Recently it seems like a disproportionate number of folks in my extended circle have encountered various kinds of adversity—illness, financial setbacks, relationship struggles, and personal challenges.
I don’t want to seem uncaring or matter-of-fact about my friends’ pain. Actually, that’s not what I want to write about.
What strikes me is our tendency to celebrate a desirable outcome by highlighting God’s goodness.
Cancer disappears? God is great! Found a job? Praise God! Kids are healthy? Isn’t God good?
Of course God is good in each of those wonderful situations. But what about those times when things aren’t all roses and sunshine? Where’s God’s goodness when Mom’s cancer spreads? What happened to this good God when a little girl is kidnapped and, despite the collective prayers of an entire community, her abused body is discovered several days later?
When something like that happens, did God stop being good?
As my good friend Clark Osborn correctly observes, “The goodness of God isn’t measured by our circumstances.”
A year ago, Rich’s Ride reached New Orleans. That finish line represented more than the completion of a 1500-mile journey. It represented the culmination of a twenty-five year story of God’s faithfulness. If there was ever a day to proclaim, “God is good!” that was such a day.
But my mind goes back to the December morning in 1987 when I fell from a roof and shattered three vertebrae in my neck. I got out of bed as a relatively healthy mid-thirties guy who planned to referee a high school basketball game that evening. I fell asleep—sort of—paralyzed below my chest.
And God was good on that day as well. God was good as Jesus stood beside me and wept with me. God was, is, and always will be good.
Of course we ought to proclaim God’s incredible goodness in times of blessing and celebration.
But let’s be careful not to perceive God’s eternal, unchanging goodness through the lens of our limited worldly circumstances.
God IS good. Period.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33