As I write this we are preparing for Easter weekend! What a wonderful time to reflect on all that God has done for us in and through His Son Jesus! We see His goodness on display at the cross and the empty tomb. In fact, He is good all the time.
Christians often say to each other “God is good.” This is true about the character of God. Psalm 100:5 says “The Lord is good, His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” This is powerful. This tells us that God doesn’t just do good things. He IS good. When we say, “God is good”, we are making a true statement. I worry that when and how we say this statement might actually confuse us about God’s character. Let me explain.
When some good fortune comes to a fellow believer, they get a promotion at work, a good report from the doctor, unexpected cash, etc., we might say “God is good!” Scroll through your Facebook news feed and read the comments when someone posts some really great news. You’ll see this phrase from people. Since God is good all the time (remember He IS good, He doesn’t just DO good), do we ever use this phrase when bad news happens? When someone says or posts online, “I have cancer”, “I got laid off”,” my spouse passed away”, etc., no one replies with “God is good.” We could. God is good all the time.
The danger in saying “God is good” when good things happen and not saying it when bad things happen is that we begin to think that God is bad when bad things happen. What we’re really saying is that His character depends on what’s happening to me at any given moment. That’s dangerous. That means that we, those He has created, get to define His character based on how good or bad our life is going. If we’re not careful we can send the message to people that God exists to give us good things and make life more pleasant for His followers. We seem to say that when bad things happen, God is somehow not in control. This is not the God we see in the Scriptures. He is far less concerned with our comfort than we are. He showed His glory and character more often through “bad” circumstances.
Should we ever say, “God is good”? That depends. Have the right perspective. God can take any situation (good or bad) and use it to glorify Himself, use it to draw people closer to Him, or any number of things. It is my experience that more often He uses the bad things in our lives to do this. In hindsight we can see His goodness. Be careful the message you send when you say, “God is good” when good things happen. You may be communicating that He is not good when bad things happen. Events in our lives may not look good by themselves. God can display His goodness even in those times. After all, we refer to the day His Son died as “Good Friday.”