CALL: “God is good!” RESPONSE: “All the time!”
CALL: “All the time!” RESPONSE: “God is good!”
It was a Don Moen song, but the saying “God is good, all the time,” has been around much longer than 1995 when that album/record came out. I get it – the saying, the song, the sentiment that is being communicated is an important one, though a part of me thinks that at times the core message of God’s predictably good goodness gets a bit lost in the (can I say?) cheesiness of the delivery of the message. This can be especially true when one is experiencing a WHOLE litany of things from life that are anything BUT good.
When a person’s world is falling apart (take a look at 2020 to see some examples of what this could look like physically, economically, emotionally, relationally, etc..) it can be over-simplistic, at best, to offer up a cliched “God is good, all the time” in the face of suffering & life devastation.
With that said, I won’t get caught up in a debate about whether or not I believe God is truly good, predictably good, all the time, because for me there is NO debate. I believe that He IS good, & that His actions towards His people are always good, working towards the accomplishment of His purposes & plans in & through our lives. Over the years, I’ve developed my own theology of suffering & a beginning understanding of why bad things happen, to I people, & to bad ones too.)
My late friend & hero-of-the-faith, Jerry Cook often talked about his experiences of being in the hospital while battling cancer. One particular story addresses a well-meaning individual who came into Jerry’s hospital room & woke him up with the question, “Jerry, WHY would God be doing or allowing this cancer to happen in your life?” It brings a smile to my face to remember Jerry’s righteously indignant response to the individual. In a way that only he could, Jerry sent the person out of the room with a declaration: “Jesus has had NO involvement in causing or prolonging this disease in my body, anymore than my oncology doctor could have any involvement in causing this disease? What kind of a doctor would that be? A BAD ONE. So, I can say that I know God to be predictably GOOD & He is only involved in my life in GOOD ways & for GOOD. Now leave me alone, because I don’t have the time or the energy to try to recover from you & the cancer too.”
Jerry’s reasoning (simplified & explained by me,) was this: SINCE Jesus is the source of our salvation, our healing, our restoration, our transformation, our forgiveness… literally EVERYTHING good in & around our lives, then He CANNOT & WILL NOT be anything other than predictably good in ALL of His interactions with us. God doesn’t cause bad things to happen in our lives (sickness, loss, death) to teach us lessons; He’s a MUCH better & more consistent teacher than that. Otherwise, how could we with “confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive MERCY & find GRACE to help in time of need? “Hebrews 4:16
It is His predictably good GOODNESS that gives us the confidence we need to RUN to Him, knowing that what we’re going to receive from Him is always going to be good, is always going to be working towards good.
As a result, one of the main prayers I pray over myself is that I would continue to ‘be-becoming’ more & more predictably good in my interactions with others… that NO MATTER WHAT the circumstances, NO MATTER WHAT bad/negative/destructive things are happening in someone’s life, they can KNOW beyond the shadow of a doubt, because of Jesus & His work in me, that they will find someone in me who is ever-growing toward predictable goodness. I’m claiming that “God-family trait,” & I’m looking to live it out every single day, NO MATTER WHAT sort of chaos, confusion, & darkness may be happening in the world around us.