yeah, and go far away. But you know that there’s nowhere that I’d rather be than with you here today.”
Who hasn’t at one point entertained the thought of walking away from Him? Even and especially when your life is laden with trials? There’s no such thing as a perfect world (the Bible is clear on that), but perhaps I never took that to heart. So I kept anticipating a perfection that He never promised, but I expected. But He DOES promise to never leave nor forsake us. Conclusion: Father, stay with me. I don’t want to leave You. Today has enough troubles of its own (Matthew 6:34) and today, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
“You ask if I love you. Well, what can I say? You know that I do and if this is just one of those games that we play. So I’ll sing you a new song. Please don’t cry anymore. I’ll even ask your forgiveness, Though I don’t know just what I’m asking it for.” I constantly ask Him if He still loves me when I am suffering, or I state it as a fact even if I am struggling to believe it. What CAN He say? His Word is clear: He loves us, never stopped and never will.
But sometimes I think He is answering me with: I’ll sing you a new song, please don’t cry anymore: His love for us often reveals itself in new and unexpected ways. Sorrow and sighing may endure but it WILL eventually end, right? Our tears are not lost on Him: one day He will wipe away all our tears; He even saves them in a bottle!
Who hasn’t entertained the thought that He is punishing you for something you did wrong when suffering occurs? I find myself asking Him for forgiveness even though I don’t even know if I’ve done anything wrong.
It is THESE lyrics that mean the most to me:
“Hold me now, whoa
(Hold me in your loving arms)
Warm my heart
(Warm my cold and tired heart)
Stay with me
(Stay with me)”
I’m not a HUGE touchy feely person, but I think everyone craves a measure of attention and affection when they need it the most. Recently I recall begging Him to hold me in His arms, even though I won’t experience the same exact sensations when a flesh and blood human being holds me.
You want to experience the reality of His love even if you cannot exactly experience the reality of His arms. At the heart of that need is an assurance, a reassurance that He is good, His goodness is really good, and His goodness is not only too good to be true, it IS the truth!