“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5, NIV).
Hand-painted on reclaimed wood. Each letter carefully formed in the perfect shade for my living room.
But was it true?
As I looked at it, it seemed to taunt me.
We had just received some hard-hitting news about my mother-in-law in her ongoing battle with cancer. Our family had already suffered the pain of losing my lovely sister-in-law eighteen months previously - my brother-in-law was without a wife and his three young children without a mother.
And yet, there was my beautiful text staring at me, declaring “the Lord is good”.
The words jarred with the pain in my heart.
Do I believe the Lord can be good and still allow all of this?
How do you reconcile this truth when you are faced with suffering, loss, and pain?
I turned that phrase over in my mind all week, then something dawned on me.
This is a declaration of God’s character - something that is unchanging. It is just who He is. The Lord, He is good.
In difficult times we come face to face with a choice. Will we still say, “the Lord is good”, despite the circumstances we are going through?
Can we say it honestly?
When the situation is definitely not good - bringing fear, pain and heartache - how can we declare that the Lord is good?
The theme of God’s goodness runs all the way through the Bible.
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good”—(Genesis 1:31).
When He brought the Israelites out of Egypt
“Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the Lord had done for Israel”—(Exodus 18:9).
When He gave the law
“keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good”—(Deuteronomy 10:13)
In Hebrew poetry
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him”—(Psalm 34:8)
And then, the greatest display of God’s goodness is seen when we move into the New Testament and see God providing a Saviour for us - His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death”—(Luke 1:78,79)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”—(John 3:16)
Darker Strand of Sin
Alongside the thread of God’s goodness, however, a darker strand is woven too. One of sin, death, disease, wars, betrayals, murders. God does not paint a picture of a world free from trouble. Far from it! This world was marred by sin in Genesis chapter 3, and it wasn’t long until the first murder occurred.
All the way through the story of the Bible, the consequences rumble on, causing pain and suffering.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now”—(Romans 8:22)
When I was in my late teens, I really wrestled with this. How can there be a good God and at the same time so much suffering in the world?
I’m not saying I have all the answers now, but there was one verse that really helped me at that time.
“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him”—(Nahum 1:7)
The Lord is good … the day of trouble …
Side by side.
Both real and true.
I came across other verses…
“In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me”—(Psalm 27:5)
“You are my hiding place and my shield…Hold me up and I shall be safe”—(Psalm 119:114,117)
God is not promising a trouble-free life, rather He seems to be anticipating hard times.
So many of the descriptions of God wouldn’t be necessary if life was one long, smooth ride.
“He knows those who trust in Him”.
This is so personal. God Himself knows when we are trusting in Him.
When we step out in faith, placing our own life and circumstances into God’s hands - trusting God with whatever is happening - we discover that the promise is real.
God is a very present help in times of trouble.
God Himself is with us. He will make His presence known. We find that the promise is not that God will fix everything, but He will reveal Himself to us, and we will know without a shadow of a doubt that God is real and God is good. We can rest in Him in the middle of the storm that swirls around us. He knows us, He is holding us, and He will not let us go.
As I considered all of this, I realised something.
I do still believe it.
The Lord is good.
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart”—(Psalm 27:13,14).