I’d like to share a personal struggle I have with one well-known word. My struggle with this very word causes me to write about it as, many times, it has forced thistle to grow in my heart. The word is:
I hear a lot about the word “good”. I hear how God is good. I hear about how God blesses me. He sells my houses, heals my children, brings me money, validates my desires, and causes things to happen that are good for me and my family. God is on my side with financing, fruitful living, child rearing, and parking lot spaces. He fills me up so that I am overflowing. Yes, God is good. And He’s not just good, He’s my personal good. Somewhere in all my goodness God is indicating that He is for me, He loves me, He is blessing me, and that I rest secured in His favor. I find it logical to equate good things in my life with God’s favor on me, because surely I am performing a lot of good? I serve weekly at church, drain the volunteer cup at school, and scribble what little I have left on busied notes for my family. Based on my perception of goodness, God’s blessings abound, like libations in shot glasses.
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
I used to think blessing from God came in the way of good things like comfortable personal situations, nice houses, new cars, and even-keeled living. Christian living was a nicely wrapped package based on cause and effect. Its best evidence wasn’t attained through hardships or difficulties. And so summing it up, I closed the Bible on one final sentence: God is good, and good things in my life prove God loves me.
But, this view of “God and good” burrowed deep holes through my identity. Misguided reasoning spawned craftily from my mind, straight into my heart, and eventually out of my mouth certain opinions formed. I held truth up to the idea that life with Christ would avert bad, that God would protect me from bad because of His great love for me. Surely, because He loved me He would protect me from harm.
Then one day… bad happened.
My weak house of righteous living got devoured by wolves. I watched while a feeble foundation of thinking got blown down, storm after storm. I stumbled along a challenging wilderness where my beliefs were tested. I was left deeply shaken. My thinking swerved off course.
It was during that difficult circumstance that something significant happened:
I found more of God, pulling for more of me, in the midst of the bad.
I felt a stronger dependence on Him. His love etched a deeper engraving on my soul, while the opposite of good happened. The bad winds blew through my life full of spit and howl. And to my surprise, it strengthened my faith, after each debilitating blow. I found healing in my own wild fire. I became more abundantly me. When I next stood in front of the mirror deep scars symbolizing rich life— life overcoming— looked back at me.
2 Corinthians 4:10
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
It’s comforting to think the scars of hardships in our lives can help Jesus continue his mission on earth. It’s more strangely comforting to think we carry inside of our hardships the revelations that help us to become more like Jesus. While my humanness searched for ways to run and flee from vulnerability and weakness, God’s love pushed me right into the very midst of it. It made a way for me to know myself and Him deeper.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
No, my strength doesn’t prove God’s goodness. He is good, all knowing. Good is relative; God is not relative. He does not change. He is absolute. Absolute-knowing. Absolute-loving. Absolute-living. My fullness of faith does not develop in the weak definition of good where notions of bad might stiffen soft peaks of a fragile heart. My fullness of faith deepens in the garden of good and bad— where I discover places in my heart of a wilder communication. There, the conversation begins with One who is all-knowing, all-loving, all-caring and full of truth and righteousness. He is Master, Abba-Father, Redeemer, Deliverer, Savior, The Everlasting God— and, I am finding, an all-knowing Good at my side in crossing any wilderness of bad.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.