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This year has been painful for many of us. Because of Covid-19, we haven’t seen loved ones for months because they live far away. Travel is risky for older folks because of their vulnerability to the disease. We keep praying for it to go away, and it just won’t! The flu at least ends after a few months. This thing is persistent and wicked. This pain is affecting our lives in new and challenging ways.
I was in a Bible study recently talking about how pain affects our lives and our perspective of God’s goodness to us. We were studying the Mark 5:21-43 accounts of the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years and the father named Jairus who needed Jesus to heal his 12-year-old daughter. Our discussion question was, “Describe any of your own painful circumstances that have driven you to Christ. What did you learn about His faithfulness through that experience?” As each woman shared her own story, it was obvious that some could recognize God’s goodness to her in the time but others were still struggling with God’s goodness because the pain hasn’t gone away or been resolved to their satisfaction.
Most of us don’t like to wait for God to work. And, we certainly don’t like a “No” answer! Be. Honest. Here. We say to each other, “God is good all the time,” but do we really believe it?
God is good all the time.
Where did we get the idea that God is good all the time? Not just some of the time. Seriously.
This is what the Bible says in Psalm 119:68,
“You [God] are good, and what you do is good.” (Psalm 119:68 NIRV)
The Bible says that everything about God is good—He is good in Himself, and what He does is good. That means God allows nothing to happen to His children—to those who love Him—that is not for their good. God gives to His children only that which is good. God is good all the time, and He is at work in our lives for good.
We even quote a Bible verse about God working all things in our lives for our good.
“And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
But, you might ask, what about the tough things that happen to us? Someone gets very sick, loses a job, or has to move far away to another town. Is God being good then? What must be the answer to that question? YES! Why? Because God is good all the time.
Over the years, I’ve learned through personal Bible study and my faith walk that God’s goodness has three aspects that apply to our times of fear and pain. 1) He is good even in the tough times; 2) He is good in different ways to each of us, and 3) He is good in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives. Let’s look at each of those.
God is good even in the tough times.
God is the perfect parent and knows what it will help His children grow into maturity. That sometimes includes pain. Isn’t that true regarding human children? Growing up can be trying just in the facing of new things while getting used to the old. Teething hurts, but babies must go through teething to get some teeth to chew real food. The same thing is true of learning to walk or ride a bike. What about adolescence? A long…painful…but necessary time of gaining independence. Coddling prevents growing up.
God teaches His children through tough things He allows in our lives that help us grow up. Those tough times build bones and teeth in our faith. They help us learn to trust God. They help us learn to give up trying to do things our own way—which may not be the best way—and start doing things God’s way—which is always the best way. ANYTHING that draws us closer to God and makes us depend upon Him is good for us.
God is good in different ways to each of us.
Through reading the Bible, I’ve seen that God’s goodness looks different in each person’s life.
- In the book of Ruth, Naomi and her family were starving so they moved to Moab to get bread. There they met Ruth. Ruth didn’t need bread; she needed God. Naomi shared God with Ruth. Different needs met by God’s goodness. God’s goodness will definitely look different in my life than it does in your life.
- In Acts, Paul and his friends were traveling so they needed a place to stay in Philippi. There, they met Lydia. Lydia didn’t need a place to stay. She needed God. Paul shared God with Lydia; Lydia shared her home with Paul and his friends. Different needs met by God’s goodness.
God is good in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives.
Not everyone gets cancer, has a serious injury, endures long-term unemployment, loses a child or experiences the desertion of a spouse. Throughout the Bible are many verses stating how God healed someone or protected someone in a dangerous situation. We don’t even know all the dangers God is protecting us from daily! We should thank Him all the time for doing that.
You can trust His goodness in addressing your pain.
You can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do in your life. This is the sticky part, isn’t it? I have an idea of what I think His goodness to me should look like! We are all good at praying solutions to whatever is challenging us. “Would that be a good idea, God?”
Do you believe that God has the right to choose what He brings into your life? Do I? I know God is good. I must choose to trust His choice of how to be good to me. Remember this verse you probably memorized at some point in your life?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
The day before my dearest friend died of breast cancer, she softly spoke to me these words, “God is good.” I finished her sentence with “all the time” because I had heard her say that repeatedly. She replied, “I don’t understand all of this.” And, most of the time, we just don’t understand. But, we’ve got to bank on God’s goodness and trust His choosing. That’s dependent living.
Human parents raise their children to be less dependent and more independent as they grow up. God raises His children to be less independent of Him and more dependent on Him as they grow up to maturity. Anything that teaches us how to depend on Him is good for us.
Dear sweet friends, we have a big God. Yet, God may not choose to rescue you from everything that is threatening you. Or, from poor decisions made by you or someone close to you. You may face what seem like insurmountable circumstances in your life. You may have to give up something that gives you security. You may be waiting for God to answer a desperate prayer. But, in any and all situations, even in the waiting, you can count on the fact that God is good all the time.
That’s how we move through our pain in a trusting faith walk with our good God.
The God-Dependent Woman Bible Study (read online)
The God-Dependent Woman Bible Study (download pdf)
Everyday Women Bible Study of Old Testament Women (read online)
Everyday Women Bible Study of Old Testament Women (download pdf)
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