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Goodness of God

I find it hard sometimes to put into words the amazing strength and joy that comes from having a personal relationship with God. While God is available to us all, I think we all have our own unique story to tell about our faith depending on our circumstances and experiences.

It’s always easier to explain the goodness of God in the good times – we can point out blessings and be thankful. But what about when things don’t go according to our plan? When we miss out on something we dream of, something we want so badly but it’s not in Gods plan for now? It’s harder then, right? But not impossible.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can look back on my life and see things that were painful at the time… a job opportunity that I missed out on, a lost friendship or an argument with a loved one – and realise, only in hindsight that God had his hand upon it and it was what was right for me at that time.

We sang a new song in church this weekend and it really touched me. Last week I missed out on a promotion in work and while I was a little gutted I’ve been reminding myself that God’s hand was upon the situation. God has never failed me and I trust that someday I’ll understand the why. I don’t need to know the why now, I just need to remember how good God has been to me over the years and remember it’s all in his plan – his plan that promises…

“plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭GW‬‬

It goes back to what I’ve been trying to focus on since the New Year – we can choose to feel defeated or we can choose joy in every situation.

The opening verse of this song presents us with a challenge, that if we choose to accept, can really help us hold on to the hope for the future and trust in the goodness of God.

All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

So this Monday morning that’s my motivation … I’m in God’s hands – he’s got this! Whatever “this” may be – I will sing of the goodness of God.

Thoughts & Ponderings

Be thankful? You can’t be serious!

We all face trials in life – no one is exempt, it happens to us all. Do you ever think…

Why me?

Why doesn’t God do something?

Why is God letting this happen to us?

Why does God let thousands die in earthquakes, tsunamis etc?

Sometimes we ask why because we’re upset with God. Sometimes people query why certain things happen if there is a God. Often people question if God is really all powerful.

God creates us and therefore has authority over us whether we like it or not. He is the highest authority and he actively rules over his people and all of his creation.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God – those whom he has called according to his plan. Romans 8:28 GWT

Did you catch the two most important words in that verse? ALL THINGS – not some things or the odd thing but ALL things. Every situation you find yourself in whether its a blessing or your worst nightmare – God can turn it for good. God is not the author of sin but he does permit others to sin against us and he does it for his purposes. Look at Joseph, in Genesis 37 we read how his brothers sold him as a slave and his life took a path he would never have expected. BUT, praise the Lord for the BUT, God works it all for good in the end…

Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it. This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now. Genesis 50:20 GWT

It is important to see good in every situation and to take the evil we experience and use if for good.

God also uses trials to test us for a definitive purpose. Deaths, illness, assaults or broken relationships – it might sound strange but these tests can be for his glory. In John 15 Jesus explains to us that he is the true vine and God takes care of the vineyard…

He removes every one of my branches that doesn’t produce fruit. He also prunes every branch that doesn’t produce fruit to make it produce more fruit. John 15: 2 GWT

God may be putting us through trials to prune us so that we may bear more fruit for his glory. God is the husbandman who cuts dead branches off and prunes back live branches for the purposes of the branch bearing more fruit. If a plant or tree could feel pain, having a branch chopped off would be agonisingly painful. In time, the branch will again produce beautiful flowering buds soon to turn to fruit. Trials often bring out the worst in us: anger, bitterness, fear, laziness, self-focus etc. But thankfully the worst is pruned off as God convicts us of our sin and helps us turn from sin to righteousness. The pain from God’s pruning will fade as the fruit of righteous flowers for all to see.

God gives us opportunities to see if our faith is proven to be genuine…

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7 NLT

It is easy to proclaim your faith from the rooftops and be charitable towards others when things are going our way, but how easy is it when you are grieving or your traumatised because your house just burned to the ground?

All trials, however great or small give us an ‘on the spot’ opportunity to prove who we really worship and service – our own comfort or our Lord?

Before I came to have a relationship with God I found funerals so sad – but shortly after I became a Christian I attended a funeral of my friend’s grandmother. They were a Christian family with a very strong belief in God’s promises and it really struck me how the family was rejoicing and celebrating a life well lived – the family knew God had called her home and they would see her again. What a comfort that promise was for them!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 NIV

PERSEVERANCE … tenacity – the original meaning of adhesiveness, as of glue, is a dogged and determined holding on. So being tried should make us even more determined – fighting against the easy option of giving up, don’t be quitters!

Since God has revealed through Scripture some of his purposes for trying and testing us, what then, is our obligation? Our obligation is to be grateful to God, to be fully persuaded of his goodness, and to realise how much he loves us.

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

If you receive bad news; an unexpected bad report on a health check, the sudden death of a loved one or your spouse is leaving you, your emotions will be reeling. But while times are trying you must remind yourself of the goodness of God. Pray – thank you for letting me be so healthy until now, thank the Lord for having your loved one for so long. At the funeral I mentioned earlier my friend read Psalm 121…

I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed the Protector Israel does not slumber or sleep. The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter by your side. The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life. The Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever.

The Lord has a purpose for our lives – he has it all mapped out with a clear path and journey. We can’t possibly see or understand the plan but there is one – and we have to trust that he will protect us and be there every step of the way.

For I know the plans I have for you – this is the Lord’s declaration – plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11 – I’ve read it hundreds of times but since the death of the celebrity Jade Goody ten years ago I’ve always associated that verse with her. Her illness and her final days were played out very publicly in the media and through her own writings. After she was diagnosed with cervical cancer she built a relationship with God and openly shared about her faith…

“I’ve always prayed but now I do find it helps. Maybe the big man upstairs thinks ‘She’s a tough cookie, she can handle this. She’s watched her dad inject heroin, watched her mum do crack, she’s lost a baby, had boyfriends who’ve hit her. Yeah she can handle this too. But I do think after this is over, God might think I’ve had more than my fair share to deal with.”

She went on Big Brother and other reality shows to find fame – she wanted everyone to know who she was. In the end her legacy and her life had a purpose far beyond anything she could have imagined. The publicity of her death at 27 prompted many to have cervical smears – saving many lives. The “Jade Goody effect” is talked about even today in the news, though sadly the next generation have missed that important message and now there is a worry that not enough woman are attending their appointments. She also saved souls – through her testimony, and the easy way she explained her faith many others have come to Christ. She christened her two young sons before she died and told them she would be watching them from heaven.

When she told her sons she was going to heaven one of them said “Heaven is a bad place, it’s where people go when they die.” She noted how she corrected him “No, that’s not right, it’s where sick people go to get better.” She went on to tell people how she had a version of the Bible which was easy to read – she looked through it when she was feeling down and it really helped her.

I remember weeping as I read the book she wrote in those final days – the strength of her belief in heaven and the afterlife played a big part in her being able to deal with leaving her loved ones behind. She hung on to life with her fingernails – she didn’t want to let go and she fought to the end to achieve something in this life. As painful as it was for her I like to think she would be so very proud of the legacy she left behind – she would never have chosen it but God knew exactly what he was doing from her coming to her going.

I wrote the majority of this post almost 10 years ago – Jade Goody was just a couple of years older than me so it made me sit up and notice the importance of living every day like it’s our last. I had a reminder of that again a couple of weeks ago when a beautiful lady (a friend of a friend) lost her battle with cancer – leaving behind five precious children. Our mutual friend said something so poignant – “she wouldn’t have wanted anyone to be sad…. she’ll be at peace in her new body”. It reminded me of these thoughts I’d shared with a ladies meeting all those years ago so I thought I would update it a little to share with you.

Sadly, life is short, we will bury friends and family, who in our opinion are called home to soon – we aren’t promised tomorrow. But isn’t that the message we need to hear? When God calls you, do you want to be able to say you achieved something, you left a legacy and you will some day see your loved ones again?

What are you putting off today that simply shouldn’t wait to tomorrow? Is God calling you to a new task? Is he calling you to make a difference in your world even in the middle of your battles? Or does he simply want you to accept that he is the way, the truth and the life? Always be thankful for each new day you are blessed with – whatever challenges it brings, whatever struggles you are facing, with each new day there will always be opportunities.

I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10