We sing the chorus: ‟God is so good; God is so good; God is so good. He’s so good to me.ˮ Wait! God is not good because He does good things for me. Rather, God does good things for me because He is good. The difference affects my attitude.
We do not ascribe goodness to God due to His good acts. Goodness is essential to God’s character; His nature is goodness. He does not have to prove His goodness by His performance. God is good. He demonstrates His natural goodness in our lives. Because we are performance oriented, we think good deeds reveal someone’s character and we tend to think the same way about God. Such backward thoughts about God create problems. When we do not see or experience what we think is good, we doubt God’s goodness and we fear our circumstances. In essence, the focus shifts to us and our conception of what’s going on. We become fearful, substituting fear for faith, faith in the essential character of God. We must believe that God is good, that He can do no wrong, no evil, only good.
Hannah Whitall Smith said it well: ‟A great many things in God’s divine providences do not look good to the eye of sense . . . . But faith sits down before mysteries such as these, and says, ‛The Lord is good, therefore all He does must be good, no matter how it looks, and I can wait for His explanationsʼˮ (The God of All Comfort, p. 103, Moody Press, 1987).
While I tried to learn this lesson, the bottom fell out. Our little corner of the world shook up; changes happened rapidly and I began to focus on the circumstances around me. We sensed a move was in order but our future plans were uncertain. Our daughter announced her engagement, yet we had depleted our savings because of our unsold house in Kentucky. My doctor advised surgery to alleviate a long-standing physical condition. My faith did not prove adequate for the circumstances.
At this same time, the shuttle Challenger had its fatal accident. The explosion brought a fresh realization of life’s uncertainty, that we are not promised life without problems or even tragedy. With this came fear for personal and family safety. A proposed mission trip to the Orient became a dreaded undertaking instead of an anticipated ministry opportunity. Fears about travel, health, finances and ministry made me numb. This paralysis of fear showed up in the ways I acted and reacted. The slightest decisions, even about what to eat, seemed more difficult to make.
Again the Lord spoke to my need through Scripture. While reading a list in Revelation 21 of those who would taste of the second death, one group stood out—the cowardly—and headed the list of murderers, idolaters and liars (v.8). The cowardly, the fearful, would not be among those who inherited eternal life. I did not want to be a coward and miss out on life. Psalm 38 described me: burdened, folly, ill health, feelings hard to express. Was there a cure? I read on: ‟I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sinˮ (v.18). At once I confessed my anxiety, my fear, as sin. Then God did His work:
‟I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fearsˮ (Psalm 34:4).
This first key step in moving from fear to faith, admitting fear as sin, helped me confess to God and receive His forgiveness. Faith cannot rule unless fear is dealt this fatal blow. But there was more for God and me to do.
To be continued . . .