The mysterious goodness of God - Hope 103.2

The mysterious goodness of God

By David ReayTuesday 12 Nov 2013LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Job 1:18-22

18 While he was still speaking,another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. 19 Suddenly,a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed,and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 21 He said,

         “I came naked from my mother’s womb,

             and I will be naked when I leave.
         The LORD gave me what I had,
             and the LORD has taken it away.
         Praise the name of the LORD!”

22 In all of this,Job did not sin by blaming God. (NLT)

A firestorm strikes a street. One house burns to the ground while the one next door emerges unscathed. Imagine each homeowner was a follower of Jesus. We can rightly imagine the owner of the intact house praising and thanking God for its preservation. But they would do so with great puzzlement as well. Why this house and not the other? If we thank God for keeping one house safe,what do we say to God about the destroyed house? Is he good for one neighbour and not the other?

We may have heard testimonies of Christians who have changed a flight booking at the last minute and so avoided being on an aircraft that crashed. They rightly thank God for saving their life. But what about those who made the flight? What about his goodness in relation to those people?

There are no easy answers to all this. We can echo Job and believe that while God sustains overall control of his world,he is not some omnipotent tyrant inflicting random tragedy on people. And we know from that book which bears Job’s name that suffering and loss is not necessarily a sign of God’s displeasure. So we rightly avoid the grotesque suggestion that God allows one house to burn and another to stand as his way of showing his displeasure at sinful humanity.

We are left with the certainty of God’s goodness and our call to give thanks in (not for) all circumstances. But this is a mysterious goodness. A goodness whose ultimate demonstration was a tortured death on a cross. God’s goodness is not seen in some pristine,perfect landscape. It has to be grappled with and embraced in a messy and loss-stained world.

David Reay