Even If….

“God is good – all the time….” is something of a mantra these days in many circles.

I believe it to be a statement of truth; indeed even the bedrock of the Christian faith. The goodness of God, his kindness, his unconditional love, justice, forgiveness, and mercy. God is personal, a Father, the Creator, and the Saviour. His majesty is evident in the vast expanse of nature while his heart of love is most perfectly evidenced in Jesus his Son. He is the Way – in a world of many paths his footsteps are the ones to follow. He is the Truth – in a world of countless voices, opinions, and fabrications his truth is the one to seek and to know. He is the Life – in a world offering a smorgasbord of options to feed the appetites, his bread and his word is the healthiest and most satisfying.

God is indeed good – all the time.

Why do we say those words? What do they mean? I’ve heard those words spoken to cover a conversation like a blanket thrown over a fire smothers the flames. It leaves onlookers spluttering in the smoke as the cold creeps back to where the heat once brought comfort. Without a branch to hang on the fruit drops to the ground. “God is good” – can be fallen word fruit decaying in the dust if we’re not careful. When bad things happen we protest, “How can God be good and allow..?” Well, God can be good and allow bad stuff (and not desire it). Same as a good parent allows a child to rebel or do bad stuff – without approving or desiring – freedom to choose… we know the story.

Words matter. We all wish we hadn’t spoken some words. They are tied to tongues that imbue them with meaning. Those that float aimlessly and unattached in the air hold little substance. That’s what we’re witnessing around the world in our time. Words unhooked and unhinged from tongues willing to back them up with the vital ingredient that gives them life, power, integrity, and substance – character. Many toss words like grenades then run for cover to avoid responsibility and accountability. Social media has become a minefield.

Why is “God is Good – all the time” so popular a phrase – and comforting?

The answer is simple. It rests on the revelation of God in Jesus – where his word became flesh. He spoke what he lived. He never tossed out words without offering an explanation or backing up with his life. Jesus spoke truth with love. A love that healed the sick, comforted the despairing, and affirmed the outcast and the ‘sinner’. His love was neither self-serving nor political. It never compromised truth for personal gain. It was tough as nails – offered unapologetically even when the replies were shouted with stones, flogging, and crucifixion. His words touched flesh with hands of flesh.

God’s words in Jesus were trustworthy, never bought or sold. They are precious to many of us because they hold us in our darkest moments. They comfort us, they inspire us, they guide us, they affirm us, they give us hope, and they calm our fears. God’s goodness reminds us that he is not vindictive, that he loves us unconditionally, that he is merciful and kind. That nothing can separate us from his love. His words sooth us when life makes no sense, or when things go wrong and we don’t know where to turn. They calm the storms within. The mere sound of his voice speaking our name can resurrect us to life, cast out the orphan, or guide the wandering prodigal back to the hearth of home.

“God is good” is a declaration of hope and a reason for confidence. But even that phrase runs cold if we ourselves use it to deflect from our responsibilities, our character, or our lifestyle. The words of God emptied of embodiment in the person speaking, or devoid of love become noisy syllables bouncing off the hearer causing all manner of wounds. Wounds to the head, the mind, and the heart. Wounds that tease, mock, and destroy. Worst of all they distort and insult the one to whom they defer, God himself – who would never say that and then do this! Listen – out of context – how many words of Jesus can you hear that are detached from his servant heart, his unconditional love, his grace and mercy, relationship?

If we lean into the authentic substance of the nature of God, his character and his words, we cannot help but find unity, work out differences, increase mutual accountability and understanding. If God is good – all the time – then it stands to reason that we who speak those words and believe them – will want to ‘be good all the time’ as well. The world is starving to experience and encounter the character of Jesus in his words made flesh in the workplace, the home, the church, the political arena, and everywhere else. Nothing is beyond the bounds of his love or his care and influence.

What inspires us to the core is Jesus’ relentless love. His consistency with his very flawed disciples. His kindness to the lepers, prostitutes and outcasts. His embracing of a Roman centurion, Galilean fisherman, Jewish tax collector, nameless Gentiles, playful children, and eventually even you and me. We love to speak of his goodness. Because the truth is – despite all our numerous ‘issues’, flaws, misspoken words, and indefensible attitudes he never gives up on us. We whisper for mercy and discover forgiveness, we cry for comfort and he breathes out peace, we think it’s the end and he walks through our wall of anxiety and says, “Follow me, peace, do not be afraid.”

“God is good – all the time.”

Speak those words often and share your story without guile or distortion. Show others how his goodness has touched you and transformed you, nurtured you, and sustained you. The thing is – we can’t speak of his goodness and at the same time hold onto our desire to look perfect, or to sidestep out tendency to be ‘not so good’. It is precisely our awkward testimony of struggle, failure, and perhaps even despair that most exquisitely spotlights his goodness. When we share in one another’s’ sufferings and flaws we discover the goodness of God shines most brightly and heals beautifully and deeply. He gets the glory -and we are witnesses to amazing grace in real time – not just the words of a hymn.

When we discover God’s goodness we begin to have confidence in his faithfulness even if things don’t work out as we had hoped. We cease blaming him and in the midst of the broken turmoil of life we truly rest in him.

Here’s a man with a testimony and a song about – just that.

Even If – Mercy Me

They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I’m losing bad
I’ve stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it’ll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can’t

It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

My hope is you alone

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

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