You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes. ~Psalm 119:68
In the last week, I overheard two different conversations that went something like this:
“[Insert bad thing here] looked like it was going to happen, but I prayed and [insert bad thing here] didn’t happen. God is so good!”
Then there was this gem:
I don’t even know where to begin, but what these conversations, and this truly horrifying if real (and pretty hilarious if not) post have in common is this: Really, really, bad theology.
A quick Google search on “verses about God’s goodness” returns about 670,000 results, and the first return lists 61 verses that mention God’s goodness. A quick search of these verses reveals not a single verse that says God is only good when He saves us from a near miss, heals us the way we expect, or blesses us with a new car. No, God’s goodness doesn’t always manifest itself in these ways, but so often, the good times are the times we remember to praise Him for being good.
Last weekend, I flew to Pittsburgh and back to visit a friend. My flight out of San Antonio was delayed so badly by storms in New Orleans that I missed my connection and got to spend a fun-filled night in Chicago’s lovely Midway Airport. (In case you’re wondering, 9 hours of no sleep and hearing “Caution, the moving walkway is ending” over and over and over again is enough to make a girl lose her mind!)
On the way home, I flew through Nashville, and again, was waylaid by storms. But when we finally took off and got up to our cruising altitude, I got to witness the intense beauty of of a line of thunderstorms from high above. I watched for nearly an hour as lightning lit up the clouds, forking back and forth as tiny towns below felt the full brunt of a line of severe storms. (I took the video below – trust me, it doesn’t do it justice!)
As I watched, I imagined families huddled in basements and closets, parents comforting scared little ones as storms raged around homes for hundreds of miles. But from 30,000 feet and 60 miles away, it was incredibly beautiful!
Then, something else caught my eye. I looked up above the clouds and was met with an inky black sky dotted with millions of stars!
From my viewpoint, they were shining brightly, but the people under the storms couldn’t see the stars. All they could see was the lightning, the rain and hail, and the heavy winds. For them, the world was swimming in chaos. But just above the chaos was a calm, dark sky, full of millions of points of light.
Just a few days ago, a church van carrying 14 senior adults returning from a retreat was hit head-on by another car, and 13 of those church members died.
When I heard the news, it all came back to mind – the conversations I’d overheard, the storm I watched from high above, and that sky filled with stars. 10 miles up the road from me, a church family is hurting as badly as a family can and this week, they will bury 13 of their own. A church family.
Isn’t God supposed to be good? Doesn’t God’s goodness mean this kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen, especially to Christians?
But the God of the Bible isn’t conditionally good the way our limited minds want Him to be. In spite of the bad theology floating around out there, God is good
- when the accident happens
- when the baby is born with a birth defect
- when the cancer wins
- when house burns down
Even when we’re hurting, even when we suffer, God is still good.
Our circumstances don’t change God’s goodness, but God’s goodness can change how we react to our circumstances. Our reaction to the hard things in life can make or break our faith, and our reactions to the hard things in life will always reveal our theology – good or bad.
The danger of bad theology is that when the bad thing does happen, our faith can’t stand up against the doubt, the fear, the anger, and the grief that is sure to come. Bad theology puts our faith at risk, because bad theology makes us question God’s character.
Here is the truth we absolutely must cling to if we’re going to maintain a right view of God, fully trust Him in every situation, and develop a strong, firm faith:
Even when…God is still good.
Bad theology can break our faith. Good theology that believes in an unconditionally good God results in a faith strong enough to stand against whatever life throws at us. Even [insert bad thing here].
Where have you seen God’s goodness in the middle of the storm?