When life is challenging it is not unusual for people to talk about the goodness of God.
One person says… “How can you still think God is good?” Another says… “God has planned this for good”…
I’m going to clear this up to begin with… There are a few things that I don’t believe to be true about the goodness of God.
I don’t for one moment believe that childhood cancer is part of God’s “good” plan for the life of my son or our family! I don’t for one moment believe that sickness and suffering is ever part of God’s perfect plan for any individual or family.
Throughout Lent 2020 I’m trying to reflect on a song each day that has been meaningful to me. One of the songs that has struck me recently is “Goodness of God” from Bethel Music. The lyrics of this song that I just can’t get out of my head are from the bridge…
“Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now I give You everything
‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it keeps running after me”.
Psalm 23 is probably the best known of all the Psalms – a Psalm that many will have heard read at funerals and therefore associate with death and difficult times. The lyrics of the bridge (above) are not unlike the words of Psalm 23:6 (below):
“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…
The song speaks of the goodness of God running after us, the Psalm speaks of the goodness of God following us. One Bible commentator points out that the Hebrew verb that in many translations has been written as “follow” actually “has the more active sense of ‘pursue’. God is in active pursuit of the psalmist!”
I love the thought that God doesn’t just gently follow along behind us with goodness hoping that we might catch a glimpse of it but that the goodness of God is in active pursuit of us so that we cannot miss it!
This has been my experience of God’s goodness and at this moment in time, I don’t doubt that God is good.
I want to tell you why, but before I go any further I want to acknowledge that while I am able to believe in God’s goodness now, I have no idea if I will always feel this way in the future. There may be times to come when I struggle, when I’m angry and I just can’t see any “good”. I honestly don’t know if I have any control over this. I hope that writing it down now will help me if that day comes… I can’t guarantee that it will.
For now, here’s how I know that God is good…
I know it to be true because this goodness has pursued me and my family in so many ways…
Through our wider family who have supported us
Through the thousands of people who have been praying for us
Through those who have prayed with us
Through text messages, e-mails, letters and cards
Through well people sitting around our extended table
Through words that we have been given
Through times spent in worship
Through being intensely aware of God’s presence
Through Timothy’s incredible attitude
Through the hugs of our boys
Through the friends who have cried with us on the bad days
Through the friends that have laughed with us on the good days
Through Timothy’s friends
Through our local church family
Through the Methodist (and wider church) community in Ireland, Europe and further afield
Through understanding and supportive employers and colleagues, and work that brings us joy
Through the hospital teams in Belfast and Bristol
Through the support of the schools that our children attend
Through the incredible families we met in Sam’s House
Through the Cancer Fund for Children and the Care Free Choir
Through all the meals that have turned up on our doorstep (and a puppy too!)
Through people who have offered us practical help
Through thoughtful and helpful gifts
Through financial provision
Through trips away and times of fun and joy
Through wishes granted
Through unexplainable peace
Through prayers answered
Through mini-miracle, after mini-miracle, after mini-miracle – and maybe some big ones we’re not aware of!
I don’t for one moment believe that childhood cancer is part of God’s “good” plan for the life of my son or our family!
I don’t for one moment believe that sickness and suffering is ever part of God’s perfect plan for any individual or family.
I do believe that God pursues us with goodness in the middle of difficulty.
I do believe that even when life is difficult God is still good!
And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God