I know, I know. If you’ve grown up in church, you know the deal. “God is Good” is meant to be followed up with “All the Time.”
We say it a lot, almost habitually. And yet… I think we sometimes forget what that means, what hope it gives, and why it matters (all the time 😉 ).
This weekend we said goodbye to my Uncle who we lost back in November to Covid. I shared about it on my social channels, but, the service was especially touching. My cousin shared a eulogy, that was centered around God’s goodness and grace, and how many of us got to see that through my Uncle’s life – the good times and the bad.
For us in our little family unit, it’s something that – admittedly – we may have overlooked a bit in recent months. While in the early phases of the pandemic we were, honestly, pretty unaffected, since November, it’s been a lot. We lost my uncle. We grieved the loss of a dear friend’s son and walked (and still walk) in the “new” normal that has followed. My aunt is nearing the end of a grueling battle with early onset dementia that has brought pain and suffering to a new level. We’ve watched my father’s health change in ways that are not exciting, with fewer answers than we could hope for. There have been developments on the family side of our lives that haven’t been as easy to share. To be super super real: it’s been dark.
I’m not someone who dwells on darkness. If there’s a silver lining to be found (and maybe even when there isn’t one), I’ll generally find it. And yet, in this season, it’s hard and far-reaching. The tension in our house sometimes feels palpable. Our tempers run shorter. Our patience feels depleted. Forward motion is hard.
And yet. The truth still stands: God. Is. Good. All. The. Time.
So – How do we see it? How do we focus on this and allow it to change our hearts when we just can’t reckon with that goodness when the darkness feels like it’s closing in?
We Focus on it as Truth and Truth Alone.
We can only do this when scripture is central to our lives.
If we believe that God is who he says he is, that he’s the creator of everything we know and don’t know, and that scripture is God-breathed and inspired, then the words in the Bible are true. Whether we feel them or not, we must decide whether we believe the words in God’s word are true, and if we believe God is who he tells us he is.
If we believe this, than, we must trust that his goodness – proclaimed time and time again in scripture – is true.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I would have rationalized things differently. But you know what? I’m a fallen human. I’m far from all-knowing. I fall short every single day.
Our God though? He created the universe. He set time itself in motion. He is infallible. He is complete holiness and completely love all at once. He is the only one with the qualities required to be a fair, righteous judge. So when I compare my own credentials with his, I have literally nothing to stand on. This means that even if I cannot “feel” his goodness in the darkness, it really doesn’t matter. In his word we are told he is good, and that makes it true… no gray areas, no “my feelings tell me otherwise.”
Our God is good, end point.
We Look for the Good We Can Understand
I promise, I’m not going to stand here and tell you that you should force happiness whether you feel it or not. I’m also not going to tell you that a great sunrise makes up for the loss of a loved one or whatever low you’re facing today.
But, I am going to tell you, that when we search for God’s fingerprints, we will find them… which helps enforce the previous point.
Our God gives us glimpses of his goodness everywhere. He’s left his fingerprints and creation all around us… and while it should point us to him, it can also help us see him in the dark.
Last week we spent the week at the beach as a family. I woke up daily (as I have since childhood) to walk the beach and watch the sunrise. To me, this has always settled my heart and helped me look upward.
But even if you don’t have a beach to walk, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Sometimes we see glimpses of God’s goodness in deep conversations with friends that lift us up, in moments where we watch our kids feel complete joy in vrooming around the floor with a matchbox firetruck, in seeing one of our tiny, menial flowers produce a beautifully perfect bloom in an unlikely situation… or in any other place where there is goodness.
See, scripture tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above. There is nothing in this world – nothing – that is good that has not come from him. This means that that simple little piece of joy that allows our spirits to lift – even for a second – is from God himself. What a gift!
We Look Forward
CS Lewis has a quote that has always resonated with me:
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
I’m pretty good – even in the best of seasons – of longing for things: for vacations, escapes, new adventures, new homes… you name it, I’ve wanted it. And yet, when I achieve or receive these things, I quickly find myself longing again. I’m not sure I can name a season in my life where I’ve truly felt content if I’m being brutally honest.
When I catch myself in that cycle – especially when the lack of contentedness is coming from heartbreak or loss, I think of this quote.
As believers, we have to believe this, it’s fundamental to the Christian walk. We were never meant to live for this world, for what it provides, and for what we can achieve here.
Does God give us gifts to steward here? Absolutely. Are we meant to just sit around and hope for a better future? No. We are supposed to take what he has given us and use those qualities, traits, and blessings to point others to him. We are supposed to love those he’s placed in our path and run full speed toward him, completing whatever he calls us to along the way.
When darkness leads to discomfort and unrest and heartbreak, we must focus on this: we weren’t meant to stay in it. Our home isn’t here. This life is temporary, which means the darkness is too (remember, in God, there is NO darkness). Once again: this is nothing short of amazing hope that we must grasp with everything we’ve got.
Putting it All in Action
When we combine these features, we’re better able to see God’s goodness (whether we momentarily feel it or not), we’re able to live in it, and we’re able to carry the hope that it brings us forward.
In the darkness we feel, God’s light is still there. It’s not absent, regardless of what our emotions tell us and what we can see. His hope is eternal and his mercies are new every morning. Are we living as though this is true? Are we shining the light he’s placed in us to others, even in darkness?
Even in the hard, the hurt, the pain, this truth remains: God is good, all the time.