47 – Is God Really Good?
There are lies waiting for us in the deep. Lies that strike deep in our souls, spreading through us and misleading us. And one of the most damaging—and dangerous—lies of all is this: “I’m starting to doubt God’s goodness.” Isn’t that a reasonable reaction? After all, aren’t we just being honest when we say that? On the surface, the answers are yes. But sometimes what’s “reasonable” and “honest”…aren’t. Come explore what we’re really saying when we buy into the lie that maybe God isn’t so good after all.
Maybe you’ve heard this prayer, or maybe you prayed it yourself as a child: “God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food.” For such a simple prayer, it contains incredibly important theology. But words sometimes have a way of becoming rote. We speak them and don’t think about what they really deep down truly say.
Today we want to focus on the phrase “God is Good,” because when things go awry in our life, or when they’re hard, or we suffer, or loved ones suffer, It’s easy to question: Is God really good?
What does it take to bring us to that place? What makes people say they doubt God’s goodness?
- Our prayers aren’t answered when and how we want
- We find ourselves in difficult circumstances longer than we think we should be there
- People, especially other believers, hurt us
- There is so much evil in the world
Oh, the temptation to take hold, to embrace the doubt, to question God’s goodness! Life can be so hard! Overflowing with struggle. Not the “I-can’t-find-a-parking-spot-at-CostCo” kind (as irritating as those may be), but the struggles where home or family or security or life are in peril. Hurt and fear leave us feeling abandoned. And as each blow lands on already bruised places in our spirit, we wonder what God is doing.
Is God still good, even in the deep places? Does being in deep places change His goodness?
It’s okay to struggle. It’s even okay to doubt. But we need to move from doubt to trust that God is who He says He is.
Do we change our God based on circumstances? What do we give more attention to—what’s happening or God’s character as shown to us in Scripture? Do we assign more power to God, or to whatever is assaulting us? Where do we spend our time—struggling and fighting against the assault or seeking God?
When we let ourselves focus on the struggle, when we become steeped in the pain and consequences of whatever is happening, it has a tendency to numb us. Overwhelm us. Is it any wonder, then, that we can’t FEEL God? And because we can’t feel Him we think He isn’t there. And that’s when the doubting…the questions start.
But here’s the thing, friends. While I agree that God is big and powerful enough to handle our doubts, do you understand what you’re really saying when you say you “doubt God’s goodness”? This isn’t just some harmless response to bad times. This is something far more. This is questioning whether God is who He says He is.
When we allow these thoughts—these blatant lies—into our hearts and minds, we’re not just doubting an aspect or behavior of God—we’re questioning God Himself. Think about it. We, the creation, are sticking out our chins and saying to our Creator, “Prove you’re who you say you are.”
Now, I’m not saying this doesn’t seem to be an understandable response. We’re human, and we’re frail, and we can only take so much, right? And it’s not like you’d be the first to do this. Remember good ol’ Job? God lets him talk and ponder and even complain and doubt Him. And then, in Chapter 38, God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind:
Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’
And so it goes for a total of 70 verses, and THEN:
The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!”
Job gets a moment to respond with: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”
Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:
Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Will you discredit My justice and condemn Me just to prove you are right? Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like His? All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty.
And on God goes, speaking for another couple of chapters. After all of this truth from Almighty God, Job’s reply in chapter 42 is wonderful:
I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.
Folks, when we say things like we’re doubting God’s goodness, we, like Job, speak out of hearing about Him, but without SEEING Him. We speak without knowledge and understanding of just who God is. And without trusting Him who laid the earth’s foundation, who formed us, who is sovereign over EVERYTHING.
So we want to encourage you in that trust. The trust that God is who He says He is. That He not only does good things, but He IS good. To deny His goodness is to deny He is God. When we do that, we are guilty of exchanging His glory for the glory of something in the image of man.
- “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” Romans 1:22-23
- “‘Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But My people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,’ declares the Lord. ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.’” Jeremiah 2:11-13
So what’s the truth?
God is good.
Seems like such a cliché. We’re so inclined to just brush that aside. But here’s the thing: God’s truth is profound, and yet it’s also simple. Those three words aren’t a cliche. They’re deep, unchanging, unshakable TRUTH. Consider these definitions of good and the Scriptures that reveal how that relates to God:
- Of a favorable character or tendency
“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.’” Psalm 16:2
“You are good, and what You do is good; teach me Your decrees.” Psalm 119:68
- Not depreciated
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:8
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last and there is no God besides Me…Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’” Isaiah 44
God doesn’t change, you can’t take away from who He is.
- Virtuous, right, deserving of respect
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:11
- Representative of high standards and skill
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36
- Benevolent; being good to others
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25-26
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
So the next time you’re immersed in the deep, and you find yourself unable to feel God’s presence, and that lie about God tries to slip into your heart and mind, stop. Remind yourself instead that God is who He says He is. He IS good. And immerse yourself instead in this truth from 1 Peter, chapter 1:
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
We want to hear from you!
What helps you remember God’s goodness, even in the difficult places?