It wasn’t what I wanted to pray, but it was the only thing on the tip of my tongue and ringing clearly through my mind. There were no other words to pull from. But even as I said them out loud, I half wished I could pull the words back into my heart and tuck them away for a better occasion.
Did I Really Just Say That?!
“God, I declare Your goodness over everything, over all of it, Lord. You are good, God. You are good.”
I can’t even honestly say that my own heart believed what came out of my mouth in that moment. I stood with my friend as she received the worst news of her life, and all her pieces came falling down around her. She was screaming in agony, her heart wrenched and her worst fears dancing around her pain. I wanted to scream with her. I wanted to ask the proverbial, “Why?!” I wanted to tell her it was all going to be okay. But it wasn’t. And all I could do was pray. And all I could pray was that.
I walked away from that encounter with a bewildered heart. I didn’t know how God would do it, but He had just opened my mouth to utter the promise that He would prove His goodness through her suffering. And though the how was a mystery, the fact that He would indeed do it was not. I know because I’ve seen and heard of such a thing before.
Sometimes Goodness Comes in Strange Packages
Like the time my friend went to visit a small church in Africa, with a Pastor who had been raised from the dead. Naturally, the message he carried was supernatural, which enabled him to walk into a village littered with dead bodies and preach a sermon entitled, “Today Is a Good Day.” Good to who? Yet the little church in the little village did not disagree with the man who had beaten what claimed the lives of the others all around them. He knew something they wanted to know, too. He had made it to the other side of the strange package that goodness had been wrapped up in.
When I was suddenly struck with debilitating, stroke-like migraines, I went to the only place I knew I would find hope: the church. And while there, I did what most people in church do: I prayed. It was another one of those situations where I didn’t really know what to pray for. Should I ask for healing? Should I look for answers? Should I give thanks and hope for the best? Should I beg for mercy? I didn’t know, so I just opened my mouth and prayed the first thing that came to mind. Surprisingly, the words that came were words that asked to see God’s goodness.
Nothing about what I was going through seemed good. In all honesty, it looked and felt like a curse, and there were plenty of good, praying people who were rebuking it from the onset. It was a suffering I did not want to embrace, but God had wrapped His goodness up in it, so who was I to refuse such a gift?
The apostle Paul, from a prison cell he did not know if he would make it out of, wrote that everything that had happened to him there had helped to spread the Good News (Philippians 1:12). There’s that word again….Good. And there’s that strange package again…undeserved imprisonment.
God is Good
The gospel of Jesus is the Good News. The Good News includes the painful reality that Jesus gave up Heaven and all His glory to come to earth as a vulnerable human being, live a perfect and unselfish life, endure tragically unjust suffering and a cruel death for a world that didn’t know how to appreciate such a sacrifice, was raised from the dead and finally ascended back to the throne He left to suffer for our sake. Where is the good in all of that, some might wonder? Strange package indeed.
All of this makes me ponder the truth that God’s ways are so much higher than ours. (Like…another planet kind of higher!) His thoughts are not anything like our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). When we think of what is good, it very often does not involve anything uncomfortable. But God can bring the best things, unimaginably good things, out of the deepest, darkest and sometimes most painful things we are given to endure. What’s more, He not only brings the good out of its strange package, He also puts the praise-filled declaration upon our often surprised lips: “God, You are SO GOOD!”
We can’t made declarations like this on our own. We can only do it in cooperation with His Spirit, Who is longing to produce such a declaration in and through our lives.
Whatever you’re facing today, or may face in your tomorrow, I wonder if – while you might consider it a strange package – God just might be thinking of it as the perfect one to display His goodness in? Can you fathom the possibility that God intends to bring good out of what now may seem to be only evil (Genesis 50:20)?
I’ve seen it too many times to deny the possibility. And His Word is full of stories that confirm this testimony. So I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start looking for signs of His goodness in my difficulties. The stranger the package, the greater the goodness, I am willing to wager!
May you, along with me, find this to be true in your life today, and always.