How we complete that sentence reveals a lot about our faith. “God is good – all the time” is more than a religious platitude. It is the testimony of Bible people from Job to Elijah; from Jeremiah to Stephen. Their uniform witness is that sometimes God’s people suffer – unjustly and unfairly, it appears.
As we read their stories we learn that in spite of persistent trials, disappointments and pain, they experienced God’s faithfulness and mercy. One of the truths we learn is that God’s people worship Him not because life is easy, or because God always relieves their pain, or always gives them what they want, but because He is God, and because His purposes are good.
Recently I read an article by a famous Christian writer who told about being abused as a young girl, and about the confusion, conflict and depression that followed. Her marriage to a prominent Christian leader was not the storybook marriage people thought it was. It was filled with “conflict, disappointment, dysfunction and resentment.”
Not only that, her mentally ill son committed suicide. Not surprisingly, this was devastating to this Christian couple who loved Jesus and sought to find His purpose and comfort in the suffering. Did they?
She wrote, “Through God’s work in our lives, we’ve beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome.” This was because of their view of God. “God has worked in our life together – and He’s used our marriage struggles to draw us closer to Him and to each other.”
As I read this, I thought of how she is modelling healthy responses to life’s troubles: choosing to worship and glorify God; seeking and granting forgiveness for offenses; bringing failure and suffering into the light, and dealing with them openly – not hiding behind a curtain of shame and secrecy. This enables her to help and guide others who go through the same things.
In Romans 8:24-27 the Apostle Paul bluntly states that we Christians groan inwardly in our weakness. But we are not alone. God has given us His Holy Spirit. And the Spirit gives us hope. Hope is not wishful thinking. It is certainty that God’s good purposes will be worked out in us, too.
Believing that God is good activates our faith. It brings it to life in our experience.