Is God Good?
by Margaret Nyman
We’ve all heard the line, “God is good, all the time.” It’s the name of a popular song recorded by Don Moen in 1995, a lively toe-tapping tune with a serious message. If we believe what the Bible says, we have to agree that God is, indeed, good. But really? All the time?
What about that bothersome question, If God is so good, why does He let bad things happen to us? It’s a legitimate problem in view of all the disease, fighting, and dying in our world.
Recently my husband Nate and I moved from the home where we’d raised our seven children to a cottage in a small town 110 miles away. We were excited about our downsized life, but before we unpacked the last box, we learned Nate had cancer. It was stage four pancreatic cancer, a wicked disease that let him live only 42 more days.
On one of those days I asked Nate if he ever wondered why he got cancer. Though his answer came with difficulty, it was theologically sound: “Why not?”
None of us is exempt from the myriad troubles of this world, and no one gets a pass on death. But there’s something else going on when God lets us contract diseases, have accidents, or come up against any other negative obstacle.
Scripture says God loves us, and because of that, He designs opportunities for us to exercise our faith muscles. Deadly disease is one of those, a test to prove to ourselves (and Him) what we really believe. If we say we’re Christians who lean on the Lord for strength and sustenance, diagnosis of a terminal illness shouldn’t throw us. Yet it does. Could it be because we can’t feel God’s love at that moment?
As I was still reeling after Nate’s death, I couldn’t make sense of what had happened and asked God to order my thoughts. Immediately He let me know what to do: “Count your blessings.”
That advice seemed contrary to grieving logic, but I gathered my children, ages 19–36, and we began looking for good amid the bad, starting with the evening Nate died: (1) We’d all been together when it happened, a blessing. (2) Each had had a chance to say good-bye, another good thing. (3) He was able to stay at home, which had been our hope. (4) His pain hadn’t overwhelmed him, even at the end.
As our list lengthened, our sagging spirits lifted. Backing up through the 42 days of Nate’s cancer, we found enough blessings amid the misery to fill a book.
But that’s not all. God also reminded me through Scripture that bad times do good things within us. When we can’t handle life’s crises, we’re more apt to turn toward Him, which pleases Him and results in benefit to us. A self-sufficient person misses the joys of depending on a good God whose love is so trustworthy Scripture labels it “unfailing” in more than 40 places.
So how do we handle the tough stuff of life? We continue to believe God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do. We endure suffering with patience, and hope with confidence. And when He stuns us by coming through in astounding ways, we sing with joy, “God is good, all the time!”