When going through trials, most Christians believe that God is in control. They have no problem believing that what is happening to them is the hand of God. They don’t view God as being weak and impotent, wanting to help them but unable. What they struggle with is believing that what God is doing in their lives is good.
For this reason, Scriptures make unmistakably clear for us that God is good. All throughout the Bible we are told both explicitly and implicitly that God is good. We find written in its pages a God Who loves generously, Who cares deeply, Who both mourns and rejoices, Who sings and weeps, Who gives and sacrifices. The very first sin (and for that matter every other sin) began with discontent, a belief that God is holding out, that there is something good that He doesn’t want us to have. You will never be understand what God is up to in your life if you don’t believe that God is totally and completely good.
The Bible sets this tone from the very beginning. In Genesis one and two we read that God created everything, and that everything He created was good. Sin comes in and mars what God has created, but the message from this passage couldn’t be clearer: God is responsible for everything that is right with this world and for none of what’s wrong with it.
Later in Genesis we meet Joseph. Joseph had a hard life. His brothers sold him into slavery. As a slave he worked hard until he made it to the top, then was thrown in jail after being unfairly accused of rape because he wouldn’t sleep with his boss’s wife. But Joseph didn’t get bitter. He didn’t hate his brothers and seek to get back to them. Why not? Because Joseph held on to a rock solid conviction that through all the misery of his life, God was still good. When his brothers feared for their lives and implored Joseph to forgive them for their wickedness, his response was “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:19-20)
In the book of Deuteronomy Moses tells Israel that they needed to keep and teach their children to keep God’s commands. Anticipating that their children will want to know why they should have to keep all these rules, Moses instructs fathers to give this answer, “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.” (Deuteronomy 6:24) That’s right, God gave Israel the book of Leviticus because He was good and cared about them. Later in Deuteronomy we find that the many trials Israel went through, from leading them through the dangerous wilderness to humbling them by making them depend on Him for food and water was “that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.” (Deuteronomy 8:16)
Many of the Psalms speak of God’s goodness. A lot could be learned about God’s goodness from these passages, but we will just focus on a few different lessons we can learn.
God’s goodness is universal – there are not some people God is good to and others He is not!
- Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
- Psalm 119:68 You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
- Psalm 34:8-10 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
- Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
- Psalm 85:12 Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
- Psalm 107:9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
- Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
- Psalm 106:21 Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
- Psalm 107:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
- Psalm 118:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
- Psalm 118:29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
- Psalm 69:16 Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.\
- Psalm 109:21 But you, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name's sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
- Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
- Psalm 16:2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
- Psalm 52:9 I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.
- Psalm 54:6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
- Psalm 103:1-5 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
- Psalm 135:3 Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
- Psalm 136:1 Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
- Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
- Psalm 73:1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
- Psalm 86:5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
In the New Testament, Christ reminds us that God is good. While encouraging his followers to pray, He motivates them with these words “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”(Matthew 7:7-11)
In one of the most famous passages of the Bible, Paul tells us in Romans 8 that all things work together for our good. Everything. This is a passage we will look into later with greater detail, but notice that Paul doesn’t just stop there. A few verses later, considering the totality of the wonderful gospel truth he has laid out in the first eight chapters, he comes to this conclusion, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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?” (Romans 8:31-32)
James 1:17 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” This wonderful verse teaches us two things. First, each and every good gift is from God. You can’t find a good thing on this planet that God isn’t responsible for. Satan can’t give good gifts, the world can’t give good gifts, only God gives good gifts! Second, God never changes, so God only gives good gifts!
Whether we’re in the Pentateuch, the historical books, poetic books, the prophets, gospels, or epistles, the Bible repeatedly reminds us that God is good. The Bible tells us God is good, shows us that God is good, and reasons with us that God must be good. Joseph, Moses, David, Nahum, Christ, Paul, James, and others remind us of this great truth. These passages have just been a sampling, but hopefully they’ve been enough to show the strong emphasis Scripture puts on this important aspect of theology – God is good!
Everything that happens in your life happens because God is good and does good. God demands that we abstain from sin because He is good and does good. God forgives those who confess their sin because God is good and does good. God sends trials are way, takes away things we love, leaves us without earthly hope, and sends us through the fire because God is good and does good.
Of course, even all of this is an inadequate picture of how insistent the Bible is on God’s goodness, because we’ve only includes the passages that actually use the word “good.” But the Bible’s portrayal of God as good goes way beyond just these passages. God’s goodness is a bit of a catch all category. God is merciful because He is good, so all the passages that talk about God’s mercy could be included under the section on God’s goodness. The same is true for God’s grace, love, peace, hope, faithfulness, compassion, patience, and so on. You can’t read your Bible for any serious length of time without stumbling on a passage lauding God as good.
If you’re ever going to trust God, you must have this solid conviction: God is good! When life seems rotten, God is good! When you don’t know what’s going on or why, God is good! When you’ve run out of answers and you have nowhere left to look but up, remember that behind all the pain, confusion, and heartache is a God Who is more infinitely good than you or I could ever imagine!