Today’s post is a guest post from my good friend and our UMR Regional Minister, Dr. Jim Renke. You can read all his insightful thoughts at www.jimrenke.com.
Its an interesting point to note that when Jesus was addressed as "Good Teacher," he said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone (Lk. 18:19)." Jesus was reminding his hearers that "goodness" is an essential characteristic of God.
When things are tough, one of the great questions we have is, “how can a good God allow all this?” It’s a fair question. But it presupposes that what we think is good, is actually good. We have a perspective that is admittedly limited. Many of us think cheeseburgers are good. But they are not, if you want to actually nourish your body with your food. Our definition of good has a lot to do with our value system and our over-arching purpose.
If our value system is wrapped up in the here and now, then suffering and struggling is a horrible violation of how we want to experience life now. But if we value the eternal, growth, maturity, transformation, etc., our ideas of what is good, will be drastically changed. Because it is in the hard times that we are formed into something new, especially when we grow through it under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit.
Author and theologian, Peter Kreeft, wrote in his book, “Making Sense Out of Suffering”, these words, “If we love God, we will understand that everything is grace, that Job’s sores were grace, that Job’s abandonment was grace, that even Jesus’ abandonment (‘My god, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’) was grace. Even the delay of grace is grace. Suffering is grace. The cross is grace. The grave is grace. Even hell is made of God’s love and grace, experienced as pain by those who hate it. There is nothing but God’s love. ‘Everything is grace.’”
When you read the word grace in the paragraph above, replace it with the words “a good gift.” This can be a tough exercise because it confronts our idea of what is good. But doing this teaches us that all things God gives to us are good gifts, given to accomplish His good purposes. He can only give what is good because He is good.
Rather than judging the goodness of God by our circumstances, let’s define our circumstances by the goodness of God. No matter what we are going through, God is good and He is bringing about His good work in our lives. To believe this is the beginning of experiencing the goodness of God in every area and every experience of our lives.