May We Be Overwhelmed by the Goodness of God

A dear friend sent me this video. If you don’t have time to read the article below, just listen to the wonderful song on YouTube, which this little boy makes come alive.

What a powerful reminder that God is the Greatest Good and the source of all lesser goods: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17). Wayne Grudem says in Systematic Theology, “The goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and that all that God is and does is worthy of approval.”

Scripture contains many direct affirmations of God’s goodness, such as:

Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. (Psalm 25:8)

You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees. (Psalm 119:68)

Give thanks to the LORD Almighty,
for the LORD is good;
his love endures forever. (Jeremiah 33:11)

The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him. (Nahum 1:7)

God extends His goodness to His people.

God’s goodness entails a number of His other attributes. Grudem also says in Systematic Theology, “God’s mercy is his goodness toward those in distress, his grace is his goodness toward those who deserve only punishment, and his patience is his goodness toward those who continue to sin over a period of time.”

God’s goodness is linked to His love: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6). His goodness also connects with His holiness: “We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple” (Psalm 65:4). “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you” (Psalm 31:19). God has stored up His goodness for those who fear Him. That means in the future He plans to bestow upon us a storehouse full of goodness.

God manifests His goodness to all people.

God does not restrict His goodness to believers only. He is good to all His creatures: “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:9); “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17; see also Matthew 5:45).

God grants His goodness to humanity at large, manifested in both nature and culture, in such good things as animals, forests, rivers, music, art, and sports.

To say that God is good is not to say God will always appear to be good, or that when He is good we will always like Him for it.

Consider the anguished cry of Jeremiah: “He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship” (Lamentations 3:2–5).

This outcry doesn’t appear to affirm God’s goodness, does it? Jeremiah sounds like Epicurus or David Hume. It seems remarkable that God would include in His inspired Word such human displays of confusion and frustration.

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Susan asks Mr. Beaver if Aslan the Lion is safe. “Who said anything about safe?” Mr. Beaver answers. “’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

This is sound theology—God can be good without being safe; He can be loving without bowing to our every wish or desire.

All arguments to the contrary, God is utterly good and worthy to receive our worship.

In Deserted by God, Sinclair Ferguson tells the story of English missionary Allen Gardiner. In January 1852, a search party found Gardiner’s lifeless body. He and his companions had shipwrecked on Tierra del Fuego. Their provisions had run out. They starved to death.

Gardiner, at one point, felt desperate for water; his pangs of thirst, he wrote, were “almost intolerable.” Far from home and loved ones, he died alone, isolated, weakened, and physically broken.

Isn’t this one of those stories told to raise the problem of evil and suffering? Indeed, if the story ended like this, we would find it tragic beyond description.

Despite the wretched conditions of his death, Gardiner wrote out Scripture passages, including Psalm 34:10: “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (KJV). Near death, his handwriting feeble, Gardiner managed to write one final entry into his journal: “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.”

This article was adapted from Randy’s book If God Is GoodAlso see the devotional 90 Days of God’s Goodness, book The Goodness of Godand booklet If God Is Good, Why Do We Hurt?which deals with the question and shares the gospel so that both unbelievers and believers can benefit.

Photo by Jamie Pilgrim on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries