Oct192015
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God is Good

Life has moments that take your breath away… And moments that suck the life right out of you. Yet in every season, both in the ups and the downs, there is a truth that holds us steady: God is Good. Oh, I know…Sometimes its not easy to see His goodness. Sometimes anger, fear, sorrow, shame, exhaustion, frustration, or apathy cover this truth like a mist. And, as if it were a mountain we know is there but can’t quite see through the fog, we lose sight if it.  In those moments our faith is tested. Is God really good?

There once was a carpenter who decided to build a bench.  He worked hard all night on his project. In the morning when the sun came up, the bench sat in his workshop, complete.  But there was one last piece of finish-work before it could be put to use.  The testing.  A high quality piece of woodwork must be tested. Great weight and pressure are applied to each and every joint.  The piece is crushed, pushed and squeezed in all its vulnerable places. The pressure tests its strength and integrity. But in the end, when the testing is done, the joints are strengthened, fused together deeply, and made stronger than they were before.

Sometimes, through the haze of our own personal circumstances, we can’t see that God is good… for a moment we lose sight of the mountain.  But other times, we turn around and our eyes light up with awe as we watch the goodness of God parade down the street just for us. How do we hang onto the comfort that God is Good when sometimes we feel it and sometimes we don’t? How do we recognize it; how do we not miss it, rename it, or misunderstand it? Let’s ask God those questions as we explore our recent Life Journal readings:

  • October 17: Job 1-2; Acts 6-7
  • October 18: Job 3-4; Acts 8-9
  • October 19: Job 5, Psalm 108, Acts 10-11
  • October 20: Job 6-8, Acts 12

If ever a man was tested it was Job.  He lost. it. all. Even his own body was devastated by disease. All he had left were a few friends who came to sit with him and a wife who didn’t know how to be there for him.  But God had been so good to Job. In fact, Job was a man who worshiped and honored God daily. In the midst of his insanely blessed life he never forgot. So what would Job do while drowning in suffering and heartache?

For 7 days and nights he sat in silence, mourning.  Then Job opens his mouth.  His heart shudders out a painful cry; a desperate wish that he’d never even been born. “I have no peace, no quietness; no rest, but only turmoil!” (Job 3:26)

And in response, his friend, Eliphaz, gives voice to a thought shared by most religions today: If you are good, won’t God be good to you?

Oh!  It is such a tragedy!  This reaching-up-to-God-through-our-own-goodness. It’s something men have been trying to do ever since the tower of Babel.  But it’s never worked. And it never will. If we base life on the quality of our own goodness, we’ll fall short, every time.

Living by faith is a crazy proposition. It means realizing we aren’t always the best judge of things. It means that what we see with our eyes isn’t all there is to the story. It means believing in a God who is higher than we are. It means trusting God to do what He says He will do: that He will reach down to us. Because…

It is HIS righteousness that rescues.  Not our own.

On the other side of the coin, our pain isn’t always a result of our own disobedience either.  Sometimes this broken world just side-swipes us. Sometimes pressure and resistance reach the breaking point. But in every place of friction, God’s goodness seeps down deep. Because for those who live by faith, trouble is only the beginning, not the end. When we persevere we realize that…

God is Good even when things aren’t.

What eyes will we see with?  Looking through the eyes of men leads us to think that God is good when things are good.  But the eyes of the Spirit see above the mist and fog of the circumstances of this broken world and know that no matter what our immediate landscape looks like, the mountain is still there. God’s goodness will never be removed.

The essence of the gospel is simple: It’s HIS goodness that saves, not our own.

Let’s say that again:

His Goodness

We can cling to the goodness of God in every stormy sea.

In our reading of Acts, this gospel, this good-news-of-God-reaching-right-into-our-broken-lives, explodes upon the world. The blind and crippled are miraculously healed; the demon-possessed are supernaturally freed, the gentiles are powerfully filled with the Spirit of God! And who is doing all of those things? Ordinary believers following an extraordinary Savior! It’s enough to make you want to shout “Hallelujah!”

Of course those seeped in the religious philosophies of piety and perfection try to interrupt and interfere.  They violently opposed the believers, beginning with the rage-incited stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). As the heat is turned up in Jerusalem, the believers are forced to flee.  But the persecution was only the beginning of the story, not the end.  When we take a second look, we suddenly see that it was through this testing that the purpose of the gospel was confirmed.

“Those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4)

The gospel is not meant to be kept to ourselves! It’s meant to be shared; to be spread! It was through this misty layer of misery descending upon the believers in Jerusalem, that the message became more clear. It was given to be given away. Would they have left home and traveled to new places to spread the gospel if it hadn’t been so miserable to stay?  Maybe not.  But the persecution did more than just get them moving. It moved them. 

They went from a “rebellious” sect, huddled together inside the city, to a supernatural force bringing God’s Kingdom to earth though out the Roman Empire. Suddenly they had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Suddenly they had a fire burning in their bellies.  Suddenly they were all in. Did you read the stories in Acts 9-11? Signs and wonders followed them around!  Their faith matured, from reasonable to radical!

Testing can prove our purpose and confirm our calling; because sometimes the hard things help us remember the main things.

Just like the bench made by the carpenter, sometimes testing reinforces and strengthens who we were created to be. For the early believers, experiencing opposition solidified their calling to “GO”, and multiply Jesus’ mission and message on earth.

As we looked at these passages together, we asked some questions and discovered some answers. We explored just how God is good both in times of trial and triumph. And we realized that when we need it most, we can look for glimpses of the mountain of His goodness in every situation.  Because, somewhere, in any type of weather, its always there.

But were all your questions answered?  Usually they aren’t. God wants us to keep asking them. God wants to keep the conversation going. Talk to Him. Pour out your heart to Him. He is listening and He is big enough to take our pain, confusion and sorrow. He doesn’t want us to ever have to carry it alone. Because, at the heart of every situation, is the rock-solid truth we can cling to with our lives: God is Good.

“I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.” Psalm 108:3

May God fill you with a deep experience of the height and depth of His rock-solid goodness.  May you see with the eyes of your heart God’s faithfulness that reaches to the sky. May you experience God’s earth-reaching glory, in a way that is uniquely personal to you.  And may you trust Him, even in the times when all you can see is the foggy mists of trial or pain.  May God be your Mountain. May He be the Rock of your salvation. And may He teach you to run to Him, especially when the fog is most thick.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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