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It’s a fair question.  We hear the statement all the time, and sometimes don’t even stop to think about it.  “Sure, sure,” we think to ourselves and quickly move on to the next thought.  And maybe those thoughts lead to a consideration of all the evil in the world, or our own suffering or injustice.  If our minds are still aimed at God, well, now what do we do?

I was sitting around a dining table last night and found myself in such a discussion.  At first I was just listening, but I was so drawn into the conversation that I soon began asking questions myself – and being asked more in return.  It was very challenging, to say the least, and time well spent.  I now feel I have a clearer understand of why I personally believe God is good.

There are a couple of answers we typically hear.  It’s very disconcerting to not have an answer for something, so we try our very hardest to make sense of something that just doesn’t.  The problem is, neither is comforting to the hearer.  If you’ve just lost your child or your job or your home, or if you’ve just been unfairly accused, it is of little value to hear that God caused it and will bring good out of it.  I don’t even believe that’s true.  Neither is it helpful to think that He merely allowed it.  That, in my way of thinking, makes Him out to be either impotent or uncaring or He just wasn’t paying attention.

And yet we say He’s good.

So what’s the answer?  I don’t pretend to know it, but here’s what I do believe:  God is good, and there is evil and injustice and pain and heartache in the world.  Both are true.

Of course this begs the question, why do I believe God is good?  For me, it is not just a matter of faith, or because the Bible says so or because anyone else says so.  I think human beings inherently know what good is, and we have found it to be the way the world should be.  I don’t see that to be the case with evil.  We don’t see that as right.  In fact, we try to fix it, or if we can’t we despair because we see no hope of the world or our circumstances being made right.  So we believe evil to be a perversion of good — never the other way around.  We don’t believe good is a perversion of evil, and that evil is the norm.

In my last post I tried to make the point that God is the Creator, the Originator of all that is.  Believing that to be the case, I have to look at Him as good, because we believe life to be good.  Our experience of it is not always good, and I don’t mean to minimize the pain we all feel or gloss over the problems in the world with a flippant platitude.  But because we know what it should be, we know that is what it was created to be.  And a good creation comes from a good creator.

I hope I have made my point.  These thoughts are new to me and I am not confident in my communication of them.  But I am absolutely convinced of their truth.

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Is that all God does?  I mean, from some folks, like insurance agents or news anchors or legal people, it’s all we hear about.  There is an earthquake, a huge flood or fire, a drought, and we call it “an act of God.”  Some who attribute the Almighty with these catastrophes would not even acknowledge His existence any other time.

I was sitting in class this week when I heard this term again, and I welled up.  Really, I did.  Our world is not as it was originally intended to be, and we see disaster all around, on a global level as well as a personal one.  But to point the finger at God, well, I think He deserves better.

OK.  In the Bible we read that He caused famine and pestilence and all kinds of horrors on Egypt.  Why?  Because He wanted them to be good to His people.  Egypt had enslaved Israel and HE WANTED GOOD.  That’s what He always wants.  He said, essentially, “Don’t make Me do this.”

That’s all I’m saying.  When these things happened in the Bible, there was purpose.  They weren’t random acts of meanness from a celestial killjoy.  God was not displaying His power and killing people and causing grief “just because.”  He always had a point.

Which is exactly the point.  There was a warning, a prophet, a forerunner to tell people what would happen if… whatever.  It is unfair, unkind, and unbiblical for us, today, to say, for example (and this angers and saddens me greatly), that God is judging a particular region or people when they experience natural disaster.  Where was the warning?  Who predicted this in the name of God?  This is an afterthought said, mistakenly, in God’s name, in hate and disgust and fear.  He is not party to it.

Does God not do good?  YES!  YES!  I see it all the time, and so do you. Why is there goodness and beauty in the world?  Why do we understand justice and liberty?  Where did we get our standards?  Where do creativity and diversity come from?

I want to acknowledge His acts and thank Him.  And know that He is good!

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