Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created (James 1:16-18, NIV).
God is good – all the time. And all the time – God is good. That statement is a bedrock foundation for the Christian faith. Without a basic affirmation and belief of God’s goodness, our faith will experience cracks and not stand the test of hard circumstances and difficult situations in life. Without the steadfast conviction that God is good, the alternative is that God is somehow fickle or even mean – that he does not really care about the problems we experience in life.
Last week I had an experience I have not had in twenty years; I bounced a check. First of all, it's embarrassing because I didn't have the resources I thought I did. It's frustrating because you tack on the charge for your negligence. So, here I walk into the bank where everyone knows the pastor. And I get to walk up and tell them that the pastor needs to clear up his insufficient funds. A trial is like a bounced check. You feel stuck with a problem that you don't have the resources to solve. The temptation is to rant to God: "Do you see me over here, God? Do you see what I’m going through? Are you paying attention? I'm about to bounce a lot of spiritual checks here. I don't have the resources. I don't have it emotionally. You're rattling my faith, God. Don't leave me in this mess.”
Those expressions of desperation you feel so awful about are in fact the exact truth that God has been trying to bring to your attention. You flat out don't have the resources. He wants you to come to the place where you humbly get before him in a deeper way and tell him what he's known to be true all along: you are in over your head and you need him. Your poverty of spirit enables you to receive from God.
When life is good, it is not a stretch to say God is good. But it might be easy to slide into a belief system that thinks God is the problem when situations take a turn for the worse – that somehow God is the source of our trouble. And if we have not been working on a relationship with God, we will have scant resources to draw from in a time of trouble.
God is good. God is not mean. Every single good gift that there is in this world comes from God. Nothing evil can come from God. There would be no good in this world if God was not around. God’s grace is constantly around us. If his grace were not here, it would be like living in a dystopian novel. It would be like a zombie apocalypse where everyone is constantly looking over their shoulders for the next evil thing to happen. But, although there is evil in this world, it could be a whole lot worse if it were not for God’s goodness.
People will typically question God’s goodness when they do not understand what is happening with something they do not like. They want answers. They want justice. They want stability. And when it does not come right away, they might question if God really cares. But you do not need to understand everything about a situation to know that God is good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Nothing can separate us from God’s love – not trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword – not any adverse circumstance that occurs in your life.
God has good plans for his people, the church, because he is a good God – all the time – without changing like shifting shadows. As long as we believe we have the resources and abilities within ourselves to do church ministry, it will likely either not happen or not occur with the blessing of God. Only through the humility of dependence in a good God who gives good gifts is there true hope and faith. World Communion Sunday reminds us that our good God is at work in people from all nations and ethnicities all across the earth, providing spiritual nourishment to us at his hospitably good Table. Thank you, Jesus.