“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” Psalm 107:1 NIV.
We live in a world desperately looking for good news. We are bombarded daily with bad news from CNN and Fox, weather and traffic reports, creditors and doctors, bosses and busybodies, foes and friends alike. In such an atmosphere it is often difficult to maintain a hopeful, thankful heart. As a result it is all too easy to fall prey to fear and worry about our life and our future; and often we succumb to a negative and complaining attitude.
What is the antidote to this deluge of bad news and the accompanying discouragement? Any web search will give you a plethora of remedies. There is every point of view imaginable including psychological, sociological, philosophical, medical and religious.
I do not want to be over simplistic here, but as a Christian, I believe the answer is rooted in having an accurate concept of the nature and character of God. What we believe about God and how He relates to us shapes our response both to Him and to the circumstances around us. God’s nature of course, in its totality, is incomprehensible. How does one fully understand or reconcile His judgments versus His mercies, His silence or delays versus His promises, His discipline versus His love?
Often we discover life giving glimpses of His character in looking continually to Him, like a lover of art gazing repeatedly upon the painting of a Renaissance master. The blends of light and shadow, color and composition, proportion and perspective all have a way of lending a quality of mystery to the way in which the parts make up the whole. And yet the beauty of the entire work (His entire being) is so compelling, we must sell all to have this “pearl” of great price that we might gaze upon Him our life long.
There is a singular quality of God’s nature that for me best sums up everything about Him. It is the fact that God is good! The goodness of God is like a frame, perfectly matched to showcase the glory of God. Imagine a magnificent frame, uniquely selected to be both a definitive statement and a representative extension of a masterful painting. Every time we look at the masterpiece we cannot help but see the frame which surrounds it. The frame draws us in and helps us focus at the wonders of the painting which it circumscribes.
Acknowledgements of the goodness of God frame the myriad character of God in a transformative way. It is not without purpose that the reference to God’s goodness is reiterated again and again throughout the scriptures. “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5 NIV) “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)
Such declarations of God’s goodness are so simple and yet so profound. Believing and embracing them will change our perspective of God, ourselves and everything and everyone around us. Being mindful of this all encompassing truth that God is good, will change the way we view His opinion of us, even in our failings. It will change the way we relate to God and the way we pray. It will change the way we view and face adversity. It will change the way we relate to others, especially those who hurt or oppose us.
Truly believing in God’s goodness provides the theological equivalent of a thermostat that gives us power to change the atmosphere whenever we are assaulted by an arctic blast of bad news. David, the great psalmist king, knew this and changed atmospheres of adversity through confessions of God’s goodness: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13 NIV
David was determined to see the goodness of the Lord in his life. That encourages us to look intently for the good that God is working in our lives. (Romans 8:28) When we look for good, it helps us overlook the bad. All that God is and does is good. When we look for good we look for God. When we look for good we look for His good work in our lives. This is especially true when we consider 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.” (James 1:17 ESV)
If we take James seriously, it means that wherever we see good in our lives, we are seeing God. Think about that. Where ever we see good, we see God. The corollary is also true. Where ever we see God, we see good. That should naturally lead to giving thanks to Him every time we see good. As our gratitude grows we are transformed!
Let me sum this up in a word of advice. This is something I have taken to heart myself. Where ever you see good, you see God, so give Him thanks! Where have you seen something good happen recently in your life or the life of people you love? Why not start with finding the goodness of God in the simple pleasures of life, like a good nights sleep, a sunny morning, a cup of coffee, green lights, convenient parking, a friendly greeting, a perfect fit, no line check-out etc.? If you try it, you’ll like it! “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8 NIV)
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