In Light of the Cross - Is God Good?
God is good. You've heard it said many times, haven't you? And when our circumstances are pleasing and all seems right with our world, "God is good!" is easy to say. To feel. To mean. Who doesn't enjoy life when things are as we want them to be? I've grown up hearing these words, but every now and then they rub me the wrong way. Sometimes it's my own jealous feelings that make me question - is God really good? Why did she get an answer to her prayer and I'm still waiting?
Oh faithless heart. How easy it is to lose sight of this simple attribute of God when the answer to my prayers is no. Or worse. Wait.
I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not alone in this.
God doesn’t seem quite so good to us when someone we love dies.
Or when our hopes are deferred.
Or when people let us down.
If I'd been one of the women who followed Jesus when He walked the earth, I might have questioned the goodness of God when I stood at the cross and watched how much He suffered. I can imagine I would have felt pretty desperate on that day before Resurrection Sunday.
Do you think the disciples felt like God had let them down?
Or guilty because they hadn't done a thing to stop the crucifixion?
Sometimes we blame God for things at the same time that we are also blaming ourselves. But then when we justify ourselves or realize why there was nothing we could have done, God seems like the only one left to blame even if He is not guilty.
In that moment, God doesn't seem good to us, does He?
All the former things we considered to be blessings of God – the beauty and wildness of nature, the wonder and complexity of birth, the excitement and joy of love, even the promise of eternal life for those who trust Him can seem less than when faced with trials and fear and strife.
When we are in between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, we are living in the shadow of a sealed tomb, and we are lost and scared and scarred by the unknown. By the pain of loss. By the doubt of joy to come.
But if God is good, isn’t He good even in the bad times? Does the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever change? Was God less good on that Saturday in between? Is God not as good in the shadows as He is in the light?
When I wrote Rebekah, this subject came up as I contemplated what Isaac went through at his binding – that time when his father Abraham, out of obedience to God, would have sacrificed his only son that he loved. A symbol of exactly what God did when He also sacrificed His Only Son Jesus. And while God never intended to allow Abraham to actually kill Isaac, He tested Abraham in that moment.
And the altar became the darkest place on earth.
Much as the sky above the cross grew black the day Christ died.
In light of the cross on that Saturday, God's ways were as dark to Jesus' disciples as they were to Abraham and Isaac before the angel spoke and stayed Abraham's hand.
As dark as the light before the dawn when the angel rolled the stone away from the tomb.
In the light of the new dawn it is easy to see that God is indeed good.
But that space between the light and the dark can seem the blackest. And the goodness of God is tested.
In Rebekah, I imagined Isaac giving words to these thoughts saying,
“God is good because He is. 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 hearing people only praise God’s goodness when things go their way sometimes rubs me wrong. It's because I rarely hear those same words spoken when things are darkest. Truth is, I rarely say them myself when I'm walking in the shadow of a sealed tomb. Or an unanswered prayer. Or a test of faith.
They say success is a truer test of faith than failure. “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.” (Proverbs 27:21) Hmm...Can we say, "God is good!" in the crucible? In the furnace?
Do we declare Him good when things don’t go as we’d planned?
If God is good, He is always good. Even if we don’t think so.
He is good…because He is.
May you see Him in the darkness as well as in the light. May you see Him in between when His goodness lies in the whispers, in the shadows. He hasn't left you. In light of the cross, He's just doing His greatest work in silence.
#livegrace #inlightofthecross #godisgood