Summary: Thanksgiving message dealing with the goodness of God.
IS GOD GOOD?
An older gentleman was on the golf green about to putt. A foursome was behind him, waiting for him to finish the hole. About the time he was to ready to putt, on the road beside the golf course, a shiny black hearse pulled into view, followed by an entourage of some fifty cars. When the older gentleman saw the funeral processional, he immediately took off his hat, placed it over his heart, and stood at a respectful attention until all fifty cars had slowly passed by. Then, he put his hat on, tapped his ball into the hole, and walked on to the next tee. The members of the foursome were impressed. When they caught up with the older gentleman several holes later, one of the golfers said to the older man, "It has been a long time since we have witnessed such a display of respect and dignity." The older gentleman replied, "Well, it's the least I could do...On Monday, we would have been married fifty years!"
Now, very few, if any of us, face death or tragedy with such a cavalier, uncaring, or unaffected attitude. That is especially true when the death of a friend or a loved one is involved or when a tragedy strikes really close to home. We usually have no problems dealing with the faraway problems, it's the ones that are personal that cause us to struggle and to question.
In one of the shows on the now canceled Home Improvement show, the show turned to the subject of religion, always a dangerous subject for a TV sitcom. Randy, the middle son, was serving as a volunteer in a local nursing home. He was assigned to visit an elderly woman who lived in the nursing home. As Randy visited with her, he became quite concerned about her health and impending death. Randy struggled to understand the relationship between his faith and her death. He struggled with his own death and with his own relationship in God. The show ended, as you might expect, with no easy answers or even good answers about the end of life or how we should relate to God in those difficult times.
You know, I have found in my years as a pastor that most of us, in times of tragedy and disappointment and death, begin to think about God. We may go for years without thinking much about God or struggling with understanding God or struggling with what the Bible teaches about God; however, in the difficult and trying times of life, we often struggle to understand how a good God could allow suffering or death or pain. We struggle as we try to balance our pain with what we have been taught in church: that God is a really good God. To be perfectly honest, the scales don't always seem to balance out in life like they seem to do in church, do they?
In church, we sing about God's goodness as we sing the little chorus: "God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He's so good to me." As parents, we teach our children to pray about God's goodness as we teach them to say their first blessing at a meal: "God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food." As we study the Bible, we read in the Bible about His goodness. Psalm 100:5 says: "For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."
Now, I realize that if I were to ask you this morning "Is God good?' almost all of us would say "Yes, God is good." I realize that is a fairly safe question for a preacher to ask to a Sunday morning crowd. However, if I were to stop by your home on Tuesday night, after God had told you "no" to something that was very important to you, would you still say that God is good? Think about it for a minute. If I were to stop by the funeral home on Thursday afternoon, after you had experienced a death in your family, would you still think that God is any less good when He lets a loved one die than when He lets a loved one live? Is God any less good if a fatal disease strikes a friend, instead of healing the person you have prayed for so faithfully? Let me ask that another way. Is it possible to say that God is good even in the midst of tragedy and disappointment?
Now, I'll be perfectly honest with you this morning. I do not have all of the answers today. I have to tell you, I still struggle with these questions just as you do. But, I have learned, that if I am struggling with a problem, if I am struggling with a question about God or about His goodness, I have learned that I have a resource to turn to. When I struggle with God or when I struggle with my relationship to Him, I have the Bible, God's holy Word to use as my guide. So, when I struggle with the difficult questions of disaster or death or pain or suffering, I turn to the Word of God. As I look at God's Word, I find God's answers to my hard questions.