No one is good but God alone. – Luke 18:19
I know this might paint me in a bad light, but I can’t stand Christian clichés and Christian sayings. My top three would probably be “Everything happens for a reason,” “God needed another little angel,” and of course, the top one you can probably guess from my title, and I’m going to say it even though you just might not read anything from me ever again, “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” Yes, the God’s Not Dead movie about drove me insane. Not really, I just rolled my eyes a lot.
I don’t really have a problem with the saying itself, God is good, but there are vastly different reasons why the Bible tells us, and why the overwhelming majority of modern day American Christians tells us. The American Christian tells us because they got the job, got the healing, closed on the house, or simply had a situation really turn out in their favor. Yes, I’ve had great things happen to me, and I’ve said, “God is good,” because He is. I really believe that.
Yet, I’ve also been on the other side of it. I didn’t get the job I applied for. I was telling everyone for the past month I was going to be a dad, but after the last visit to the doctor, I don’t get to say it anymore. In fact, I have to undo their excitement one by one over the next several months as they ask me, “How is your wife and baby?” I don’t want to go on and on with these examples, I’m sure you get my drift. I’m only saying that I’ve never seen or heard someone say, “Just lost our baby . . . God is good.”
But, you know what? He still is good.
Here is the thing: When the Bible tells us, or points to the fact that God is good, it is for assurance. It is almost like God knew that there would be times where we would need to be convinced. I know there are times that I’ve needed convincing. There are certainly times where I have had to believe the written word that God was good and hold on to it for dear life because, if I was honest, I doubted His goodness. Somehow we’ve created a Christian culture where it isn’t okay to say that out loud.
I could probably write and preach on this for days, but I want to leave you with one example. In 1 Samuel chapter 3, God speaks to Samuel for the first time. He tells Samuel that Eli’s two sons are going to die because they are representing Him poorly as priests. Samuel obviously doesn’t want to tell Eli the bad news, yet Eli tells Samuel, “May God deal with you ever so severely if you hide anything from me.” So, Samuel reluctantly told him. Eli’s response is astounding to me . . .
“He is the LORD, let Him do what is good in His eyes.” — 1 Samuel 3:17
Let that sink in. Imagine a Facebook post from 3,000 years ago that read, “God just let me know that my two sons are going to die soon . . . God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m so thankful for stories like these. When things don’t go my way and I want to believe God is against me, I hold on to the fact that He is good. I hold on to the fact that He is working in my life and knows what is best for me. These stories help me to keep my trust in Him. If Eli had that kind of faith and trust, I can at least ask God to give me that same kind of faith and trust, even if I don’t have it.
Of course God is good when He joins Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and saves them from the fire. I would scream, “God is good” after that, too. But could I still shout it as they were lighting the fire to burn me at a stake with my little ones and family watching? Over and over you read that is exactly what they did in Foxe’s Martyrs.
I’m not telling you to stop saying that God is good. He is. Just ask yourself if you can say it in every situation . . . not just the ones that work out on your behalf.