What If? (part 2 of 2)

Lake Conroe by Gillham

Lake Conroe by Gillham

Evaluating God’s goodness based upon circumstance is foolhardy. We live in a fallen world.

Granted, the goodness of God keeps the Earth spinning within the confines of space. By any measure, He should have let us drift outside our orbit and experience the destruction of a planet out of kilter. His goodness makes a way even while everything tends to greater disorder.

That the world is cursed and fallen, the consequence of our own choosing, explains the host of ills with which we suffer. God did not smite us with cancer, starvation, war, disease, and pestilence. The choice was ours to make: life or death. Our forefather chose death and bequeathed to us death and dying. In His goodness, God honored the choice made in the Garden by Adam and in His goodness supplies mercy—an irrational goodness—to live while in the midst of degradation. The alternative is that He leave us alone—and that is the definition of hell.

If God is not good, then we are without hope. Said backward, the presence of hope at any degree is testimony to the fact that the goodness of God exists.

His goodness does not exempt us from life’s orneriness. To do so would run slipshod over our freedom of choice as human beings. But his goodness does supply grace while in the midst of life’s trivialities and tragedies, grand moments and grievous losses.

I only find one verse of Scripture with the phrase, “God is good,” and it is in Psalms with the author trying to convince himself that this is the case for Israel. Hardly a declaration, even though it is written as such.

Thus, goodness is not declared. Goodness is determined.

This is what makes God’s goodness susceptible to Satan’s accusations to the contrary. If this life is all there is, and goodness is determined based upon circumstance, then Satan’s declarations against the goodness of God based upon starving children, cancer in your gut, wars around the globe, and whatever else is wrong with this fouled up planet stands to reason as true. If this is an accurate assessment, then God is fooling Himself and us along with Him. In this case, the one doing us the favor is Satan as He is like Dorothy’s dog, Toto, pulling back the wizard’s curtain to reveal truth.

But circumstance is a fickle reflection of truth, unreliable to provide an accurate picture from which to answer our pressing questions. No. To assess goodness, we must look at the bigger picture, take the long view of history, and consider what is of eternal note. Circumstance is a cut flower wilting under the heat of eternity.

This planet, and our brief tenure here, offers clues regarding the goodness of God, but in its fallen condition, it also renders plenty of vulnerability for us to be deceived about the goodness of God. If God is not good, then none of us would be here. The fact that we still are bears witness to the sustaining, personal goodness of God without respect to circumstance.

Our lives are a breath. This world is passing away. Our physical beings were made from dust and to dust they shall return. We are only visiting this planet. Our homes and our souls and our spirits are eternal.

In His goodness, the eternal God reaches to us with eternity while we are in the midst of a temporal labor. Just as it was in the Garden of Eden, the choice is ours to make between life and death, eternity and circumstance, His goodness or our own.