It was a year punctuated by the sudden death of my mother and my first miscarriage. We were devoted to a parachurch ministry and my husband was working fulltime while finishing up his Bible degree. The lyrics, “God is good, all the time” had become dust in my mouth. I became lost in grief and loss. There was a dark battle waging between the truth I had been taught about God and the emotions I felt. If God really did love me as His beloved daughter then why was life so gut wrenchingly hard?
The Bible tells of a man who may have had the same questions. Read the account of the last days of John the Baptist. John was the wilderness dweller who ate locusts and wild honey and didn’t flinch from preaching a message of repentance to a hostile crowd. He prepared the masses for the arrival of the Messiah. Suddenly, things ground to a halt for John when he stepped on the toes of the local dictator. John was shut up in a cell and silenced. He had months to wonder if maybe he had possibly misheard God regarding his entire mission. “When John the Baptist was in prison, he heard what Jesus was doing. He sent his followers. They asked, “Are You the One Who was to come, or should we look for another?” (Matt. 11:2-3) Now in a Hallmark movie, Jesus would immediately rush to the prison cell, miraculously unlock the bars, and then hug John closely, reassuring him, “Yes John, I am the One and everything is going to be fine.” However, our God is not a Hallmark scriptwriter. .Jesus said to John’s friends: “Go and tell John what you see and hear. The blind are made to see. Those who could not walk are walking. Those who have had bad skin diseases are healed. Those who could not hear are hearing. The dead are raised up to life and the Good News is preached to poor people.”(Matt. 11:4-5) If I had been John, I would replied to Jesus’s response, “Good talk. You have performed miracles right and left, but hey, what about me?” Shortly after that, John was executed by Herod. This is not the ending I would have picked.
It is easy to affirm God’s attribute of goodness when things are going well for us, but difficult when things are hard, especially when we can see others skating by. That is the problem when we view God’s character in Hallmark terms. We look at circumstances and then judge God’s goodness. Andrew Wilson, Teaching Pastor of King’s Church, London comments, “God is good by definition. He is goodness itself. He has never been faced with a catch-22 situation, forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, or flummoxed into a decision that was anything less than completely good. If God has done something, it is good.” End of story.
The cross demonstrated God’s eternal character – His goodness and generosity toward a creation that had spit in His face. God the Father was good, even when His Son was suffering in agony. God the Father was good, even when Mary, Jesus’ mother was watching her son being tortured. God the Father was good even to the thief crucified adjacent to Jesus, even though the thief would never have time on this earth to do one good deed to deserve an ounce of God’s goodness. God was good through the darkness and generous with His goodness.
Goodness is Who God is. He is good, all the time, even if tears are streaming down my face and I am having trouble facing another sunrise. My God doesn’t write short-term Hallmark stories. My God has written His eternal goodness in His own blood and that is something I can trust in. He is goodness itself. That’s just Who He is.
Good follow-up reading: Psalm 34:8; Exodus 34:6; James 1:17; Psalm 27:13; Psalm 145:5-7