There are times when all the cruelty and suffering in this world moves us to doubt the benevolence of God, His intrinsic goodness. When God allows pain in our lives it’s easy to conclude He doesn’t love us, and even to be angry and resentful toward Him.
But where does doubting God’s goodness lead us? Does having no hope in our suffering make it any better? If God really can’t be trusted, if He isn’t ultimately benevolent and kind, how are we going to escape Him? What else is left, if God isn’t faithful?
Giving up on the goodness of God is to give up everything … there’s nothing left worth having.
God invites us, “O taste and see that YHWH is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” (Ps 34:8) Rather than asking God to explain Himself we can ask Him to help us trust that He knows what He’s doing, and that it’s all for a good reason.
So, what does this actually mean, to say that God is good. It can only mean that He aligns with a moral standard, that His behavior is right and appropriate. Yet, He Himself is this standard; He creates the standard according to His nature, defining for Himself and for us all what is right and appropriate — so the definition in this case is a bit circular. This is, however, not problematic — it is inevitable: such standards cannot create themselves, someone must define them and God is free to do as He wishes simply because He is God. The fact that He voluntarily chooses to live according to His own standard, even when this causes Him to suffer, is indeed impressive.
In the end we can all be sure of one thing: no one in Heaven will be disappointed or angry with God; we will be overwhelmed with delight and gratitude for all He has done. (Re 15:4) One day all His children will understand fully … and will rejoice in Him. (1Co 13:12)
The Psalmist says, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Ps 27:13) Evidence of the unfathomable goodness of God is all around us. We think seeing will help us believe, but the truth is that we need to believe so that we can see. God isn’t asking us to deny the reality of suffering, or to refuse to fully engage in life, but calling us to an expectation and hope that He will bring beauty from ash and life from death. (Ro 8:28, 11:36)