As we have been watching the news in the last (how many?) months, we have been bombarded with bad news: hurricanes, flooding, fires, murders–the list goes on. And it is so easy to ask ourselves, “Where is God in all of this? And why doesn’t He do something to stop it?”
If we don’t allow God’s word to be the foundation of our thoughts and ponderings, our faith can truly begin to flounder, shaking the very depths of our souls.
The long answer to these questions has been explained by those much wiser than I, and it will have to be for another time in this space. But right now let’s address a related question: “Is God really good if He allows all these bad things to happen?”
I remember the first time I considered this question. I was going through the greatest crisis of my life. I was definitely not thinking that God was good at the time.
But the pastor was asking the congregation to repeat after him, “The Lord is good!”
I struggled inside, but then I knew from deep within me that if God said it, then it must be true. So I believed His word by faith and was able to say sincerely with the pastor, “The Lord is good!” And, I was at peace with that realization.
But what if we have trouble coming up with that faith?
Is there anything we can do to get over this inner faith crisis?
I’d like to suggest that we, especially in our western culture, need a in our thinking.
We tend to equate God’s goodness with His gifts, especially material gifts.
But we can also have this attitude about other gifts we desire:
- a faithful spouse
- good health
- healthy children
- good eyesight….
In fact, if we’re honest with ourselves, we feel He owes us these things, especially if we are really trying to be good. And, we may even feel we have the right to demand them of Him and be angry with Him if He withholds them or allows them to be taken away from us.
But God IS truly good, and He knows what will truly fulfill our deepest longings.
We just don’t understand, ourselves, what our deepest longings are.
Jeremiah was in a place like that when he wrote the book of Lamentations.
His country had been invaded, and most of his people had either been killed or taken off into exile. The city had been destroyed by fire.
He grieved and lamented, but through it all he found what that deep longing inside him required in order to be completely satisfied.
“The LORD is my PORTION,” he said. (Lam. 3:24 emphasis mine)
Another less known Bible character who wrote of this was Asaph. He was upset that the wicked prospered, while he suffered daily trials.
He described himself as becoming embittered over it all until the Lord revealed to him that the wicked certainly would be suddenly judged. They would not get by with it.
The Lord revealed to Asaph the same thing that He revealed to Jeremiah.
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my PORTION forever.” (Psalm 73:25,26 emphasis mine)
In verse 28 he states, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.”
So, both of these men discovered that God’s goodness was not so much in the kind of gifts that they could see and touch, but in His very near Presence with them,
- His strong, protecting Presence.
- His encompassing, loving Presence.
- His compassionate, joyful Presence.
- His peaceful, good Presence.
- His gracious, merciful, gentle, faithful Presence that wrapped itself around them like a warm fuzzy blanket to warm their hearts and keep away the cold of the hard things in life that surrounded them.
The word PORTION in the above verses, according to Strong’s Concordance, comes from a Hebrew word pronounced Khay’-lek meaning smoothness or an allotment. (In those days, smooth stones were used to cast lots instead of rolling dice or drawing straws.)
Jeremiah found comfort and hope in the fact that, even though everything as he had known it had been stripped away, God was His Portion or allotment.
GOD allotted HIMSELF to Jeremiah!
He gave Himself to Jeremiah as his ALLOTMENT, and in doing so, HE GAVE JEREMIAH THE GREATEST GIFT IMAGINABLE!
The gift of HIMSELF.
He did the SAME WITH ASAPH.
And He does the SAME WITH ME.
And if you have come to Him for forgiveness through faith in Jesus, who died, was buried, and resurrected to save you, then He is your Portion as well.
I guess the questions we need to ask ourselves are,
- “Are we glad that He is our Portion?
- Or do we prefer the gifts over the Giver?
- Where does our heart lie?
- Are we actually worshipping the gifts instead of the Giver?
- If so, are we willing to move in a new direction, that being TOWARD the Giver?
God is good. He never changes.
Our perception of Him as not being good is based on lies we have believed and acted on.
May we believe His truth today and draw near to Him who loves us more than anyone else will ever be able.
Maybe you would be willing to pray the following with me:
Lord God, Jehovah,
You are my Portion! I thank You for that. Please forgive me for the times I have knowingly or unknowingly worshiped Your gifts instead of worshiping You, the Giver. You alone are worthy of being worshiped and adored. I believe that.
Please help me to move closer to You and to embrace You as the loving, good Sovereign that You are. Help me to rejoice and find hope even in times of great distress, in the fact that You not only gave Yourself for us, but also that You give Yourself to us.
I praise You, Jesus! What an awesome God You are!