Goodness in the Blessings
The goodness ofÂ God is so often seen all around us if we will slow down and just look, listen, and quietlyÂ observe.Â Â This week the opportunity to paint with a good friend out at a local farm came about where theÂ landscape continued to remind me of howÂ wonderful the goodness of God is.
The sun was rising well by the time we set up our easels and was a good contrast to the cool air and breeze. As we looked across the hills of the plateau we were on and gazed down at the brilliant coloredÂ leaves in golden hues of yellows, touches of bright oranges,Â and reds the colors blended and danced like jewels on spindles of darkness against the sky.Â The air had a freshness to it and the sounds of the braying cows in the distant brought about an instant peace as we painted silently attempting to capture all the beauty that we saw but also in a way that tried to bringÂ elements of the emotions and sounds we felt and heard into the painting. The goodness of God surrounded us as we painted and meditated on the sights and sounds that enveloped us.
I love toÂ spend time outside observing God’s goodness whether hiking, kayaking, painting or shooting photography.Â The goodness of GodÂ is truly around us in all that we see if we will just look. I used to tell my photography students to do more than just see as they needed toÂ look to find and feel the story that can be told through imagery. We so often pass by ordinary things paying little attention to them but if we will slow down and really look we can find the goodness of God in the beauty all around us. Life is like that too as often we miss the goodness of God because we do not look for the whole picture or we get so caught up in the things that are not so full of goodness that we quickly forget or find ourselves wanting to explain away the goodness of God with coincidence. This suggests a story that I read;
Two men decided to go on a trip together. They brought a donkey to carry their things, a torch to brighten the road at night, and allowed a chicken to come along by sitting on the donkey’s headÂ to keep the donkey company becauseÂ it was aÂ friend of theÂ four-legged animal.
One of the two men was very religious while the other one was an unbeliever. Along the way they beganÂ conversing about the goodness of God.
“God is so full of goodness,” said the first man.
“Well we will see if you still feel the same during the trip, said the second.
As the day turned to evening and nightfall was upon them they reached a small village and began looking for a place to sleep. They looked all over the village however no one would allow them to take refuge from the darkness with them. So they had to continue on their journey out of the village and decided to stay the night just outside of the village proper.
“I thought you said that God is full of goodness”, said the second man with scorn in his voice.
“God has decided that this is the best place for us to sleep,” explained the first one.
The two men put their tent under a big tree beside the road to the village and tied the donkey about 10 feet from their tent. As theyÂ lit their torch they heard a large growl and before they could turn around a lion attacked their donkey, dragged it off, and ate it. They quickly climbed the tree to survive.
“You still think that God is full of goodness?” asked the second man angrily.
“If the lion had not killed the donkey we would have been eaten, God is full of goodness,” said the first.
A moment later they heard the anxious sound of the chicken. From the tree, they could see that a big cat had attacked the chicken and dragged it off.
Before the second man could say anything the first man said, “The sound of the chicken saved us once again. God is full of goodness.”
A few minutes later a big wind blew out their torch which was the only thing keeping them warm. Once again the second man mocked his friend.
“Apparently, God’s kindness has been working on us all night,” he said.
The first man said nothing.
The next morning, the two men went back to the village for food. As they arrived they learned that robbers had attacked the village and robbed everyone.
The first man said, “Now it’s clear. God is really full of goodness. If we had spent the night here, we would have been robbed along with all the other people. If the wind had not blown out our torch, the robbers would have seen us as they passed on the road and robbed us too. It is clear that God is indeed full of goodness.”
It is so easy for most believers to see God’s goodness when the blessings abound and like the story we can identify with the two men and we can clearly see the goodness of God.Â Is the two men’s survival part of the goodness of God or as cynics would consider, just a coincidence?Â What about the people of the village, the donkey, or the chicken, is God’s goodness seen from their perspective too? It is easy to give thanks to God for His goodness when things are going our way and life is full of blessings but what about when life is full of lessons? Can we find the goodness of God then and can we continue to give thanks?
As we look to this week’s giving thanks focus verse we must remember that God is full of goodness and it is through His faithful love that we can keep moving forward whether the goodness is seen in the blessings or the lessons.
Give thanks to the Lord because He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalms 107:1 (NLT)
Goodness in the Lessons
This week I have been able to give pause and really think about the goodness of God. In addition to the goodness of God that I experienced on the farm I also received a great blessing this week on an issue thatÂ I have struggled with for some time. It appears that things are going to move in a more positive direction and forÂ me that was a great blessing and fully showed the goodness of God. But these types of blessings are far and few between forÂ me personally,Â at least for the lastÂ several years, and as easy as it is to praise God for the goodness of blessings it isn’t always as easy to contrast the goodness in the blessings with the hardness sometimesÂ seen in the lessons. The lessons of lifeÂ that weÂ hold in abundance from God can only be viewed from a different perspectiveÂ to realize that even under the weight of the mess there lays the goodness of God too.
Believers can so easily identify God’s goodnessÂ with His other qualities. His very goodness gives itself without any strings attached and we label it as love. The qualities of graceÂ are there as He forgives usÂ of our sins knowing we do not deserve it. When we are miserable He will give us the peace of mercy for asking. He blesses us with truth, forgiveness, and much more. All of these characteristics are clearly depicting the marks of goodness.
We, as believers, can see these blessings and understand God’s goodness and accept them with gratitude. We have God’s Word which is full of scripture that tell us He is full of goodness. (Psalm 106:1, Psalm 100:4-5, 1 Chronicles 16:34, and 1 Timothy 4:4 to name just a few) But what about the unbeliever, can they see the goodness of God? What about ourselves when the burdens of life overwhelm us? What about when we feel like our life has turned into Job’s?
As believers we should be able to remember scriptures such as Romans 8:28 that tell us that if we trust in God the goodness of GodÂ is seenÂ becauseÂ He causes all things to work together for the goodness of all. We have to rely fully on our faith for the little and the big crises that we may faceÂ to know thatÂ God’s goodness is endlessly reaching out to us, His children. Not everyone agrees on the goodness of God however sometimes even believers faith can be shaken.
People have been challenging the goodness of God since the Garden of Eden. How can God allow evil to exist among us in the world? How can He permitÂ destruction, disease, poverty, hunger, violence, greed, and other catastrophes? Sometimes we may find ourselves questioning the goodness of God.
This is where we must have the faith in the lessons. The goodness is found in the lessons and when viewed from the right perspective blessings can be seen. We may not understandÂ the lessons of life, the messes, andÂ we should not expect to. God clearly tells us that His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are different and higher than ours. (Isaiah 55: 8 – 9) God created everything but He did not create sin. We did that on our own. (James 1:13, 1 John 1:5)Â God did however give us the ability to choose good over evil. The first people God created made the choice of sin on their own free will and their sin has affected all of God’s creation. We live in a worldÂ affected by sin and we are all responsible and prone to sin no matter how great or small in our own justifiable eyes. Our sins areÂ to God, all the same. In addition to our own sinsÂ and sufferings we can also get caught in or by the sinful choices of others. The only way to remove the sufferings is to take away our freedom of choice and our nature will not allow that.
One of the biggest problems we have in accepting God’s goodness is that we do not always know or understand what is good for us. We think that if everything is going the way we wish and we can do anything we please that happiness, comfort, health, and success will come. But God knows that this is not true and He knows that the types of choices that we often make with our human wisdom will not always truly make us happy. God wants us to be more like His son. He sent His son as a model for our own behavior and if we will attempt to live to that model it is there we will find happiness no matter how extreme our problems are. (Romans 8:29) If you are a parent or leader of any kind it is easy to understand how when the ‘big picture” is not understood or seen,Â griping abounds.Â We do not see the “big picture” thatÂ God sees but we do have the faith that says,Â God does know all and He knows what is best for us.
It is in this reflection that we can usually see that thereÂ are blessings in the often difficult lessons of life. The goodness of God is seen from this belief and praise along with giving thanks for the goodness of God becomes the way to live our life. It is how we see and trustÂ the “big picture” of God that we can see the goodness of God in both the blessings and the lessons. We should remember that it is the “big picture” that should remain our ultimate focus.
There was aÂ man who attended church and who had loved God dearly all of his life. This man, named Bill, walked around saying God is full of goodness, God is good. He said it all the time, wherever he was.
When Bill got married he said, “God is full of goodness, God is good.”
When Bill lost his job he said, “God is full of goodness, God is good.”
When his father died, his wallet was lost, he said, “God is full of goodness, God is good.” No matter what Bill did or what happened to him, he would say, “God is full of goodness, God is good.”
It wasn’t very long ago that a diagnosis of cancer came upon Bill. The disease spread rapidly and the doctors informed himÂ that he would only have a few weeks to live. But even then on his death-bed in the hospital people still heard him say, “God is full of goodness, God is good.”
His pastor, who was also his friend, visited him every day in the hospital. And every time just before the pastor left Bill would say, “God is full of goodness, God is good.” One day, his pastor, after watching for weeks, his friend become worse could stand it no more.
“Bill,” he said, “You are my friend and I love you. I love the Lord too as much as you do. I have listened to you say, ‘God is full of goodness, God is good’ most of your life. Through the good times I can understand why you say He is full of goodness. Maybe even through the hard times, to help you cope and understand. But now here you lie on your death-bed, how can you continue to say the God is full of goodness? How can you say every day that ‘God is full of goodness, God is good’ knowing that he is letting you die?’
Bill looked at his friend and smiled, “My dear friend don’t you see all of those times I was saying that God is full of goodness, God is good, it was my way of praising him in the small way that I could. And look what my reward is for remaining faithful, I am dying. You say God is letting me die as if that is a bad thing. Have you forgotten that this is our goal? It is our goal to live our life for Him and join him one day in heaven. You see, God is full of goodness, God is indeed good! He has finally called me home and it will not be long before I can join Him. I cannot imagine anything greater than that.”
Bill died that night in his sleep. When his friend stood up and spoke at this funeral he said only two things, I will miss my friend but I know I will see him again and “God is full of goodness, God is good.”
Blessing and lessons; they all show God’s goodness if we step back and do more than see. We must look, listen, and feel His presenceÂ praising, proclaiming, and giving thanksÂ for the gifts as well as the messes. It is ourÂ expected response. (Acts 1:8, 2 Corinthians 5:18 – 20,Â Psalm 105:1)
So as we continue to march towards the celebrated holiday of Thanksgiving let us all take time to give thanks for we know that whether through blessings or lessons our greatest reward will be Heaven, for God is truly full of goodness, God is good!
Love in Christ,
Take the time alone or with someone close to you and think about the good things that God has done for you through the years whether blessings or lessons and then give thanks for all you are given and that you have learned. If you are currently facing messes try to think of what lessons you may learn for God is full ofÂ goodnessÂ because He is good.
What are Your Thoughts? Join Us in Discussion:
Do you see the goodness of God through both the blessings and lessons you have received? Do you promote thanksgiving of blessings and lessons when you talk to others about God? Can you share ways that have helped you get through the most difficult lessons of life? Join us on the topic of the goodness of God through blessings and lessons or other related topics.