by Lauren N.
The words came flooding out of her: “How could a good God allow this to happen?” A friend recently shared her frustration over a difficult situation with me. It feels like a valid question, and it is relatable for most of us. It’s a question I have wrestled with myself. In the circumstances that surround us right now due to COVID-19, I wonder how many people have struggled with this very idea. Whether looking at the world around us or considering our own circumstances, each of us has something in our life that we would like to be different. Our suffering takes different forms, but it impacts all of us in some way. Yet, I’ve learned through my own moments of questioning God’s goodness that the relief I long for is never what I truly need.
Let me explain. If you would have asked me ten years ago what I thought my life would look like, I would have answered that I would be married with kids. But that has not been God’s plan for my life so far. Years ago, I would have said that my circumstances needed to change in order to truly experience and believe God’s goodness. I believed that my circumstances were the best indicator of God’s goodness—how often we subconsciously adopt this belief.
Without realizing it, we instinctively measure God’s goodness based on what He gives instead of who He is. We want circumstances to change and suffering to cease. We think then we’ll be able to experience God’s goodness. Yet, we know that our circumstances are not reliable indicators of God’s goodness—they are ever changing! So if we do not experience God’s goodness through our circumstances alone, where can it be found?
God’s goodness is found in the knowledge of His character, revealed to us through His Word. Wayne Grudem in Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know states, “There is no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character and his approval of whatever is consistent with that character.” We can know God is good by what we read and see throughout scripture. We learn that God is good, in and of Himself. Psalm 119:68a says, “You are good and do good.”
Grudem goes on to explain that God’s goodness is also clearly revealed to us by His mercy toward us. Romans 5:6-8 is a perfect reflection of this. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Before trusting in Christ, we rebelled against Him and were dead in our sin. We were totally undeserving of His grace. The very fact that God sent His Son to the cross to make a way for us to know Him demonstrates His great mercy and ultimate goodness toward us! This was the greatest sacrifice God could make. We deserve nothing, and yet He gives us everything we need in Christ. What goodness can be found reflecting on this fact!
We need God to help us see who He is. It is not sufficient to know about His character – it requires the action of the Spirit to truly open our eyes and hearts to understand His goodness and glory. God desires for us to experience His goodness through the transforming work of the Spirit inside of us, allowing us to know Him personally.
As much as we may think otherwise, no amount of “good” circumstances (as we define them) could ever truly convince us of God’s goodness. It is not in our experience of life circumstances, but in experiencing and trusting in God’s character that we encounter His goodness. And oh, how we need God to change our hearts to desire him above our circumstances!
Ironically, it has been through my singleness, rather than changing my circumstances, that God has revealed His goodness to me. Instead of giving me what I thought I needed to believe He was good, He gave me Himself. He has used a circumstance that I would not have chosen for myself to draw me into deeper fellowship with Him, and to experience the goodness found in Him alone. May God continue to convince our hearts of this and enable us to say with certainty, “O taste and see that the Lord is good!” Psalm 34:8