Feature

Good!

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Several years ago, my wife brought home Corrie ten Boom’s Clippings from My Notebook. I read from the rear jacket a quotation that I find powerful, “Often I have heard people say, ‘How good God is. We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic, and look at this lovely weather!’ Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But God was also good when He allowed my sister Betsie to starve to death before my eyes in the German concentration camp.”

I was reminded of what ten Boom had written when a gunman stormed a small Amish school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and shot ten young girls. One of the television networks interviewed a man who had grown up nearby. Patrick Miller told the interviewer how the Amish community was responding. “We know two things,” he said. “We know that God is good, and we know that God is in control.”

When such seemingly inexplicable violence occurs, even Christians sometimes stumble over the teaching that God is good. Yet the Bible repeatedly asserts that God is good. And it does so emphatically.

“But how can God be good?” Christians are often asked. “How could He have allowed the Holocaust and the Amish school shooting?”

While the context of the question changes, the question itself is at least as old as Job. With one baffling calamity after another, Job questioned the ways of God. When God reminded Job that it was He and not Job who caused the sun to rise (38:12), and He alone who made the rain to fall (38:34), Job repented. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,” he said (42:3). Job confessed that his knowledge was limited.

Like it or not, there are boundaries around human knowledge. Those boundaries extend from calamity to human evil. To us, it is a deep mystery how the worst sort of human evil can fit together with the “good” God of the Bible.

Perhaps there is something of a hint in one translation of Psalm 16:1. The translation of this verse provokes disagreement among scholars. The rendering in The Book of Common Prayer is, “You are my Lord, my good above all other.” One of the ways in which that is surely true is to say that the Lord’s good is above all other goods. That is, what He knows to be good is superior to what we think to be good.

If we receive the teachings of Scripture as divine truth and believe that
the God of the Bible is truly good—all the time—then we can know that
we are trusted into the hands of One who wills and seeks for us only what
He knows to be good—which far exceeds anything we could imagine.

“The LORD is good.” Always.

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