God is good—all the time; and all the time—God is good! We love to shout out this truth. But do we really believe it? The messages I hear are confusing. People cry out that God must not be good because of the bad in the world, or they cry out that He is good, but attribute it to something pleasing that has happened to them. God is unchanging, so He is either good all of the time, or He is not good at all. His goodness is not determined by world happenings.
I recently heard a couple in full-time ministry say God spared their daughter’s life during a car accident because they were faithfully serving the Lord. They ended their claim by joyfully stating, “God is good!” I always cringe when I hear statements like that. God was very good to spare this young lady’s life. But sparing her life did not make Him good, and taking her life would not have ceased to make Him good. He was no less good when my sister and her fiancé died in a car accident. He was no less good when my brother died of leukemia. We cannot say that the young lady’s life was spared because her parents were faithfully serving the Lord. What then of a dear family I know who served faithfully in a very difficult country, yet went through the agonizing experience of losing their toddler while serving? What about those who have been martyred for their faith in Christ? What about my siblings? Were they somehow not faithful enough? No! God doesn’t work that way. He promises that He will work all things for good. We love that verse—Romans 8:28—don’t we? Yet in that same chapter, Paul says, “We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”
Few of us will ever come anywhere close to suffering for God what He suffered for us. Yet we must be willing. “What then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also along with Him, graciously give us all good things?” (Romans 8:31-32.)
God’s ways are not our ways. We see suffering as bad. God, who did not spare His own Son, allows suffering in our lives as part of the “all good things” He promises. Bill McChesney was in the WEC Candidate Orientation with Walter Mohr. Walter remembers someone praying over their class, dedicating them “for service or for sacrifice.” Walter did not appreciate this prayer, thinking, “Yes, Lord, we want to serve you—but not to be sacrificed.” Yet the prayer was prophetic. Walter and his wife went on to a life of service. Bill McChesney was brutally martyred during the Simba rebellion in the Congo in 1964, at only 28 years old. We must prepare our hearts for service or for sacrifice. Whichever path God chooses to take us on, there is good news—no, great news! It is also found in Romans 8, in verse 18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” and in verses 34b-39: “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness of danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
We are more than conquerors! And how do we conquer? A seasoned missionary recently spoke to me about Revelation 12:10-11. He reminded me that there is a third component to how we overcome the evil one in this life. We often repeat, “they overcame [the accuser of the brethren] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony,” but forget to include, “and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Because God is good—all the time—He is worthy of our very lives. As C.T. Studd said, “If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
In Matt Redman’s song, “Blessed be Your Name,” he proclaims that he will bless the Lord’s name no matter what—”In the land that is plentiful; when [he’s] found in the desert place; when the sun’s shining down on [him, and] the world’s all as it should be; on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering.” No matter what life brings, I want to join in singing, “Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be Your glorious name. You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, ‘Lord, blessed be Your name!’