A friend recently posed this question to me, “Why do you believe that God is still good after all you have been through?” I would say the bigger question for me is, do I really believe God is good? I believe in God, that He’s loving and all powerful, merciful, just, caring…but good? Why is that so hard for me to grasp. There was a song that came out when I was going through a hard time called “Good, Good Father”. I couldn’t even sing the words, because in my heart if He was a good Father He wouldn’t have allowed this. Matthew 7:11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.” Look at my life, abusive childhood, Ehlers-Danlos, my daughter was molested, my son has my same genetic disorder, my brother committed suicide, two of my sister’s and one of my brother’s are estranged from me, forgive me if I don’t qualify these as good gifts. And there are a lot of people with lives way worse than mine.
Good…what does that word even mean? According to Webster’s dictionary the top three definitions are,
“of a favorable character or tendency”
I think when we think about good we think of it like, “That coffee was good.” It made me happy, tasted delicious, and kept me from falling asleep during work. But if you look at the definitions that’s not really what it means. Yes, coffee is profitable and advantageous, and it suitable to keep me awake and makes me of more favorable character, but that’s not what we mean when we say good. This is where my struggle with saying God is good comes in to play. When I hear “good” I think of something pleasing right now. Something that brings happiness. But if I apply the actual meaning of the word, I know novel idea, would that change my perspective of God being good?
If you look up the word good in the Bible you’ll be shocked at how many times it’s used, so I’m not going to even address them all. I wanted to pick on two that I feel are the most used. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and to those who are called according His purpose.” Forgive me cause I’m going to geek out here for a moment. I want to explore some of the Greek definitions for some of these words.
Work together – the Greek word is synergeo, it’s where we get our word synergy. It means to put forth power together with and thereby to assist.
Good means useful, excellent, upright.
So another words everything we encounter whether “good” or bad God is putting forth power to make it useful, to create something excellent, if we love Him and for His purpose, not mine.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Joseph. If you don’t know it I’ll briefly recap. Joseph is a spoiled brat and his father’s favorite son out of all 11 boys. His brothers despise him so they plot to kill him but then decided to sell him into slavery instead. And you thought your family had issues. He’s taken away to Egypt and is slaving away when the owner’s wife tries to sleep with him. He refuses and as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished, she accuses him of raping her and he gets sent to jail. Joseph sat and rotted in jail for two years before a series of events put him in the palace second in command to the Pharaoh, and single handed saved the nation of Egypt and the surrounding areas from a massive famine. (You can read the whole story in Genesis 39-45.) What does all this have to do with good? When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt seeking grain, Joseph’s reply to them was “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me: but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Being sold into slavery, torn away from all family and dropped into a very different culture, being wrongfully imprisoned, all of that God meant for good? Had Joseph not been in the right place at the right time hundreds of thousands of people would have starved, including his family. Joseph was able to see the bigger picture and realize that God had used what appeared to be evil to accomplish His will. Just like He did at the cross. The ultimate evil, torture and murder of a completely innocent man, was meant for good because it gave us the ability to have eternal life, the ultimate good. I think a lot of times we try to look at life through a right here right now perspective. Another words, I don’t think that Joseph while he was bound and drug away to Egypt was like, “Wow! This is amazing! God is going to do something wonderful, I can just feel it!” I’m guessing if he was anything like me, he was probably questioning and arguing with God on what was happing to him. Sometimes what looks good for us ends up being bad and other times what we perceive as bad ends up being a blessing in disguise.
Here’s a story our pastor told a few years back that I find so powerful and I’ve referenced multiple times in my kids and my life.
A farmer and his son had a beloved horse who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbours exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “It’s too early to tell.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild horses back to the farm as well. The neighbours shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “It’s too early to tell.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the horses and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The neighbours cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “It’s too early to tell.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg. The neighbours shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “It’s too early to tell.”
How many times in my life have I raged and fought against what I perceived to be something bad only to look back and see how God used it to protect me, or point me in the right direction or lead me to be at the right place at the right time. Then there are times where I’ve fought to cling to the “good” in life only to find out that it’s the Trojan horse in my life?
So do I believe God is good, regardless of everything I’ve faced and will continue to face? Yes. I believe that God is working “all these things” for my good. I know one day, maybe not here on earth, I’ll be able to look back and see the big picture and see the goodness of God even in the times that it didn’t feel good.
As always I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an e-mail.