A little over a year ago I sat across the table from my brother at dinner. He wanted to update me on what was going on in his life — some super exciting things.
I wanted to be happy for him and I think I honestly was but inwardly, I was trying to sort it all out. I didn’t feel happy for him.
“God is just so good” my brother said, He’s not good to me like that, I thought.
I felt ashamed for even thinking it. Jealousy, doubt, pride, selfishness, questions, frustration swirled in my heart. (obviously there were other things going on that needed dealt with)
I knew God was good. I knew the truth of His word. I knew how He had demonstrated His faithfulness in the past. But my reality wasn’t lining up. Or, it wasn’t lining up the way I thought it should…
In my pride, I thought God owed me one; I thought my ideas were better than His. I wanted to know why life didn’t seem fair. Why a + b didn’t equal c.
The answers didn’t come immediately. Eventually I forgot about that conversation. But God didn’t.
Over the past year, the scriptures about God’s goodness have been jumping out at me. I didn’t go looking for them, I didn’t set out to study God’s goodness but in His kindness, He’s revealing it.
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing ~Ps. 34:10
The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly ~Ps. 84:11
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you… ~Ps. 31:19
Slowly, my perspective began to shift. I began to see the Lord’s abundance in areas I had labeled as lack. I saw His provision in situations I had no control over.
My circumstances didn’t really change much. And although I would count myself as an optimistic realist, it wasn’t as if I willed myself to “look on the bright side”— this isn’t some power of positive thinking thing.
I really can’t say what caused the shift except for the Holy Spirit refining my heart and teaching me to rest in Him.
The night I sat across from my brother, it wasn’t just my body that was hungry, my soul was too. I was weary and operating from a scarcity mentality; I wanted to be justified. As I compared my life to my brother’s (bad idea in the first place), all I saw were my areas of lack. Spiritually, I was starving for some reassurance of God’s sufficiency.
Thankfully, this isn’t a new phenomena but something God’s people have experienced for millennia.
In chapter 31 of Jeremiah, the prophet, reminds Israel that exile will not last forever, the Lord is faithful, and redemption + restoration is promised. He says God’s people “shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord”…and God promises, “I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness” ~Jer. 31:14
The Psalmist reminds us of this promise,
For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things ~Ps. 107:9
Then Jesus takes it a little further in the Sermon on the Mount
Blessed are the who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied ~Matt. 5:6
Our longings for “how things should be” echo God’s desire for a restored world. It’s not wrong to feel disappointed or to ask why things don’t seem to be lining up as we expected. But how we steward these feelings and frustrations can have an impact on the trajectory of our next steps.
Our doubt of God’s goodness, reveals where our heart seeks fulfillment. It forces us to reevaluate expectations. Am I trusting God’s goodness because my external environment validates my standard of good? Or am I trusting God’s goodness because HE is the standard of good?
My circumstances do not dictate God’s goodness. Conversely, God’s goodness does not dictate my circumstances.
David writes in Psalm 13: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me. (v. 2). And later, the author of Psalm 116 (possibly David again), preaches to their own heart saying, “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (v. 7).
Recognizing God’s goodness is a process of surrender; placing our hope in the One who holds all things together. It’s trusting that He does have a plan and realizing our sight is limited.
Looking at the context of the scriptures at the beginning of this post, it seems there is a direct correlation between fixing our eyes, minds, and hearts on the Lord and recognizing His goodness. Psalm 27 for example:
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living ~Ps. 27:13
This comes after David has declared God to be His protector and asked for mercy. It comes after He emphasizes His desire to follow the Lord wholeheartedly “One thing I ask…your face, Lord, I will seek” (v. 4, 8)
When we see Him for the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly righteous, impeccably just, Creator who is worthy of all, our eyes are opened to His goodness and grace.
We’ll never see God’s goodness if we’re looking inward, holding on to our ideas of how the world should be. But if we truly trust we can say with the Psalmist, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing” and “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance (Ps. 16:2, 5,6)
The other night we were singing Goodness of God and I was thinking about how God had really shown me His goodness over the past year. My heart was agreeing with the lyrics when I remembered the conversation I had with my brother 18 months ago.
God really is good. God really is kind.
Because He, Himself, is good — It’s in His nature
May we remember in the ebb and flow of our everyday that the Lord’s goodness is constant. May He open our hearts to see His abundance. And may our souls find rest in trusting Him. Let us praise Him for what He has done and hope in His name, for His name is good (Ps. 52:9)