Goodness of God

“God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.” ~popular church saying.

I’ve never been comfortable with direction from the pulpit instructing people in the congregation to “repeat after me”.  Maybe I’m a little rebellious, but it always seemed disingenuous to appropriate someone else’s sentiment for my own.

And I think there is danger in adopting pet phrases to explain God (as if He can be explained) and creating shorthand for concepts that require so much more discussion to even begin to understand.

In fact, I think these bumper sticker mantras and t-shirt worthy slogans often push genuine seekers to the fringe because they cannot embrace simplistic explanations for complex issues.

I admit that there are times they slip from my mouth.  I might be too lazy to engage with someone or too hurried to take time to really listen to their heart.

But in the wake of losing my son, I’ve become much more aware of how simply repeating one-liners falls so very short in meeting the needs of those around me.

“God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.”

When spoken to someone whose life is going well seems like a benediction, an affirmation–a confirmation that God’s seal of approval rests on them and results in physical blessing.

“God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.”

When spoken to someone whose world is crumbling sounds like a rebuke or reproof–adjust your attitude because it can’t really be as bad as all that!

I think we misunderstand God’s goodness in each case.

I want to think of God’s goodness in terms of concrete benefits that I can point to in the physical world.  I want  to see tidy endings to messy stories that wrap things up so I can wrap my mind around them. I like stories of miraculous healing, safety in the midst of storms, provision from out of nowhere.

But so many who love Jesus die.  And there are Christ followers around the world who starve and who have no place to lay their head.  Are they unfaithful?  Are they unworthy?

I am beginning to embrace the truth that I have no idea, really, of what “good” is when I try to  use the word to describe  God. I cannot limit God’s goodness to only what I can see, feel, taste or touch.

I am learning that “good”, when speaking of God, is higher and bigger and different than anything I know.  My mind is not capable of comprehending the goodness of God in all its aspects and manifestations.

I have experienced the faithfulness of God, the provision of God and the Presence of God in the midst of this pain-but I had also experienced those things before my son left us.

I do not see the “good” in burying my son.

But right now I walk in half-light, in shadows and in partial revelation.  I cannot wrap my ongoing experience in the shadow of the valley of death into a tidy chapter book with a happy ending.

And I refuse to adopt simple explanations of the mystery of this pain.

I am living the story, leaning on God, trusting in His character and waiting for His revelation of how this apparent defeat will ultimately be victorious.

So I trust the truth of Scripture that tells me goodness is the character of God. And I rest in my past experience that in Christ all God’s promises are “yes” and “amen”.

And I long desperately,like a drowning man gasping for air, for the day when I will know fully even as I am fully known.

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know andunderstand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]. I Corinthians 13:12 AMPC

 

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

12 thoughts on “Goodness of God”

  1. My independent nature (dare I also say rebellious?) always came to the forefront when asked to repeat or agree with what I thought were simplistic explanations about God. Now that I grieve for my son, I see that we know so little of purpose, meaning, goodness. Faith is not cause and effect. Faith is seeing in a mirror dimly, as you shared, Melanie. It is “I believe…help me in my unbelief.” It is laying it all before God in lament, as Job did, as the writers of many Psalms did. Recently I was convicted by how quickly I judge how other suffering mamas walk with God. I felt that I could not say I doubted, or was angry, or say that in the world stuff happens that is truly wrong. Instead of going to the Lord, I judged. Not okay, not my job. Your message resonates and reminds me that I cannot define good, I cannot find all the answers. Understanding will come, that is my hope as I stumble along. I just miss my son Jeff so terribly.

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  2. Thankyou for this even though I know God is good I can’t bring myself to say it and mean it. I have repeated it in church and felt fake its hard to see the good in the tragic losses we face .I do know that being able to share your heart with other broken hearts is good for all of us even though we wish it was different every day I see the good in your words one day everything will be good and well with our soul forever. we are waiting for that day . Thankyou for sharing with us ..

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    1. I think as long as I hold onto my human definition of “good” it’s hard for me to say the words because what He has allowed does not fit that (human) definition. But if I can help my heart admit that His definition of “good” is higher and better and oh, so different than mine, I can squeak them out. ❤

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  3. I really struggle with that phrase “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good” now since losing Blake. I don’t want to hear someone say that to me, or “God has a purpose for your pain”. And it makes me remember things I’ve said when people have lost loved ones. It has changed the way I speak to others most definitely who are living their worst nightmare. I love God, though I do not understand, but I do not want to hear those pat phrases.

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  4. Oh my! I do so much relate to all you said here! I, too, do not like to be told to do some kind of demonstrative show of “devotion” by a teacher or preacher! That is something that comes from the heart. Thank you for your faithfulness to write and share your heart! It helps so many of us to know that we all have a lot of the same feelings and reactions to things. God bless you!

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  5. Thank you for speaking right into my heart! I’ve been struggling with this lately after losing my 16yo son. “But right now I walk in half-light, in shadows and in partial revelation. I cannot wrap my ongoing experience in the shadow of the valley of death into a tidy chapter book with a happy ending” Melanie, this quote is excellent-we have the partial revelation like a veil that hasn’t been lifted but we can trust in God’s promises 💜

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  6. Haha Melanie, I too am a bit “rebellious” when told to repeat phrases or lift my hands or whatever. I sometimes do those things spontaneously, but not if I’m told. I think like you say, that I want it to be a genuine heart response, not just following someone else’s instructions.
    And yes, the “right” words at the “wrong” time are not helpful.

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  7. These simple biblical platitudes just don’t cut it for me. While I know that they are true, they aren’t necessarily salve for the wound at the moment. I had a friend tell me her husband was teaching through Ephesians at her church and he had hit the verse In ch. 5 that says to give thanks to God for all things. She said it doesn’t say IN all things, but FOR all things. I politely told her that, no, I am not thankful for my son’s suicide and to tell me that is just stupid. I realize over time that I need to be thankful to God regardless of my circumstances, but to be thankful for a suicide?? No, I’m pretty sure that’s not what God is saying. Geesh!

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