Praise be to you, Lord, for your goodness to us, of which there are two kinds. First there is that praise which we commonly express after we get what we want. We, “God is good!” We can easily see His goodness when He gives us the pleasant, the preferred, the prayer answers we wanted and the protection that we crave.
Then there is God’s unwanted goodness: the trials, chastening and challenges He sends or allows, like my unwanted trips to the hospital this year, the unanswered prayers (actually, the answer is “no” or “wait”), the protection withheld, healing not given and problems unsolved. These all are also your goodness, as you have higher, deeper, longer and wider reasons for them.
It was your goodness, Lord, that sent Joseph to Egypt as a slave, that sent him to prison for doing what was right, and that in the end made him the Prime Minister of Egypt so he could save his family, the Egyptians, many from surrounding countries–and eventually us, as his work preserved the life of his brother Judah from whence came the Messiah.
All of this was your goodness, although much of it did not look, feel or smell like it to Joseph at the time. But he, by faith, declared his suffering and trials good, as he said to his brothers concerning their selling him as a slave, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20).
Paul, too, knew the goodness of God in his difficulties and chose in faith to embrace his weakness. When Paul prayed to have his thorn removed God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response was, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest on me!” (2 Cor. 12:9,10).
What if Paul had sat in prison, sulking and feeling sorry for himself, angry at his captors and God? We wouldn’t have two thirds of the New Testament, for it was in the quietness of prison that Paul had the time to write all those letters.
The truth is, “God is good, all the time!” and “All the time God is good!” We need to expand our vision of who He is, so that when things don’t go the way we want, we can, by faith, declare and embrace His undesired goodness. We need to grasp that He has a plan and will work it out. We need to comprehend that for each disappointment He has a sequel.
As it says in Hebrews 12:1&2, He has laid out a race for us, He goes before us and is working on maturing and completing our faith in the process. He calls us to run the race, looking to Jesus, not at our circumstances, comfort or the crowd.
As it says in Psalm 23, He calls us to live in the truth that He, as our good Shepherd, knows where He’s going (in paths of righteousness) and we can follow Him with confidence, through beauty and past beasts, through light and darkness, through green pastures and valleys of shadow.
We can choose to measure things by our own very limited, self-centered human wisdom, complaining when we don’t get our way, and living in discontent, self-pity and shallow faith. Or we can choose to be confident in God’s all-encompassing goodness and wisdom, embracing whatever He brings, finding our rest in Him alone, remembering that our Hope comes from Him (Ps. 62:5).
Let us live in the light His beautiful character: God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good.