“He didn’t heal my daughter, God is so good, even in this.”
I’m sure you’ve not heard that phrase posted on many a facebook status. No, we are great (I am great) at declaring God’s goodness when He does something for us, when he shows up in the way we had prayed and hoped. When He provides, when He heals. I heard a story of a man who was reading his Bible on a train when it crashed and killed many. He told a reporter “ I don’t know why I didn’t die, why I’m still alive… God is so good.” While I do not disagree with his statement, nor do I think we shouldn’t declare God’s goodness when He spares our life, heals, provides. I just couldn’t help but think of the questions that may appear on the hearts of all the families who did lose someone on that train, the families who know God and those who didn’t “Was God then not being good to them, to us?” I felt this question stirring in my heart as I listened to a story of a family whose son was all but declared dead and as they prayed over his lifeless body… he began to breath, his life had been restored. And they sat and spoke with deep power and conviction of God’s healing power, His goodness. Part of me wished they would have added “But He is our healer, He is powerful, He is good regardless of whether He had given life to our son.” Observing their faith as they spoke, I’m confident they would have said that, though through tear stained eyes if the outcome would’ve been different.
But these stories, and many others over the months since Sophie’s death and as I’ve wrestled with all the prayers we prayed in faith for her healing, have stirred in me a deeper passion for when and how we speak of God’s goodness. My heart has become more sensitive to when people declare God’s goodness and when they don’t. Do we do the watching world a disservice, giving them an unintentional brazenly inaccurate view of who our God is when we plaster all over social media, in conversation, His goodness only when life has gone the way we had prayed, the way we had hoped? Even if we believe He is good in the good AND in the pain, do people see that? Somehow are we defining God’s goodness as what He does, not by who He is in the way we speak? I don’t know about you, but the stories of faith I am drawn to are the ones where a person declares their trust in God, their belief in His goodness apart from their circumstances. Something about those stories are compelling, are transformational, they remind me there is a bigger story being written by a God who is more worthy of my praise than I could even dream. And ultimately, that’s the God I’m drawn to know more of. It reminds me of what a woman wrote to me as she read our story with Sophie… “Your God is astounding”. Yes! He is, do you see it in my life, in the way I speak? Can people see it in your life, in the way you speak? Yes, His “Astoundingness” is seen in the outwardly miraculous, but it is also seen when His power shows up IN THE MIDST of heartache, of sorrow… when there is no explanation for your response to life’s trial except to ask “Who is your God, that you can respond like this?” Now, don’t for a second think that I wouldn’t be plastering and declaring all over if God had healed Sophie “God is so good, He healed my daughter!”. I would. “We have this hope as an anchor for our soul.” Hebrews 6:19 An anchor when he heals and an anchor when He doesn’t. A God who is good when His miraculous power shows up in mighty ways on the mountaintop, a God who is good when His power shows up in the storm, and a God who is good when His power shows up in the stillness and you simply know He is there in the midst of your pain. Though we may say it through a whisper, instead of a shout, through tear stained eyes instead of overflowing joy… Let us not stop declaring His goodness even when life looks anything but good…
“I’m still looking for a job, and don’t know how I’m going to pay my next bill. Still God is so good.”
“The cancer came back. Still God is so good.”
“I buried my firstborn. God is so good”
“I prayed He would physically heal my daughter, He did not. Still God is so good.”
As I wrestle with God’s goodness and even feel an uncomfortable twinge in my soul of “how dare I write of God’s goodness next to such painful realities for many”, the thing God continues to take me back to is the cross.
Jesus, God in the form of man came down to this earth
To pay the penalty for my sin
The penalty I could not pay
To give me the LIFE
I didn’t deserve
This is His love. This is His goodness to me.
The question of His goodness is settled on the cross. When I say “God where are you, are you good?” What answer am I wanting that could be greater than “I am here, I came down to you, I paid the price for the ultimate pain and devastation that sin left on your heart so that you could be free, so that you could have life, so that you could experience the kind of healing and restoration that is more than just physical, but spiritual, a restoration of relationship with me, the King of Kings and a redemption of ALL things broken” It is enough. Or is it?
There is a song that is sung during the Passover meal coming up in just over a month, “Dayenu”. It means “It would have been enough”. It is line upon line of the Jewish people declaring the things God has done for them followed by the line “It would have been enough” after each one of them. Declaring “God if you had just shown your goodness in this one thing, it would have been enough” Instead they go on and on because God in His divine goodness and grace showed up over and over to them. Is it enough? God is the definition of good. Even if He never once did what we deemed good in our lives it would not change His character, His goodness. Paige Benton writes in one of my favorite articles “Singled out for Good” (google it!):
“Can God be any less good to me on the average Tuesday morning than He was on that monumental Friday afternoon when He hung on a cross in my place? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me tomorrow either, because God cannot be less good to me. His goodness is not the effect of his disposition but the essence of his person—not an attitude but an attribute.”
I was just reading in Exodus 19 where Moses says to God “Please show me your glory” and God responds saying “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’.” “All my goodness” literally, all my abundance, all my splendor, all my riches, all my reputation… and what did God do to show him this? He did not then proceed to give Moses anything, but Himself. He allowed Moses to see HIM. All His goodness… was HIMSELF. And yet, He still promises goodness TO us…. goodness in the sending of Himself in the form of Jesus to pay for our sins, and goodness in countless other ways that He shows up in our lives.
“Paul said he rejoiced in his afflictions. Why? Because he understood the gospel, the good news that eclipses all else – Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem it, to extend his transforming grace and accomplish, without failure, his sovereign and loving purposes in the lives of his beloved children, for his eternal glory and our eternal good.” -Randy Alcorn in 90 Days of God’s Goodness
It is my prayer that everytime I question His goodness, I would look to the cross and say “It is enough” and declare more boldly in whatever comes my way “God is so good”, not ignoring my reality but recognizing the truth of who God is IN my reality. Because His goodness is not defined or even enhanced by my circumstances. He is simply good. I’m a mother without a child to hold because God is so good to me. Today, this is His goodness to me though I don’t understand it and I don’t “feel” that it is good, but my definition of goodness does not have the eternal wisdom of God attached to it. I do not know the ways He is working out for good “all things” including this in my life in the eternal story He is writing, I just know He is. (Romans 8:28) What if, as believers, we showed the world that we believe His ultimate goodness is just so incredibly good that come joy or pain we will declare “My God is so good”. That people would wonder “Who is this God they serve? What goodness could He bring into their lives that their circumstance doesn’t change their declaration of His power, His goodness, His grace?”
“This side of heaven God didn’t heal my daughter. God is so good.”