Providence, Part II: God's Goodness

I understand how easy it is to wax on about how good God is when life is going well, but I want to acknowledge that life can be difficult; it can be painful and sorrowful. And I want to assert that God is still good, even in this grim reality. God still provides for His children. To understand this truth, we must make some distinctions: God's time is not our time, we do not have an accurate understanding of what is “good,” and we have a warped view of what we deserve. God exists on an eternal timeframe, as do we. Our souls are eternal. Our bodies will be renewed at the resurrection. Death is but a bump in the eternity of our lives. What we believe to be of urgent importance may be inconsequential in the light of eternity. God is good forever, even if right now it seems otherwise. We tend to experience “goodness” in the context of lessening pain and increasing pleasure. It is “good” when I am spared a tragedy. It is “good” when I receive rewards. And, truly, these are good things, but they are not goodness. If they were the extent of goodness, Christ would not have been sacrificed; He would not instruct us to carry our crosses also.[foot]Luke 9:23[/foot] Even our cultural stories acknowledge this. In our movies and literature, good emerges from conflict. The good guys are the ones that do what's right, though the world around them is filled with greed and selfishness.[foot]We relate even better to flawed heros because they're circumstances are much like our own: they aspire to do what is right even though they themselves are filled with greed and selfishness.[/foot] Goodness is higher than such base desires as evading pain and seeking pleasure. God is working for our redemption, and, in that context, pain and pleasure are irrelevant. God's goodness is a higher goodness, informed by the context of eternity. God is redeeming us for a time and place where there is no pain. We're just not there yet. By living in a world where 100% of the population is broken, it's easy for us to view our state as better off than it is. We tell ourselves, “I'm not as bad as that person,” or “I do more than most.” We think that by being better than others, we deserve more in return, but we are all decisively broken, deserving nothing. If we deserved goodness from God, then it would not be called “blessings.” God is giving us more than we deserve, in a manner that's better than we know, on a timeline that's beyond our cognitive ability. God's provision is not lessened by pain and hardships, we just don't always recognize it for what it is.