Is God Good?

As I spoke with a brother the other day whose life is coming to an end and the darkness of Alzheimer’s was consuming his mind, I was assuring him of God’s grace. At one point I used that somewhat trite phrase, “God is good.”

I call it “trite” because I feel we often, and maybe only ever, use it when we think God has done something good to us or for us.  He is “good” in the way that we define “good”.  In other words, good is what we like or what makes us happy.

In my own life my relationship with my 90 year old mother is like this.  When she asks for some kind of favor or a treat of some kind, and I do it, she is all smiles and tells me what a good son I am.  When I say “no” because of whatever reason, I get “the look” or some disappointed “Oh Don.”

How often do we say “God is good” when He doesn’t give us what we want?  How often do we quote Romans 8:28 as some sort of mantra, again, defining “good” from our own selfish perspective?  Do we still think “God is good” when our house burns down or gets flooded?  Is He is still “good” when the news from the doctor is not good?

God’s goodness is to be found in the fact that he is working all things together for the purpose of molding us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).  That is exactly what our following Jesus as His disciples is to be all about.  A disciple’s goal is to become just like his/her Master/Teacher/Mentor.  Look at Jesus’ life to better understand more deeply and fully the reality of “God is good.”

When I spoke those “God is good” words, my brother’s immediate response was, “Oh, He’s better than that.” That exchange of words will not ever leave me. It reminded me that often we bring God down to our level and define His goodness cheaply.  Oh, we can never do that again if we remember that God’s goodness is always to be seen in work of transforming our lives.  Sometimes, even often, it is painful work.  But it’s always good.

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