A question wound its way into my heart as I glanced at the beautiful, custom-made scripture text on the wall.
“The Lord is good, his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues to all generations.”
Hand painted on reclaimed wood. Each letter beautifully formed. The perfect shade of blue for my living room. I loved it.
But was it true?
As I looked at it, it seemed to taunt me.
The Lord is good.
We had just received some hard hitting news about my mother-in-law in her ongoing battle with cancer. Our family had already suffered the pain of losing my lovely sister-in-law a year and a half ago – my brother-in-law losing his wife, and 3 young children losing their mother.
And yet, there was my beautiful new text staring at me, shouting THE LORD IS GOOD.
As I gazed at that verse over the next few days, it challenged me.
How do you reconcile the two? What do you do when you are faced with suffering, loss, and pain?
Do I still believe that? Can the Lord be good and allow all of this?
As those words, “the Lord is Good”, rang loud in my head, I realised something.
This is a declaration of God’s character. Something that is unchanging. It is just who He is. The Lord, He is good.
In difficult times we come face to face with a choice. Will we still say “the Lord is good”?
Despite the circumstances and whatever we might be going through?
Can we say it honestly?
When the situation is definitely not good – with fear, pain and heartache – how can we declare that the Lord is good?
When we read the Bible we find this proclamation all the way through.
In creation… “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Genesis 1 v 31
In bringing the Israelites out of Egypt… “Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done for Israel.” Exodus 18 v 9
When giving the law… “keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you this day FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.” Deuteronomy 10 v 12-13
And when we read the book of Psalms we find the theme of God’s goodness repeated many times over… “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Psalm 34 v 8
“I will praise thy name, O Lord, for it is good.” Psalm 54 v 6
“The Lord is good, his mercy endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100 v 5
“You are good, and do good.” Psalm 119 v 68
And then, the greatest display of God’s goodness is seen when we move into the New Testament and see God providing a Saviour for us – His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” Luke 1 v 78.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3 v 16
The thread of God’s goodness runs all the way through God’s Word, but there is another, darker strand woven throughout too. One of sin, death, disease, wars, betrayals, murders. God does not paint a picture of a world free from trouble. Far from it! This world was marred by sin in Genesis ch3, and it wasn’t long until the first murder occurred. All the way through the story of the Bible the consequences rumble on, resulting in pain and suffering.
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Romans 8 v 22
When I was in my late teens, I really wrestled with this. How can there be a good God and at the same time so much suffering in the world.
I’m not saying I have all the answers now, but one verse that really helped me at that time was Nahum 1 v 7.
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him.”
The Lord is good….the day of trouble…
Side by side.
Both real and true.
I came across other verses… “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble .” Psalm 46 v 1
“In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me.” Psalm 27 v 5
“You are my hiding place and my shield…Hold me up and I shall be safe.” Psalm 119 v 114, 117
God is not promising a trouble free life, rather He seems to be anticipating hard times.
So many of the descriptions of God wouldn’t be necessary if life was one long, smooth ride.
Refuge. Shield. Hiding place. Resting place. Shelter.
Consider the final phrase. “He knoweth them that trust in Him.”
This is so personal. God Himself knows when we are trusting in Him.
When we step out in faith, placing our own life and circumstances into God’s hands. Trusting God with whatever is happening, we discover that the promise is real. God is a very present help in times of trouble. God Himself is with us. He will make His presence known. The promise is not that God will fix everything, but He will reveal Himself to us, and we will know without a shadow of a doubt that God is real and God is good. We can rest in Him in the middle of the storm swirling around us. He knows us, He is holding us, and He will not let us go.
As I considered all of this, I realised something.
I do still believe it.
The Lord is good.
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.“
Psalm 27 v 13-14
“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S.Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe