Is God good
when life isn’t?
That is one of the headings of the sessions in
Max Lucado’s series on the life of Joseph*. It has been good to explore
this very up and down story as we go through such a challenging time
ourselves. There have been many points of connection for us as we seek
to be faithful disciples. I hope that the sermons have been helpful.
In the video introduction to the series,
Lucado comments about the tough and dark experiences that we can all be
faced with at times: “You’ll get through this – it may not be painless;
it may not be quick, but God will use this mess for something good. In
the meantime, don’t be foolish or naive; don’t give up; don’t despair.
With God’s help, you will get through this.”
God was with Joseph through each situation,
and blessed him with success at various stages of his rocky journey.
This young man who caused division and resentment in his family
gradually grew up and matured to a point where God could really use him.
As we reach the climax of the story and the happy ending, Joseph looks
back and sees how the Lord has been at work. He says to his brothers,
who are fearful of reprisals after their father’s death: “You intended
to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being
done, the saving of many lives.” Gen 50:20
The popular chant goes up - God is good all
the time – and all the time God is good. But so often, this really gets
called into question because life can serve up some unpleasant and
testing experiences. There are no simple answers as to why someone dies
young of cancer or through some “act of God” like a hurricane, wild fire
or flood – God often gets the blame, though he rarely gets thanked for
all the good things in life. After all, who gets blamed when millions
die young due to human conflict and global injustice? We can all be
found wanting in allowing so many to starve across the world when a
frightening proportion of food we buy in the UK goes to waste – 17.7% I
There are some great books that help us
wrestle with the big question above. Three of the classic texts are: C S
Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, David Watson’s Fear no evil and Philip
Yancey’s Where is God when it hurts? They each face the reality that
there is so much that we honestly don’t understand, and that it can be
so hard to get our heads around things that cause us hurt and grief.
Paul writes that “God was reconciling the
world to himself in Christ...” (2 Cor 5:19). He came right among us and
bridged the gap between heaven and earth. He really understands
suffering and is not absent. And he gives us that same ministry of
reconciliation – to be peacemakers, his children, reflecting his image
We need to keep on singing of the goodness of
God (even though we can’t sing together at the moment!). As the new song
goes – I love Your voice, You have led me through the fire And in
darkest night You are close like no other I've known You as a Father,
I've known You as a Friend And I have lived in the goodness of God. All
my life You have been faithful... **
May we be inspired by the story of Joseph, and
indeed the great cloud of witnesses, as we seek to press on in life’s
journey and to lead others into a life-changing relationship with Jesus
Christ – for God is good and he is faithful and will accomplish his
purposes even when we struggle to understand what is going on. Let’s
lift up our eyes and set our hearts on things above (Col 3:1-4). This
will surely help us get earthly things around us in proper perspective.
With very best wishes
You'll Get Through This, by Max Lucado, Thomas Nelson 2015