Everyday I declare the Goodness of God. I look for it and see it often in my own life or in the life of someone I know. I see it in His Word or played out on the world’s stage in some miracle unexplainable by man. I know He is good. I trust in His goodness. I rehearse it daily in prayer and praise to Him, and I proclaim it often to others. However, there are days when the goodness is overshadowed by the disappointments in life or the hurtful deeds and words of another. There are, I confess, moments when I find myself tempted to doubt or at the very least question ‘it’. *I mean where is His goodness in job loss or the devastating illness of a loved one? Where is ‘it’ in financial struggles, the hurtful words of a friend, or when a spouse walks out on the marriage? Where is His goodness when the ones we trust aren’t honest with us or a trusted confident betrays us? Where is it when the something good we’ve waited for comes – and then just as quickly is taken away. Where is it when ________? You fill in the blank. I would venture to say that if we are honest we can all fill in that blank.
We may not want to admit it but, I believe, we’ve all experienced something that has made us at least wonder, even for a fleeting second, if God is really good then why did this happen? When it does, we must be careful and quick to remember – when “we do not see God’s hand we can trust His heart”*. If we do not act quickly with the truths that we know – the enemy will gain a foothold and we will find ourselves tempted with bitterness, anger, ungodly responses, and all sorts of other sin. Satan’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy and there’s no greater destruction he would take pleasure in than to make us doubt or turn away from our God. Peter called the devil an adversary and told the Jewish Christians of his day that if they would “resist” the devil he would flee from them. Just in case we think this warning was only for the Jewish Christians of Peter’s day, we must remember that God gave us His word and said it “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”. When doubts come we must be prepared to use our knowledge from God’s Word to stand firm. To be prepared we must put into practice the words Paul wrote to Timothy and train for godliness.
Physical training is good but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)
To train for godliness we must first and foremost know God’s Word so that we can put our training into practice. For instance -when we know that His Word says He is our provider we must learn to trust Him to provide in our time of need. The same is true of the proclamation that He is our deliverer, when faced with trying situations we must trust that He will deliver us. Trusting God to be faithful as His Word declares may not always be easy but it is always beneficial, developing an enduring faith. When we practice trusting, despite the inevitable times when He doesn’t deliver or provide exactly as we requested or hoped, we will no doubt, in time, experience Him to be a faithful provider and deliverer and so much more. These experiences will foster a personal relationship with God. They will also develop a confidence that is built up over time through the implementation of trusting, waiting, and reciprocal faithfulness to Him. For an example of such confidence, consider David’s words to Saul when Saul challenged his ability to face the giant, Goliath.
The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:37
Again, when threatened by the giant himself, David recalls the faithfulness He has seen from God and declares his full confidence to be in Him – even in this difficult and life-threatening situation. From these experiences with His God came his confident reply to Goliath’s threat:
You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel’s armies – You have defied Him. Today, the LORD will hand you over to me. Today, I’ll strike you down, cut your head off and give the corpses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the creatures of the earth. Then all the world will know that Israel has a God, and this whole assembly will know that it is not by sword or by spear that the LORD saves, for the battle is the LORD’S. He will hand you over to us. 1 Samuel 17:45-47
Ah, and there is the answer. We don’t just see His goodness when life is problem free – we see it in the realization that the battles of this life, the temptations of this fallen world we live in, or the full on attacks of our enemy, the devil – belong to the LORD. His goodness shines when we remember Who He is and what He has done on our behalf already. It is known when we know Whose we are and what it means to belong to Him. We experience it when it becomes evident that He has equipped us not just with armor and weapons for the battle but with everything we need for life and godliness. The answer lies in walking by faith and not by sight and keeping our eyes on the author and the perfecter of our faith. It is in knowing that He has promised a way of escape when we are tempted, looking for that way and taking it; and yes, it is in humbling ourselves before our God, resisting the devil – and believing he will flee. God’s Word is TRUTH and I believe His TRUTH sets us free not only from the law of sin and death but from the attacks, the fears, the battles, and the assault of the enemy. If we aren’t trained and ready with the TRUTH – when the doubts come – we will be shaken; but, if we set the LORD always before us, and know that He is at our right hand we will, like David, stand in the face of our problems or the adversary and proclaim “I come against you in the name of the LORD, my God!”
*On a personal note: Like David, I have learned that God can be trusted. I have tasted and seen His goodness in all of the difficult situations listed in the opening paragraph. So, when the days come where the disappointments, and hurts, or life’s challenges threaten to overshadow the goodness of God I practice David’s example of recalling what the LORD has done. I write it, or speak it out loud, or whisper it in a prayer, and I proclaim – Father I cannot see or understand what You’re doing or allowing, but I know You are Good and I will trust You. When doubts arise, I have learned to practice recalling His goodness and trusting His heart. I have those in my life that will come along side of me and remind me of the truth and I have often had to play that role in the lives of others. I am continually learning to walk by His Spirit, who lives in me and was given to teach me and remind me of everything Christ said (John 14:26). If you do not know God I would love to introduce Him to you, or if you are struggling to trust Him through a present battle I would be happy to pray for you – please just leave a reply that says I want to know Him – or pray for me.