How do you measure God’s goodness to you?
If you are like me, you tend to equate material and physical blessings with God’s smile, and hardship and trial with God’s frown. When my kids are doing right, and we’re on top of the world (aka organized and on track for school) or when God provides ministry opportunities and we see fruit in our work, then God is blessing us.
But the dark side to this thinking is that when trouble strikes, we assume Satan is after us because we’ve been so righteous (pride) or that God’s somehow withholding blessing from us (self-pity…aka…pride).
Looking back at this past year, our family has had tremendous blessing. We’ve traveled more than ever, enjoyed health and happiness in our family, grown in size with a new son-in-law as our daughter married, and we’ve seen God provide in miraculous ways for our family. If I’m not careful, I can equate God’s goodness to us as a correlation to our performance or His happiness with our family.
Our family has also known worries and trials that we’ve never experienced before with the care and keeping of our foster son. Emotional unrest, uncertainty, and fear were all very present in 2016. If I’m not careful, I can equate all of this to God’s displeasure or a reflection of our poor performance in our Christian lives.
The wonderful truth about God is that He is good to His children because that’s His nature. The end. It’s not based on how good we are. This is at the heart of the gospel. God seeks us when we are sinful and unlovable, and does all the work to save us. It’s not about us or about our performance. I don’t know about you but I need this reminder daily.
This small line of verse has been ringing in my ears for the last 6 months:
“Every joy or trial, falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial, by the Son of Love.”
“Works Christianity” can creep into my mindset so easily, even though I’ve fought that natural teaching my whole life, and worldly philosophy like Karma and survival of the fittest can jade my worldview, distort the truth of the gospel, and rob my joy.
Circumstances are not an indication of God’s pleasure or displeasure, love or coolness toward me. God’s act of sending Jesus to die for us on that bloody cross is the final indication of His love for us.
When we have plenty of money, lots of opportunities, when life goes smoothly and people treat us with love and respect, God does indeed love us.
But when God seems distant, and everything we touches falls apart, when money’s short, and hurt surrounds us, God also loves us.
Whatever comes our way, “every joy or trial”, comes from His good hand and it’s intended to bring us close to Him.
Whatever accomplishes that,
whatever makes us look up at Him, whatever strips us of our own delusions of goodness or self-sufficiency, whatever makes us realize how small and out of control we are apart from Him, whatever drives us to cling to Him as our only Hope, that is exactly when we can see the love and goodness of God despite the circumstances.
This past year, despite highs and lows like we’ve never experienced before, the goodness of God’s love has shined through the circumstances and God’s grace has shown us His presence.
In the end, dear friend, God is the goal and to know Him is the stabilizing factor in our lives.
Whatever your goals for 2017, don’t assume that God’s goodness is measured by the amount of ease, plenty, respect, happiness, approval, or health you’ll experience. Good or bad, come what may, be willing to embrace everything and anything as from the Father’s good hand, knowing He’s there with you and present, and that is the ultimate gift.