Hidden from His Goodness
a Devotion, by Lynne Tagawa
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations.—Ps 100:5
Maybe you know someone whose child was born with a severe heart defect. Or a girlfriend whose marriage is in tatters. Maybe that someone is you. Has the goodness of God dimmed before your eyes? Or have you decided that God is, in fact, a liar?
I don’t think it’s good enough to make the observation that most children are born healthy. It’s not good enough to say that while your marriage may be shattered, at least you have your health. Or your 401(k).
In fact, I never really cared for the hymn, “Count Your Blessings.” It’s true that we should be thankful. That’s actually a command of God. But the idea of counting your blessings as a means of cheering yourself up sounds like positive thinking philosophy, not Christianity. We give thanks to a worthy God because of Who He is and what He has done. Thanksgiving is an act of worship, not a self-help strategy.
Millennia ago, a man named Job did everything right. He managed his property well. He raised his kids properly—and prayed for them all the time, which was especially necessary now that they were grown and out of the house. He worshiped God, and in the book of Job chapter one we find that God considered Job to be “righteous.”
Then God allows Satan to take it all away—we would say that tragedy strikes. Job’s sons and daughters are killed. His goods are stolen. Some weird sort of disease afflicts him, his wife loses any trust in God, and his so-called friends heap blame on him, telling him that it’s all because he sinned somehow.
Job is crushed. He wishes he could die. But instead of cursing God (his wife’s advice) he simply complains. It’s as if he’s in a pitch-black room—but there’s a crack of light showing under a door, and he faces it. Clumsily, he turns to the only one Who has answers. Sandwiched in between his groaning we catch amazing glimpses of faith:
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God . . .Job 19:25-26
We all know the end of the story. After learning some huge lessons about the sovereignty of His Creator and his own unworthiness, Job is restored. But we still might come away with the question: is the God Who did this to Job really good?
Perhaps we confuse our own idea of what is “good” with the biblical definition. To us, we have “good” days and “bad” days. We define them by how well things go for us. It’s a totally self-centered definition.
Here’s God’s definition, found in Exodus 33:19, as the Lord speaks to Moses:
Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
In this passage we see the Lord revealing Himself in a special way to Moses. He speaks of His “goodness”—but the passage seems to focus on the majesty and sovereignty of God. How is this related?
In many passages of Scripture speaking of the goodness of God, we find his mercy mentioned. They are intimately connected. But what is mercy? Something deserved? No, of course not. Job learned that. After seeing the glory of God, he describes himself as “vile.” He realizes afresh that it’s all of mercy—and grace.
Moses was actually hidden in a cleft of a rock while God’s “goodness” passed before him, for his own protection. A full exposure would have killed him. Wow.
When “bad” things happen, it’s okay to feel bad, like Job. The fact that others suffered before us doesn’t mean we are to be stoic about it. They felt it. Christ felt it. But it’s also a time for worship. Even if all you can do is groan to God.
Lynne Tagawa is an educator, author, and editor. The author of Sam Houston’s Republic, she lives in Texas with her husband.
Website: Line Upon Line www.lynne.tagawa.com