You've heard it asked, I'm sure, "If God is so good, why does He allow bad things to happen?"
When faced with a situation that seems hopeless, it's easy to think, "If God is so good, why would he allow this to happen to me?"
But the goodness of God is foundational to the hope that He is working all things together for our good. So, how can we determine whether God really is good?
We cannot base our conclusion of God's goodness on bad that happens in our world. Why? I'm glad you asked....
1. We live in a fallen world. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God way back in the garden (Genesis 3), that opened the door to sin as well as sickness, disease, and death. The fact is, there is sickness in the world. There is disease. There is death. That is a result of man's disobedience to God and rejection of His original plan.
2. There are consequences to our actions. Some situations we find ourselves in are simply a result of poor choices on our part. If I choose to eat poorly and refuse to exercise for most of my life, there will be dire consequences related to my health and general well-being. If I choose to show up late, do poor work, and cause trouble at my job, I likely won't have that job for long. Not everything that happens to us is a result of our choices, but we do reap what we sow....in health, in relationships, in finances, and in life in general.
3. We cannot control the actions of others. If someone chooses to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated, I cannot control the outcome of that situation or the effect it has on others. If someone chooses to detonate a bomb in a public venue, or open fire in a crowded building, I cannot control whether that choice affects me or others I know and love.
Can God intervene and heal the natural sickness? Can He reverse the negative impact of our unwise choices? Can He supernaturally protect us from the crazed gunman or the natural disaster? He absolutely can, and often He does. So, why doesn't He do it every time? That is a theological question that exceeds the scope of this post. (Maybe we'll tackle that one another time!)
So if we cannot determine the goodness of God based on the evidence in the world around us then how can we determine whether He really is good? Let's look at what we know to be true...the Word of God. What does God's Word say about himself?
You are good and you do good (Psalm 119:68)
A simple search of "goodness" at Biblegateway.com will reveal pages of texts; here are just a few...
When Moses asked to view God's glory, God's reply was, "I will cause my goodness to pass before you" (Exodus 33:19)...not His power or His might, but His goodness.
When Solomon prayed a dedication of the altar of God in the temple, he prayed that the people would "rejoice in [God's] goodness" (2 Chronicles 6:41)
The Psalmist staked his confidence in the goodness of God: "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13).
Peter reminds us that it is God's goodness that calls us to knowledge of himself (2 Peter 1:3).
We must be careful to not base our "interpretation" of God's goodness on our current circumstances. If we do, we will be tempted to view our situation as hopeless.
We must stake our hope on God's word, and therefore on His goodness. Then it is easy to take Him at His Word....that He is good, and He does good. And He will do it for you.
Want to read more on the goodness of God? Check out this fantastic article.
This post is part of the series, Embracing Hope. In the coming weeks, we'll look at why we can put our hope in God, how we put our hope in God, and what we can do when it feels all hope is lost. Won't you come along for the journey? Consider subscribing via e-mail so you can receive new posts delivered directly to your inbox! Simply enter your e-mail address in the box to the right.
To view the entire series, click here.