I confess, this is a question I struggle with and sometimes it is hard. I mean, academically, I know the answer is yes, of course God is good. But we don’t live in a world of academic rhetoric; our world is practical. And from a practical point of view, it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the academic “God is good” with the experience of my daily struggles.
Last night I was replacing the hardware in our guest room toilet. If you’ve never done this, you may not know that many of the black rubber gaskets will “bleed” when they’ve been wet for many years. So, I’ve completely removed the old hardware and the tank and I’m ready to start putting the new hardware into place. As I start reading the directions, I realize (quickly) that I do not have my reading glasses. I also realize that my hands are covered with black gasket smears. I call my wife and she brings my glasses and puts them on for me. She even adjusts them down the bridge of my nose so I can read with them but they don’t blur my vision while I work.
She was good to me and helped me.
This is our definition of good. It is ingrained so deeply in us that we probably don’t even think about it. Someone or something is good when it makes my life easier or simpler or when it provides me with immediate positive results. My boss, sending me home for the day early, is good. My burger tastes delicious and fills my hunger. It is good. When I sit down after getting home at the end of the day, I am able to relax and rest my tired body. It is good to sit down.
But we also recognize and can acknowledge “good” in another sense even if we may not speak of it that way. When I’m done at the gym and I’m sweaty and sore and ready for a shower and bed, I know I’ve had a “good” workout. My workout didn’t make my life easier or simpler. It hasn’t provided me with immediate positive results (I wish). But I still know it was good, even if I feel worse for it. Eventually it will manifest in good ways in my life, even if I feel miserable during and after the work out.
God’s good is often this way. We don’t always see the immediate result of the difficult events of our life. We don’t always understand why a sovereign God would allow things in our life that do not make life simpler or easier. In fact, if the truth is told, we often experience circumstances in our life that bring us right back to the question we started with, “Is God good?” After all, how could a God who is sovereign and claims to love me allow this (whatever this is) happen to me?
Cleaning up my inbox this morning, I came across Wendy’s blog. Although I’m not a woman, I read and have learned much from Wendy. Today is no exception. “God’s good is a counterintuitive good from our earthly perspective, but it is the best kind of good.” God’s good takes a long view, and, as Wendy points out, that view is through Jesus. I’m reminded of what the author of Hebrews tells us about Jesus. “… Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus set a perfect example for us of enduring the difficult things we face, knowing that the goodness of God will bring us to joy and peace when it is complete.
But Jesus isn’t only the example of how to view God’s goodness, He is the very embodiment of the goodness of God. God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Through Jesus we have been reconciled to God and now, with Jesus we experience all the goodness that God has to offer. It isn’t always immediate, tangible goodness that makes our life simpler or easier. But it is true goodness that results in peace with God and eventually in joy beyond measure.