A Good God = A Good Life
Note: This week I have been working toward a deadline for a book titled, The Prayer God Loves to Answer – Accessing Christ’s Wisdom for Your Deepest Needs. (For more information, CLICK HERE.) One chapter explains how we can receive the “wisdom from above” that is “full of good fruits” (James 3:17). I wanted to share a few thoughts I enjoyed this week as I wrote.
In the next few days, tune in to the common and often confusing use of the word “good” as it is employed in conversations, news stories, and modern-day culture. In all likelihood, you will hear references like:
- “It’s all good!”
- “That was a good movie.”
- “She’s a good woman.”
- “The weather looks good.”
- “Good game, son!”
- “He’s good looking.”
- “The food was good.”
- “It’s good that you were here.”
- “He’s a good preacher.”
- “I feel good about it.”
- “Sounds good.”
- “There was a good crowd.”
- “This will be good for you.”
- “They had a good selection.”
- “Oh my goodness!”
- “Good golly, Miss Molly!”
Of course, the interpretation of these phrases can yield a convoluted and even confusing understanding of goodness. Just to prove the point, look over each phrase and try to figure exactly what is meant by the word “good.” These common expressions (and there are MANY others) remind us of the subjective nature of the word. What is “good” to one person might seem bad to another or mediocre to yet another. As one example of the diverse meanings, The Reader’s Digest Complete Oxford Word Finder devotes a full page of very fine print to various definitions of “good.”
Jesus stated, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18). We know that no one is righteous, not even one, and all have sinned (Romans 3:10, 23). God alone is good and the source of all goodness.
A.W. Pink explains that the goodness of God refers to the perfection of His nature and that nothing is lacking in it or defective in it, and nothing can be added to it to make it better.[i] Puritan writer Thomas Manton states, “He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself; the creature’s goodness is but a drop; but in God there is an infinite ocean and sea, or gathering together of goodness.”[ii]
The Bible encourages us to consider the goodness of God (Romans 11:22). In doing so, we are captured by countless verses and examples. We can be encouraged to know that “wisdom from above” is abundant and good beyond imagination.
Psalm 119:68 declares, “You are good and do good.” God has “laid up” goodness for those who trust Him (Psalm 31:19). Psalm 52:1 says, “The goodness of God endures continually.” It is as eternal as God is and will never stop. God crowns our years with goodness (Psalm 65:11) and fills our journey with so much blessing. Beyond the tangible provisions of life, “God fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9).
Certainly, bad things happen in all of our lives. We suffer losses, go through disappointments, experience failures, and endure hurts. However, God’s abundant, constant, and sometimes imperceptible goodness transcends it all. Our responsibility is to trust Him even when we don’t see the way, follow Him even when we don’t know the way, and seek Him until He shows us the way. We do this with the firm conviction that He is absolutely, reliably good. And, He produces good in and through us for His glory.
Whatever our perceptions of our circumstances in life, we can anchor our souls in knowing “the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8)
Goodness in the “Bad” Times
Perhaps you’ve read of George Mueller, a man of great faith and prayer who lived in Bristol, England in the late 1800s. Through his orphanages he cared for over 10,000 children and the schools he established educated over 120,000 students. He faced serious tests to his faith in the goodness of God. One occurred when the Muellers’ only child, Lydia, almost died of typhoid fever in 1853. In February 1870 George’s wife, Mary, died of rheumatic fever. They had been married for over thirty-nine years. After her death, Mueller preached a “funeral sermon” from Psalm 119:68, which says, “You are good, and do good.” The three points of his message declared:
1. The Lord was good, and did good, in giving her to me.
2. The Lord was good, and did good, in so long leaving her to me.
3. The Lord was good, and did good, in taking her from me. [iii]
In the days to follow as Mueller processed the loss, he continually chose to point to the goodness of God. His recorded prayer stated, “Thou wilt do the very best thing for her and for me, whether life or death… Howsoever Thou dealest with me, only help me to continue to be perfectly satisfied with Thy holy will.” [iv] Speaking later of his wife’s death he exclaimed, “God Himself has done it; we are satisfied in Him.” [v] Nahum 1:7 assures us, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”
Trusting God’s Goodness
A dear pastor friend of mine, Sandy Robertson, shared his heart with me recently. Even though he and his wife Beth lost a daughter in the prime of her life to cancer, they embraced God’s goodness. Beth has endured her own battles with cancer – surgery, chemo, and radiation. Their other daughter, Brianne, has also fought cancer. Still, they hold firmly to the goodness of God, trusting His love. He told me, “It’s not always easy – but it is all we have and everything we need. Where else would we go and what else would we do if we did not anchor our soul in God’s goodness?”
Not long ago, I visited with Sandy and some pastors from his area. As he and I drove together afterward, he recounted the following story that beautifully illustrates our need to trust the goodness and love of our God:
I live on the Space Coast of Central Florida, about 40 miles east of Orlando. One day my wife and I decided to surprise our eight-year-old granddaughter Alexa with a trip to Disney World. It was a national holiday and the schools were closed, so we picked her up early in the morning and off we went. She had no idea what we had planned. She thought it was going to be a day just hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa.
Our first stop was McDonald’s. We grabbed three Egg McMuffins at the drive-thru and then continued on our journey. Well, it just so happened that this McDonald’s had a “Playland” attached to it. When Alexa saw that, she got excited and asked, “Grandpa, can we eat inside? I want to play.”
“No, sweetheart,” I replied. “We don’t have time for that.”
She then turned up the heat. “Please Grandpa; I really want to go inside. I hardly ever get to come here. C’mon Grandpa, why can’t we eat inside? We’ve got time.”
“Sorry, Alexa, the answer is no. We are doing the drive-thru.”
Alexa was not a happy camper and as expected, she fussed. She complained and then accused me of not letting her have any fun. That was followed by pouting and the silent treatment for the next half hour. We continued on our journey westward and at the appropriate moment, my wife declared, “Pull off somewhere, I need to find a restroom.”
To this I replied, “Look, there’s the sign for Disney World! I’ll pull off here. They’ll have public restrooms at Disney World.”
As you can imagine, the wheels began to turn in Alexa’s little brain. Then out came this sheepish voice from the back seat, “Grandpa, now that we are here at Disney World, do you think maybe we could go inside?”
“Of course we are going to go inside, Alexa. Grandma and I had this planned right from the beginning. But if you had had your way, you would have settled for McDonald’s Playland.”
What a memorable day we had together. We returned home that night exhausted and satisfied.
God is good. He is secretly planning in love and goodness for all of us. Don’t be an Alexa. Don’t settle for McDonald’s Playland when God has Disney World in mind!
Copyright © 2016 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.
[i] Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975) 57
[iii] George Mueller, Autobiography of George Mueller, Compiled by G. Fred. Bergin (London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1906) 431
[iv] Ibid 442
[v] Ibid. 440