In these difficult times, we wanted to share an article that we thought would be particularly encouraging (and challenging). This is Day 1 from our devotional Gospel Meditations for the Hurting by Chris Anderson and Joe Tyrpak. We pray that it will minister God’s grace to you today!
Read Psalm 100.
“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 100:5)
In 1998 my sister-in-law gave birth to Johnny—a sweet boy with Down Syndrome. Johnny’s parents weren’t expecting that their day of much-anticipated joy would also bring sorrow. They’ve been model parents, and he’s a bright-eyed, capable Christian teenager. But those first days were difficult. Johnny had to have open heart surgery within a few months of his birth. Jeff Burr, his dad and one of my dear friends, would send out email updates, sharing the ups and downs that are inevitable at such times. At one point, Jeff started a note with these words: “God was good today. Johnny’s condition improved.” We understood what Jeff meant. But Jeff shared with me that one of his iron-sharpening friends corrected and challenged him with this gentle reply: “God was good yesterday, too. It just didn’t feel like it.”
I’ll never forget the wisdom of those words. God’s goodness doesn’t wax and wane. He’s unchanging. He will never love us more, or less, than He does right now. He’s constant. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.
We evaluate God’s character based on our circumstances, when we should evaluate our circumstances based on God’s unchanging character
One of the great temptations we face in our seasons of discouragement is to doubt God’s goodness. “If He loved me,” we reason, “I would find a job. Or be healed. Or have a happy marriage. Or be more attractive. Or have better friends.” We evaluate God’s character based on our circumstances, when the exact opposite is in order: We should evaluate our circumstances based on God’s character. As Babbie Mason sings, “God is too wise to be mistaken” and “too good to be unkind” (“Trust His Heart”).
We can be certain of God’s goodness based on repeated statements of Scripture (such as Psalm 25:8; 34:8; 84:11; 86:5). Contrary to the idols of Gentile nations (which were cruel, sensual, and debauched), God is good. The Bible says so. Creation declares it, even in its fallen state. History demonstrates it, despite man’s cruelty. But nothing shows God’s love and goodness more convincingly than the cross. That’s the point of Romans 8:32, which is a response to the sorrows of life (“sufferings” in v. 18; “bondage” in v. 21; “groaning” with “pain” in vv. 22–23; “weakness” in v. 26; “tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword” in vv. 35–36). When life hurts, or even ends, we must tether ourselves to the perspective of Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Nothing shows God’s love and goodness more convincingly than the cross
That’s a powerful, gospel-centered salve for the hurting. While we may not understand our current struggles, we can understand this: God loves us so much He sacrificed His Son to save us when we were His enemies. How unjust we are to question such infinite love! How foolish we are to doubt God’s love when we lose a job (or lose our keys) or to affirm God’s love only when we get good news. Such thinking is mystical—and miserable. God’s love is constant. The cross of Jesus Christ should put to rest any doubts about the goodness of God. You may not understand what God is doing in your life. But you know this with unshakeable certainty: God always loves you. God is only good.
I recently had the privilege of writing a hymn text for a tune written by Jonathan Hamilton, the son of Ron and Shelly Hamilton. The tune was discovered after his heartbreaking death. I took the opportunity to revel in God’s constancy and goodness—truths of which Jonathan is now certain:
Looking back, I can see Your fingerprints
upon my life, always seeking my best.
There were times when Your way would make no sense,
but as You said, You have never left.
You are always good, You are only good;
You are always good to me.
Though my eyes can’t see, help my heart believe
You are always, only good.
(This became the song “You Are Always Good,” which is available here as a free download.)
You may not understand what God is doing in your life. But you know this with unshakeable certainty: God always loves you. God is only good.
Let the gospel assure you that God is always good—even when it doesn’t feel like it. —CHRIS