Summary: Is God so good? Is God so good to me - to you - all the time?
“Between the Lines: Is God So Good?”
Okay. Sing with me: “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” So simple to sing – yet so often difficult to believe. Can the father in the drama truthfully sing it?
Now let’s do a responsive chant. I’ll say “God is good” and you answer “All the time.” Ready? “God is good – all the time!” Sounds so true – yet so often not in sync with our experience. What about the parents of a teenager who just broke his neck and is now a quadriplegic – can they chant this?
Is God so good? Is God so good to me – to you? All the time?
Paul presents a very PUZZLING TRUTH. The truth is stated in verse 28: “In all things God works…” A root conviction of the Biblical faith is the TRUTH that GOD WORKS. It sets Yahweh God above all other gods because it states that God still works actively in the world he created. Our God is a God who acts.
This is one of the main thrusts of God’s dialogue with Moses at the burning bush. God kept telling Moses that He had arranged everything that had happened and would arrange everything that is about to happen. Far from abandoning Israel, God had been preparing them for the future; He had been at work. God works.
As a result Israel had always believed that there were no chance happenings, no random events. If things went well or they won a battle, they knew they had God’s favor. If things did not go well or they lost a battle, they knew they did not have God’s favor. God works.
Remember Job’s story? Satan had to ask permission to afflict Job; God was active in Job’s life and world. Since Job believed this his question was not “Where’s God?” but rather “How is God involved in all this? What is God doing in all this?” God works.
And then there’s the prophet Isaiah through whom God spoke (45:5-7 GNB): “I am the Lord; there is no other god. I will give you the strength you need, although you do not know me. I do this so that everyone from one end of the world to the other may know that I am the Lord and that there is no other god. I create both light and darkness; I bring both blessing and disaster. I, the Lord, do all these things.” God works.
Jesus reiterated the message. He told people He had come from God the Father and that if they could not accept what He said they should look at what He did. He claimed God was at work through Him. He told Peter that Satan demanded to sift the disciples like wheat, but that Jesus praying for them. And after Pentecost the apostles kept preaching that God was at work through all of Jesus’ life, suffering, and death and that it was God who raised Jesus from the dead. God works.
What is it we claim in our Heidelberg Catechism? God “…watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him…he still upholds, as it were by his own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.” God works.
Listen again to Paul: “In all things God works…” This TRUTH IS PUZZLING: GOD WORKS IN ALL THINGS. An airplane crashes. One man shares that he was supposed to be on the plane but was delayed – he’s convinced that God saved him and it’s a miracle. Meanwhile the husband of a woman who was killed wonders, “How could God let this happen?” Are both right? If one woman claims God was with her in that she left a building just before it collapsed does it mean that He wasn’t with the others and willed all those in the building to die? A high school boy makes a game winning shot and shortly thereafter falls dead. Does God work in all things? If so, is God so good? All the time? Does God cause all things to happen? If so, how can we say He’s good? Or does God allow all things to happen? If so, does that mean He’s neutral and whatever will be, will be? Most of us, if we’re honest, will admit that we are puzzled; our lives and experiences lead us to wonder just how it is that God works in all things.