19 August 2010

God is always good

Yesterday I was reading the beginning of Job and lingered over a comment he made to his wife.
"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10) 
It reminded me of a time when I learned an important truth about God - that God is always good.  Thankfully at the time I learned this lesson I was spared trouble, save a small amount of embarrassment. 

It was a time when I was asked to give a testimony at a church event, with the aim of being an encouragement to the church family and maybe sparking some interest in God for those who came as guests.

I had decided to talk about how God was at work in my life at that time, rather than describe how I became a Christian, but on the morning of the event I still had no idea what I would say.  As I drove to work I prayed earnestly that God would give me some direction - I was running out of time!  And pretty soon that prayer was answered. 

As I sat at the traffic lights, waiting for them to turn green, I heard the screech of brakes, the sound of metal hitting metal, the tinkle of smashing glass.  Once, twice, three times.  A four car pile up and had there been sufficient momentum, I would have been the fifth car, but by God's grace, my car remained untouched.  The lights turned green, I drove off (that sounds a bit irresponsible as I write it now...I wonder if I should have stayed at the scene??) and praised God that He had spared me from being involved in that traffic accident - and praised God that I now knew what I would talk about that evening.

As I spoke that evening of the morning's traffic accident, I kept using the phrases, "God was good" and "God was with me."  Over and over.  And eventually I brought my story round to the goodness of God, that He should send His Son to die for me that I might have eternal life in Him. 

At the end of the evening, as I walked back to my undamaged car, a dear woman approached me and said, "Meredith, that was a great talk.  But I have a question for you.  If your car had been hit this morning, would God still be good?  Would God still have been with you?"

I still wince at that oh so gentle rebuke.  Because she is right.  God is good.  Even if my car had been the fifth car in that pile up, or even the first to be hit and so sustaining the greatest amount of damage, even if I had been injured or even killed that day - God is good.  Because trouble of one sort or another WILL come.  Traffic accident.  Ill health.  Fractured relationships.  Unemployment.  Poverty.  Death.  But for those who love Him, life with all its goodness and troubles, is lived upon the foundation of hope - that God will bring them home to Himself through the work of His Son on the cross.  That is the good constant with which we live, despite what happens to us in our day to day lives.

God is always good.


Sarah said...

Great post, Meredith. I am starting to become more aware of when myself or others say, "God answered my prayer. Praise God." What they or I REALLY mean is, "God answered my prayer the way I wanted Him to." In reality, God always answers the prayers of His people - yes, no or wait.

What you wrote is very true and good to remember in times of ease and times of suffering. I find the song 'Blessed Be Your Name' very helpful for this reason.

Meredith said...

Hi Sarah. Thanks for your lovely comment and I love that song too!!

The thing that gets me is when people say, "God was kind to me" or words to that effect when something works out. It always makes me wince because God is always kind to us (in addition to being just, merciful, gracious and all His other attributes) despite our circumstances. I know what they mean - and it is a way of saying that they were aware of God's goodness in their lives at that moment, because He is the God of the small things as well as the big, eternal things.

But it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God has turned His face away when things aren't going right, which is a subset of what I was trying to say here. Understanding that God is always good/kind represents a mindshift of seeing a bigger God than we might otherwise consider.

Of course the tension is to make sure that we do say, "Praise God - He answered my prayer" and celebrate God at work in the immediacy of our lives. But as you say, it is about what's going on in our hearts.

Sanctification is hard work, isn't it? :-) But good work.

Btw, I was looking forward to meeting you at the PWC, but events overtook and I wasn't able to get there. Maybe next year!!


Sarah said...

But it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God has turned His face away when things aren't going right, which is a subset of what I was trying to say here.

That's true! The thing I struggle with is why God allows specific instances of suffering to happen to us, knowing that He disciplines us as sons (or daughters in our case). So when something happens like a car accident or an illness, I try to remember that God is good and brings good out of bad circumstances, but wondering if I need to know WHY I'm suffering ie. is God using this circumstance to discipline me for sin, am I simply suffering from others' sin (and probably learning graciousness and forgiveness along the way), is He simply teaching me patience and perseverance?

I hope I'm making some sort of sense. Maybe I shouldn't bother analysing things so much? I don't want anyone to think I'm talking about Karma cos that's definitely not the case!

Yes, would be great to meet you at PWC next year if not before. I'm planning to be there again (God willing).

Meredith said...

My sense is that lots of stuff happens in our lives - sometimes we can see the immediate sense of it, sometimes clarity comes down the track and sometimes we will never understand why, this side of heaven. And what is important is how we respond rather than whether or not we understand why it happened at all. And also trusting that God is love and God is sovereign. Wondering about the "why" of things is often a red herring, that can have us chasing our tails - just to mix a metaphor or two!

mattnbec said...

Yes! I agree. I find myself wincing at my own words when I speak like this. It's such a struggle to articulate having a sense/awareness of God's goodness to you without making it sound like he's only good when he does what we want.

Particularly in the context of talks etc, we repeat phrases to make a point and use them as shorthand for wider points. So, if you could go back and change it, how would you revise that talk, M?

x B

Sharon said...

This morning I was having this same conversation in the car with the kids on the way to school. We were listening to Colin Buchanan's CD "Super Saviour", which has that very song, "Blessed be the Name of Jesus" on it.

Sam (my 3 3/4 year old) announced, "This is a sad song, Mummy." I am not sure if he was reacting to the minor chords more than the words, but it was good to be able to reply to him, "Yes, but it is a happy song as well. Because even when things happen that make us sad, our God is wonderful and good and we can praise His name." (Or something along those lines... I was also concentrating on traffic at the time.)

The CD "Come Weary Saints" by Sovereign Grace Music also has some comforting songs that remind us of the constant hope we have, despite our varying circumstances.


Meredith said...

Thanks for the CD recommendation Sharon. "Come Weary Saints" sounds like a good one to follow up.

And Bec, that is an excellent question. I will follow that up when I have a few spare minutes...either in a comment here or as a new post.


Ali said...

Hey Meredith,
Thanks very much for this post. I agree, and I wrote a rambling post about just this thing once upon a time http://mannainomers.blogspot.com/2008/02/god-was-very-kind.html in response to people constantly saying "God was very kind". Anyway, I have tagged you in a meme, sorry, but it's a nice one! :)

Meredith said...

Hi Ali,
Thanks for the link. My thoughts exactly!! It is a problematic thing - because God does bless us in the small details as well as the eternal stuff of life. Since writing this and thinking about it all I wonder if I have been a bit harsh in my thinking when people say, "God was kind to me today." There may be more to say on this. But for now, I have a meme to attend to - and please don't apologise. Being tagged makes me happy!

Jean said...

Meredith, this post keeps coming back to me. Sign of a good post: like a good wine, it matures with age. Thank you.

Jean said...

Oh, and I agree about "Come weary saints". Buy it, and it's bound to be the next one on your list of CDs you can listen to for a year and still want to hear again!

I must get hold of those other CDs you mentioned...

Meredith said...

Thanks Jean for your encouragement. I think there is more to say on this topic. Ideas are brewing in my head for want of a spare hour to write them down.

And when there are a few more spare hours after that I must get myself to the relevant shop to buy a copy of that CD!!