Is God good?
Have you ever heard someone exclaim "God is good!" If it's not said in a church setting, such as: "God is good...All the time," then it typically follows something wonderful happening. "God is good" can come from our mouths when we land a great job, see a long-sought prayer answered, receive a great test result, or even just happen to get a parking place close to the door. On a bad day, finding our lost car keys can cause such an exclamation of praise. And that's okay. It's actually a good thing! But sometimes, when we hear that phrase, "God is good!" because someone got something they wanted, it can rub us wrong, can't it? In fact, in some of us it can cause us to question why he or she got a great answer to their prayers and yet we are still waiting. Or we were told "no." God doesn't seem so good to us when someone we love dies. God doesn't seem good when hope is deferred. (Proverbs says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick.") There is nothing good in feeling sick at heart. Is there?
But take a look at the blessings of God - the beauty and wildness of nature to the wonder and complexity of birth to the promise of eternal life for those who trust Him - and we have reason to proclaim "God is good."
But isn’t He good even in the bad times? Does God change? The Bible says He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If that is the case, then God is good all the time – even in our darkest hours.
I explored this topic as I wrote Rebekah and contemplated what Isaac went through at his "binding" - that time when his father Abraham (out of obedience to God) would have sacrificed Isaac on the altar had not God intervened. There is a scene that just seemed to "be" as I envisioned Isaac and Ishmael talking after Abraham's death. In part, I imagined Isaac saying,
“God is good because He is,” Isaac said at last, drawing her attention back again. “He does not need a reason to do what He does, and He is not answerable to us when He chooses to test our faith. But we can see His goodness in the things He has made, in the very creation that surrounds us.”
Maybe that’s why only hearing people praise God's goodness when things go their way sometimes rubs me wrong. It’s not that I’m not happy for them or don’t share in their joy. But if He’d said “no”, would He still be good in their eyes?
They say that success is a truer test of faith than failure. And Proverbs 27:21 says, "The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise." Success brings out the nature of our attitudes toward the Lord. And it is good that we praise Him, when we declare Him "good" when He blesses us. But do we also declare Him good when things don’t go as we’d planned?
If God is good, He truly is always good. Even if we don't think so.
He is good...because He is.