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God Is Good

By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries
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"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"...there is no foundation for comfort in the enjoyments of this life, but in the assurance that a wise and good God governeth the world..." - William Law

Last year, I wrote a three-part devotional series titled, "Asking God for Help". The main teaching of that series was that we need to ask God for help in all difficult situations, large or small. God wants us to ask and He stands ready to help us, but we have to be prepared to accept His solution according to His timing. He knows how and when to work things out.

Asking for help is easy and costs us nothing except a few moments of our time. Most Christians do this frequently and automatically whenever difficulties present themselves, but there is usually a little shade of doubt that their prayers will do any good. We tend to petition God "just-in-case" it might actually help, but in reality, we surreptitiously expect that either circumstances aren't going to work out, or that we are going to have to get the job done ourselves. For the most part, we live as though we believe in an impersonal, disinterested Creator. We understand intellectually that God is in charge, but practically, we go about our business as though He's nowhere to be found and that we're going to have to steer the ship in His absence.

We fail to live in the truth of Romans 8:28 because subconsciously, we don't fully believe that God is good. We don't believe that He loves us, nor do we completely trust that He has our best interests at heart. To use a favorite phrase of author John Eldredge, we suspect that God is holding out on us.

Why do we hold onto these doubts when scripture is so unambiguous about God's endless love and immeasurable goodness?

First, many of our relationships on Earth result in betrayal. We believe that we can't really trust anyone because so often when we trust someone close to us, they let us down. This leaves many of us wondering if we can really trust God to come through when we need Him the most. We especially tend to relate to God in the same way as we related to our earthly fathers when we were young. We unintentionally ascribe to Him the same failings and deficiencies we witnessed in our own father. If our father was not around when we needed him, we expect God to be absent too. If our father was especially strict or had difficulty expressing his love for us, then we expect God to be the same. Relating to God as a loving Father is especially difficult for those whose own father was abusive.

Secondly, undermining our belief that God is good and trustworthy is one of the oldest and most powerful weapons that Satan wields. It began long ago in the Garden. "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:4-5) One can almost see the changing expression on Eve's face as she wonders, "Really? Should I not trust God? Did He lie to me?" The Devil will do whatever he can to make you doubt God's benevolence and cause you to ask the question, "Is He holding out on me"?

Finally, our lack of trust in God stems from the observation that this fallen world can be so exceptionally evil. All we can do is wonder at the meaning of it, for we lack God's ability to see how all the puzzle pieces are going to come together in the end to form a beautiful picture. For us, the world just seems to be a random, chaotic collage. We cannot see the glorious pattern God is weaving though it all, and so we wonder in the midst of this confusion if He has walked away and abandoned the world to its own devices.

How, then, can we overcome our reluctance to trust in God and His goodness?

First, we need to understand what is really meant by the phrase, "God is good." What it does not mean is that there is some universally accepted standard of goodness which, if we are to judge His motives and character, God can always be counted on to meet. If this were so, where did this standard come from? Who is able to stand in judgment of God to rate His goodness according to this standard?

The phrase "God is good" is not telling us anything about God's performance or record of achievement. The phrase does not, in fact, tell us anything at all about God. The statement, rather, is telling us about that standard of goodness. It does not answer the question, "What is God like?" It answers the question, "What is goodness like?", and the answer is God.

It would be meaningless to even try to judge God by the very standard which He defines by His being. It would be like trying to judge the wetness of pure water, since water is the very essence that defines wetness. There is no higher authority than God by which we can make an appeal to the nature of right and wrong. Whatever He decrees to be good is good and whatever He decrees to be evil is evil.

The application of this important concept is simply this: we must be wary of judging God. We do this whenever we harbor expectations about what we think God should or should not do in any given situation. We "expect" God to heal our friend with cancer, or we "expected" Him to stop that drunk driver who took the life of our loved one. It's so easy to doubt God's goodness whenever we think we know what's right or wrong, and to then turn around and accuse Him of clearly missing the mark of an obvious standard of righteousness. It's especially easy when the Enemy is whispering in our ear, casting aspersions.

We have to let go of our expectations of God. His plan is good, and for some reason beyond our comprehension, it does sometimes include allowing death, war and disease. I don't know why God sometimes determines it's necessary to allow evil, while other times He intervenes to prevent it. I don't understand His total plan from beginning to end. But I know it's good.

What a huge, daunting responsibility it is to require ourselves to understand the entirety of His plan before we will trust Him! If we will instead step back and trust in His inherent goodness, never question His motives and restrain the impulse to judge God when we don't understand, we will have much greater peace when trouble comes.

If you're struggling with trusting God's goodness, as most of us do, ask the Holy Spirit to help you now. Pray that the pride that causes you to hold God in judgment will be lifted away. When things don't make sense and you cannot see how good will ever come from tragedy, ask the Holy Spirit to humble you so that you can overcome the need to understand God's purposes and simply trust and abide in His perfect goodness.

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As I finished reading your devotional, the first thing that I came to my mind was; rightly dividing the word of truth.(2 Tim.2:15 ) I really believe that the Holy Spirit was given you tremendous insight into the reality of Rom.8:28. I also believe that the entire 8th chapter of the book of Romans give us a clear picture of the reality of God's goodness and His ability and His willingness to answer our prayers. I have found for myself lately that, God through His Holy Spirit leads me into truth, as I put my trust in His word, and His divine sovereignty to watch over His word to perform it. (Jer.29:10,11 Isa.55:9-11) I really appreciate you sharing this, it lets me know that I'm on the right path today. Thanks Michael Grace and Peace Philsogmanifest
8/29/2008 10:26:58 AM - anonymous

I don't understand. Doesn't it say that when we pray we should pray without doubt? Shouldn't we pray with the expectation that God will deliver?

8/29/2008 11:10:44 AM - anonymous

God is good! I have read Romans 8 several times this week and have had more peace while dealing with numerous difficulties. This Devotional is a blessing which reaffirms what Ive been led to experience lately. Thanks!
8/29/2008 11:33:06 AM - anonymous

SD - Absolutely have expectations that God will deliver. What we need to avoid are expectations about how and when He will do so. God will deliver what is right and good in His own way and in His own time.
8/29/2008 12:42:38 PM - Michael Lane

Thank you for this devotional on the goodness of God. You are right on target. We tend to forget that we are the ones that goof up, not God. It is the way we, as limited beings tend to look at things. Because the devil tries to really mess things up in our lives, and make us do or say things that we later realize are not troubles us to the point where we don't know what to do or think. The devil doesn't want you to trust God at all. He knows that your faith in God is what is important. He wants to steer you away from reading God's word and applying it to your life. God's laws were put here to help people and protect them. He is not some tyrant who doesn't understand what we need and what we are going through. People that you associate with or are even close to are not always the best at comforting you and giving you answers. We need to consult the Lord and his word when doing things of significance. There are people who know that something is wrong but don't understand that the devil is behind this, and using others to divide us and cause chaos or confusion. We are responsible for our actions to some extent, but the devil does know where we are weak. The less time we devote to worldly things and ways, the more we can experience the peace of God and change chaos into order. We also need to stand up for what we believe in. We can still have some impact in this world. We need to overcome the fear of man and what will happen to us as a result of being faithful to God. He knows our limits, and respects them. He created us himself. He was human and suffered for us.
8/29/2008 4:03:23 PM - anonymous

You really gave indepth insight to Rom 8:28, I have repented for placing my judgement on God for outcomes I determine to be good or just. I get caught up in pre-determining the best resolve for myself, and others. Although I have walked with the Lord for many years now, I allow myself to get deceived to defining the standard that God can only define. All that is required of me is to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus. (Luk 9:23). Thank you for sharing one of your many gifts, you have quicken my spirit today towards our Father. Amen
9/5/2008 11:10:30 AM - anonymous

This is indeed a blessing to me. I believe that I am a work in progress and trust God's perfect plan for my life, in fact a predestined future according to His will. The challenge that I face, and I believe many other believers, is to surrender in absolute humility to this plan, as soon as we face difficulties. Our difficulties most of the time are allowed to supercede our faith in Christ and the guidance of the holy Spirit in our lives. My prayer is captured by the apostle Paul in the Book of Romans Chapter 12, urging us to evaluate our faith honestly and humbly before God, acknowledging our human inability to please God without accepting His Grace and Ultimate and Perfect Plan for our lives. This Devotional Tool is indeed a blessing. Joseph Bostander
9/8/2008 2:10:28 AM - anonymous

I loved this! What we as humans often tend to forget - especially me - is that God does have his plan, for every person on Earth, regardless of the outcome or what we think is "supposed" to happen. Every event, every time period, every life-altering moment, whether on a very small scale that only affects one or a few people or on a very large scale that affects millions, is absolutely imperative to the plan God has set into motion for the world. Think about it: It is possible that every moment in human history, from the beginnings of civilization to the rise of ancient powers like Greece and Rome, to the growth of the Catholic Church and the European countries, through the Black Plague and midevalism, to the Renaissance, to the discovery of the Americas and the establishment of new countries, through two World Wars, through the forging of new economic, technological, and social links between all countries, all these things have all been set up specifically for God's purpose - and ultimately affects one's own path in life. Your own existence could be a direct result of every moment that has ever come before! That is how grand God's plan is, and how important we are - each and every one of us - to this intricate pattern He weaves. It's something that, as mentioned in this devotional, we often lose sight of because we sometimes tend to believe our immediate plans are greater than His long-term ones.

I love the Lord, and will strive to do better in trusting Him to answer my prayers in His own time and in His own way! - John Dearing
9/8/2008 1:00:37 PM - anonymous

Thank you for this devotional. I've recently watched a moving programme about Jews in Auschwitz called 'God on Trial', which got me thinking about Holocaust. This is obviously such a hard situation to understand, but your study has helped me incredibly, especially to not judge God by my standards, with my viewpoint; but to trust that He has a good plan.
9/13/2008 6:27:05 AM - anonymous

I do believe you have gotten a GRIP on this subject. GRIP means a Godly Revelation that Inspires Persuasion. I'm persuaded that GOD IS GOOD.
10/21/2008 7:24:33 PM - anonymous

I know for a fact that God is what we think he is all we have to do is look back on our lives, and look at the people that are not here and the thing that happened in our lives. but don't look to hard because you might just get very up set whit your self and say for-give me lord and you know what HE will, because his mercy is ever lasting. Amen.
12/12/2008 12:01:53 AM - anonymous

praise the lord
12/12/2008 12:02:33 AM - anonymous

It is wonderful to be reminded again about God's goodness. Thanks
12/30/2008 3:54:36 AM - anonymous

Don't we know what is best for our children?!? Here is a perfect love that is always just, always fair, and always good, without any evil intentions. If we repeat our request to our Father, it will be answered by three ways: yes, no, or wait. We have to be strong in not a religion with Him, but a relationship with Him to accept the answer that He knows is best for us. We may not think it at the time, but His perfect will is always better than His permissive will.
1/13/2009 10:37:25 PM - anonymous

This may have been on here for a while but it came right on time for me and my current issue(s).
1/27/2009 5:59:03 PM - anonymous

i havealways sent my prayers up to heaven with the possible solutions and how best God can solve some challenges that i have.This devoution is such a blessing!!!
2/8/2009 2:48:41 AM - anonymous

It's amazing how God leads us to great sites like this. I have been struggling with trusting God and beleiving in his goodness alot lately. My son was recently released after a 52 day stay in a burn unit. He is 13 years old and caught on fire before me while burning brush. He suffered burns over 50 of his body and shortly after being extinguished and waiting on the ambulance and helicopter to arrive he stated " God must be really mad at me!" I cried and stted God is not mad at you and he loves you! He said God hates me why did he do this to me?! I reassurred him God did not do this to him and that God loves him it was an accident. That was the last conversation I had with my son until he was removed from his ventilator almost a month after the accident. When he came off of the vent he was in and out of consciousness. At one point he chanted repeatedly "I rebuke you satan in the name of Jesus" and my older son and I prayed over him during this and told him he was safe and God was with him and encouraged him to continue to use Jesus' name to stave off whatever was tormenting him during this. He at one point stated "they say you are not my mother, that you are a liar" I cried and reassurred him that they were the liars and to hold strong to his faith. It was a terrible thing to witness him battling while his body was mutilated from the surgeries they did to save him. He lived through all nine surgeries and needs several more as his skin grafting will not grow as he does requiring more contractual releases throughout his life. So you see I at my lowest point not knowing if he would live or die dailiy questioned my faith, my relationship with his dad and my life in general. It hurt immensley to see his body so different now than when God gave him to me. I now know after all the prayers and love that has been sent to our family that God is in fact good and alive and well and listening to his peoples cries, but it was a really rough road getting back to here. I am stuck struggling with bitterness and depression at times and am having a really hard time in my relationship with his father, my ex husband, whom I have been trying to reconcile with for over two years already. So pls pray for me and our family as this struggle between good and evil will undoubetdly continue in our family since the evil one has some many areas of weakness to prey upon us. Peace
2/11/2009 9:35:00 AM - anonymous

This was good reading! It is a great "reminder" that we can trust God in all things. Romans 8:28 is one of my favorite Bible verses. It has carried me through many an event. I think that we do tend to compare God to others at times. Human beings will let us down. When we are really "open" to His lessons, we can see what he is trying to teach us through our trials. He is there! He is for us! PHT
3/19/2009 8:12:31 AM - anonymous

Ihave heard this phrase many times . Now i completly understnd. Thank God
6/21/2009 5:44:41 AM - anonymous

I think it was a particularly strong statement when it said that we tend to " rate God's goodness "..........when we don't believe that He is being good to us. Fancy that ! WE get to judge God !!!!! The absolute impertenance of that statement !!! But........I've done it......and I'm ashamed ! A very important and meaningful devotional..........thanks so much !.........peace and love.......Norma
8/16/2009 10:59:23 AM - nanal, Member of Delve into Jesus since 8/16/2009

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