It was the moment I plopped myself into the armchair, surrounded by about ten friends and a couple spouses, that I realized the magnitude of what I was about to do. The last to go, I had taken for granted their honesty in sharing with the group where they were in life and for what they needed prayer. Now, it was my turn and I was about to lose it. What do I talk about? How much is too much? How much grief can I share before I become the self-pitying sob story? I know, I’m getting to the point. As I sit here reflecting on those moments, what I did share and the rest of the weekend, I understand something very important just a little bit better. That is that God is good and He is in control. No, that control hasn’t led me at all where I wanted, planned, and schemed, but it has led me to a place right now that is best for me and I will only continue to see that more as the days pass. But what is good?
Good in the land of happiness
Unfortunately, good doesn’t translate well in the land of pleasure seekers. Good, I find myself often using as a synonym for happy, but this is far from the truth. Happiness says, “If you’re not having fun, then you’re doing it wrong,” while good says, “Pain may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Good is not the absence of pain, but says that pain will always come with lavish reward. Good is allowing us to struggle because it is for our best. Yes, good is just that, it is our best. However, best is defined from the Omniscient standpoint, not our clouded vision in the moment.
Good for you
For those who love God, all things happen for good (Romans 8:28). Notice it doesn’t say for their or our good, but for good. Why am I pointing out such a trivial matter? Because the lack of a possessive adjective means a world of difference. It means that good is good and that good is defined by a Sovereign. It means that God is good; good is defined by the One whom it describes. Therefore, our good is ultimately the good of God. Going one step further, it means that our best is subject to what God before time defined as good. And that good is what is being carried out this very moment.
A life of good
Look at the life of Paul. I think any Christian or person familiar with the New Testament can agree that man did some good in the world. I think we can also agree that he reaped a lot of crap in return, being arrested a few times and languishing in prison a significant portion of his Christ-following days. Yet, this is good. No, spending all your days in prison isn’t itself good, but the joy and certainty those days wrought most certainly are, even today. The challenge for us is how do we reconcile this man’s life with the world and lives of people living in it nearly two millennia later?
As I’m learning, we can only accept good if we accept that God is for us, but He is not simply for our happiness. The truth we need to cling onto is that God is working all things for our best. Our best isn’t our happiest, but our most joyful. God is working all things so that we would understand His love, reacting with an overwhelming impulse to share that love abundantly with the world around us. It is something beyond our comprehension, because we are trying to understand something straight from the mind of the Omniscient. But He loves us fiercely and doesn’t want to cause pain or upheaval in our lives, but neither did our parents when disciplining us. All the sadness, loss, disappointment pains Him greatly, but He allows it out of love, out of trying to provide us His best, the best.