God is good. All the time. And all the time...you know how it goes. We sing about it. We teach it to our kids. We quote scripture to back it up. But do we really understand what we're saying?
Good. What does it mean? Safe? Healthy? Working the job we want? Living in the home we desire? Getting our kids into the program we chose? This is the Western definition of good. And because we've allowed the word to morph into this selfish and petty meaning, it's lost it's luster. We've removed it's power. And in the process we've turned the idea of our God into this store clerk ready and waiting to fill our orders of the next thing we want that will make our lives "good."
Websters defines good as "what is morally right; righteous" or of "benefit or advantage to someone or something." It's the second definition that has stuck in our culture. But that first idea. Morally right. Righteous. Is that what we're asking for when we pray for those desired outcomes? It should be, right? Often when we pray we're laying out this laundry list of all the ways and things God can do to bring "good" into our lives. As if he needs our understanding of the circumstances and help to sort it all out. As if His eye had been taken off of of the situation and now we need to let Him know what the next best step is. It makes me think of the stories and explanations I get from my 5 year old when he's trying to convince me that he needs his tab back or wants a bowl of ice cream. Full of reasons and whining to get to his desired outcome, but nothing supporting the point that ice cream and youtube videos would be the moral thing to do and bring us all closer to God.
He once threw a major fit and hid his head under his step stool because I wouldn't let him play with raw chicken breast. How many times do we get mad at God or lose our faith in His power or love for us when He answers our requests with no? Maybe, just maybe He knows more than we do. Maybe He knows that if He gave us what we were asking for, we'd be at risk for serious pain or even death. Maybe He knows that "good" would not last. And He's holding out for something better for us.
If this earthly good really is what we expect from our God - the house, the job, the behavior we've begged for from that child, the ice cream - then how do we pair that up against what is happening all around us? That mother who hides her child from terrorists. Isn't her God also good? The father who doesn't get the diagnosis he had prayed for. Does he not serve the same good God? The young women who has just had taken from her every bit of innocence. Why is He not so "good" to her? What about the missionaries who have risked their lives delivering the very good news of Christ? Certainly if God is going to be "good" to anyone, it would be them. Yet some do not return. Children are killed. Fathers die. Innocence is lost. Missionaries are sacrificed. How can any of this be good?
We must stop thinking of good as beneficial to our current situation. Good is salvation. Good is whatever brings glory to God. It is eternity with our Heavenly Father. It is walking this life in a way that points everyone we touch to the one and only good thing: Christ.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
This earthly life withers and fades away and so will all the "good" we've asked for; the diploma, the job, the house, anything that adds up to worldly success will be burnt up and gone forever. We must keep our eyes fixed on eternity. That is the good that lasts. He's using these earthly trials, these "bad" things to strengthen us, to save us, to save others. And that is good. When we equate God to a short order cook who we expect to deliver the order according to our specs, we have belittled His power and His true desires. It's not happiness He wants for us, it's holiness. That is good.
A lot of the good we ask for might really be just like that ice cream and youtube videos my youngest wants for his morning routine or that raw chicken breast to play with. Answering either of these requests with a yes would not usually be considered good parenting. As adults, we understand this because we can see further than the next five minutes. We must trust our Heavenly Father in the same way. When He doesn't open that door we've been begging Him to knock down for us, maybe it IS a good thing.
No matter the circumstances. He is good. That does not change. Even if my earthly father fails. Even if my child dies. Even if my son walks away. He is still worthy of praise. He is still faithful.
He is still good.