Church

October 21 2011
93

I was raised to believe that blessings and healing and victory belong to those who believe. Which is a wonderful thought. But the flipside of that belief is that failure, sickness, and lack are signs of not believing enough.

So while I was taught to instinctively respond to “God is good” with “All the time”, it was understood that God’s goodness is only reflected in the goodness of our own lives.

It’s not in the pain or the difficulty or the challenges. For those, clearly, are signs of a wayward heart… a faltering faith… an unexposed sin.

Basically anything but blessing, success, and victory boiled down to me not being enough.

Not praying enough.
Not believing enough.
Not claiming the victory enough.
Not speaking words of faith enough.

It was drilled into me that difficult and painful circumstances were never God’s will for me. And if I found myself in the midst of them, then obviously I needed to change/fix/do something to get back in right-standing with God, so that things would turn around.

I think back now and I wonder how I processed all the stories I read in the Bible.

You know, stories like Stephen being killed because of his faith. And Joseph’s decades of wrongful imprisonment. There’s also Paul’s beatings, jail sentences, and never-abating thorn in the flesh. John the Baptist, Jesus’ own cousin, had his head chopped off. And let’s not even talk about Job…

I don’t know what I did with those stories that clearly flew in the face of the you-will-always-walk-in-blessings-if-you-have-enough-faith breed of Christianity I embraced.

Because the truth of the matter is this: There are a good many things in life that I simply can’t believe my way out of.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Bad things happen to God-fearing people. Life isn’t fair. And life is harder than anyone ever tells you it’s gonna be.

A faith that only acknowledges the goodness of God when things are going great, isn’t faith at all. It’s nothing but a sandcastle mirage…

Faith is believing that God is good even when my life is anything but.

Faith is believing that God is good even when my world is caving in.

Even when the sickness isn’t healed…
When the pain gets worse instead of better…
When my husband leaves me…
When I lose everything…

Faith is looking at my world that’s spiraling out of control and choosing to believe that the God of the universe is still in control.

God is good. And God is sovereign. And faith is believing both those truths at the same time.

Life is hard. This we all know.

But, still… God is sovereign, and God is good.

All the time.

No matter what.

93 comments

  1. Beautifully true.

    Thank you, Alece, for sharing this. I so appreciate you, my friend.

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  2. Lorraine R.

    It’s amazing how we are taught to believe that. I’m in the midst of situations where the scales are being removed from eyes. Learning that some of the “pretty things” that I learned about God through out my life are a slightly skewed version of what it’s supposed to be. I read a book two years ago that helped to change my view about God’s goodness and has taught me to see the goodness even in the midst of pain, heartache and trial. 100 Gifts-A dare to live fully right where you are, by Ann Voskamp. I would recommend that to anyone that was willing to read it – it will truly change your heart and teach you how to look at Gods Goodness All.The.Time! Thanks for sharing this much needed truth!!

    Reply
    • i’m always hearing about ann’s book… i think i may need to pick it up one of these days.

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      • Amanda

        I have a copy if you need one to borrow :) I’m in the middle of reading like 5 books (apparently I need to work on finishing what I start…), so probably won’t get back to it for a while. Let me know :) I’ve heard great things about it!

        Thank you for continuing to share your story…I have learned so much from you and am so blessed to know you (and even more blessed that now I’ve actually gotten to HUG you…God is good!)

        Reply
  3. I can say those things, “God is good and God is sovereign,” but I’m not sure the words satisfy. But it’s weird because there is something down deeper inside me that I can’t translate into words and it has surrendered to ‘what may come’ and that part of me still has hope that I will never be completely crushed.

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    • I like the way you said this because it is something I feel too.

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  4. This was beautifully written and filled with truth and encouragement.

    It’s not what we can do or haven’t done, it is what God has done and is continually doing in our lives.

    I’m thankful the burden is not on me.

    FlowerLady

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    • “i’m thankful the burden is not on me” — YES. well-said, FL…

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  5. Excellent blog. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. Wow. You put into words what I’ve felt for a really long time. Thank you.

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    • thankful you told me that, tj…

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  7. Angie

    “I think back now and I wonder how I processed all the stories I read in the Bible.” Never thought about it that way. How can we reconcile the stories of Believers in His Word and that idea that His blessing or goodness is based on how hard we believe or how much faith we have?

    Great, great post. Really encouraging, thanks Alece!

    Reply
    • i feel a lot of dissonance in my faith these days… and i’m learning that that’s not a bad thing…

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  8. Yes. A thousand times, yes!

    Being the daughter of a pastor as a little girl, I didn’t grow up in church, because we were asked to leave when I was maybe 8? or 9? And by the time I was 13, I bailed on God alltogether. My return Home with all my garbage I had and continue to have is the world mixed in with legalism, mixed in with Christianity, mixed in with my upbringing, etc. I say all that to say I didn’t “embrace” that “breed” of Christianity, I lived among people who, believer or unbeliever, thought that success was the measuring stick. I recall a few years back thinking about the whole lot of junk in my brain and the new things coming in from God’s Word and I wondered, “If success is the measuring stick, if blessing is the reward, if suffering and sickness and trials are the form of a bad faith, what about Jesus?”

    I can’t say I live that each moment when I’m dealing with the things I am, however, I go back to it constantly when I’m being bombarded by the world and the world’s Christianity, which is really just the world’s standard with Jesus tacked onto it. We are told we are no different than our master……He suffered, He was persecuted, and He did it for us. If nothing else happened to us, if His death and resurrection was the only blessing we ever received in our faith…..that would be enough. It’s the thing we could never do on our own, it’s the only thing that gives life. And eternal life at that.

    Reply
    • Lori Smith

      So well said….that rhetoric is just worldly wisdom with “Jesus tack on to it” that is soooo true. Let’s just get back to the Bible and READ. Read it all from chapter to chapter in contex…not some random scripture!

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    • a thousand times YES…

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  9. Faith

    Alece I love this!!! Sounds somewhat like what I was raised with and in my church growing up. I think people like to believe they are more powerful than they are like “I believe in God therefore I hold the key to His blessings”. In reality life and everything in it is in Gods hands, He Alone holds the key to His story for our lives. For me it’s been like a weight lifted off my shoulders to know that God is the only one in controll of my life, weather it be good or bad. Thanks for once again putting beautiful words to my thoughts :-) I’m going to give this link to a few friends.

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    • yes! it turns God into a puppet on a string… where we know exactly how He operates and we “manipulate” Him accordingly. we get in trouble when we base our faith on statements like “God always” and “God never”… as though we know the mind of God…

      love you, girl.

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  10. a friend is living the hard stuff right now and learning so much in watching him/them…..holding tight to He is good even when I don’t understand…http://www.mightymelodyfund.com/index.html

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    • ohmyheart. i just read a bit on your friend’s page. so hard… praying for you and them…

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  11. I always feel so genderally incorrect on here…

    “God is good, all the time” is almost a liturgy, but in my head it rings as “I will trust that God is good, all the time, even when I don’t think He is.”

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    • I can appreciate that Bernard.

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    • And usually I find I can stomach the wording of Mr. Beaver when he says about Aslan in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

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      • that’s one of my all-time favorite quotes out of literature, mandy. probably because it’s how i feel.

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    • we appreciate our guy readers SO much, bernard. thank you for braving the comments.

      and the way you said that? just perfect. amen and amen.

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  12. Beautiful post!
    I had embraced the same breed of Christianity you had … so this hits home.

    But truth be told, I struggle with this line … “God is good. And God is sovereign. And faith is believing both those truths at the same time.”

    What sovereign does or doesn’t mean trips me up.

    But one step at a time … I’ll keep asking, seeking and knocking.

    Thanks!

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    • Me too, Janet. Me too.

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    • there is such a dissonance in my faith right now… but i think that’s okay.

      i don’t think it’s so much about the finding out of answers but the asking, seeking, and knocking. so i’m right there with you….

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  13. So encouraging. Thank you for writing so honestly and beautifully.

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  14. Yes. Thank you for posting this, Alece. You have to ignore so much of the Bible to believe that blessing fall to only those who are faithful and sickness to those who are not. I should be obvious but somehow a large number teach this. Truth is so very good. It is reassuring no matter what happens He loves, He rules and He is victorious….and all those are true in for us. He has won us even when we don’t feel like a prize…or rather a bride!

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    • you’re right… it should be obvious. so i shake my head at how i lived deceived and blinded for so long…

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  15. I wasn’t raised with this ~ But I just realized that right now, as an adult who maybe should know better, I’m being taught every Sunday that God will be good to me if only I will grow my faith a little stronger and I will believe a little harder.
    He is the author and perfector of our faith… and yet still I’ve believed the lie.
    I needed to read this post. And I’m forwarding it to my husband.
    Thank you SO MUCH.

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    • i hear freedom in your words, jenny… freedom…

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  16. This post so hit my heart right where I am at. In the learning that He is good…no matter what and I have to have faith in Him…even when I don’t feel like He is good. Faith and courage… what He is continually teaching me about. How they go hand in hand.

    Beautiful post Alece. It’s always such a blessing to read what is on your heart.

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    • we are on similar journeys, christy…. “how they go hand in hand”… absolutely…

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  17. Cilla

    After watching my younger sister, age 16, spiral downward with a mental illness, it has been VERY hard to verbalize the truth, God is good. Life is shitty sometimes… somehow it gets better though.

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    • life IS shitty. praying we both have eyes to see His goodness in obscure places today…

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  18. So good Alece. Faith is about believing even through lament as well as in times of praise.

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  19. One of my favorite posts, Alece. Thanks!

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  20. I love how you always wrestle real, buzz. I am so grateful that we wrestle through hard heart things together. Thank you for you. always.

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  21. Beautifully said. I think hindsight typically reveals God’s goodness, provision, and protection… but in the midst of a storm, it’s hard to see. Thank you for this reminder to veer away from circumstantial faith and embrace the true heart of our Father…

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    • you’re absolutely right. my One Word for this year has been LOOK, for that very reason. i want to train my eyes to see Him — or to at least look for Him — in the midst of the storm and not only after it dies down…

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  22. One of my favorite authors/speakers says this: “Those historically experiencing the greatest measure of the Holy Spirit’s power are those who doggedly choose to give up control over how their life must look-and instead call good whatever God has allowed, caused, withheld, delayed or denied.” John Lynch

    I find that is where the rubber meets the road for me. Will I call good whatever God has allowed, withheld, delayed or denied? What makes Him good to me? Is it based on who He is or what I see Him doing?

    I grew up with so much of what you stated here. If something were wrong in life I needed to find out why and what could be causing it. Maybe I needed to confess some unconfessed sin… or maybe there was someone I had not forgiven. Had I had adequate time in prayer and Bible reading? If I had a flat tire on the way to work the question was, “did you have your quiet time?” … uh no I was running late this morning. “Well that’s probably why your day is going so poorly.”

    I want to scream at those words today, but back then I didn’t know any better.

    Jesus got it all right for me so that I wouldn’t have to strive to …. For the first time in 53 years of life I am learning what real, authentic grace is. The word grace is thrown around some much, I’ve discovered, that we can so easily become anesthetized to it… We’ve lost sight of that grace really brought to us in the church today. This new life in Christ is a sheer gift to be received…and lived…

    I loved these words today as I could relate to so many of them…

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    • my heart just kept shouting YES YES YES as i read through your comment…

      and that quote you started with? so powerful. so good. wow…

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  23. So true! I try to remind myself when I get a blessing and I’m tempted to say “God is so good!” that I need to say this when I get something that hurts as well. His goodness is not dependent on my circumstances. Neither is His sovereignty.

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    • oh my dang, yes. i cringe inside when i hear (or even say) “God is good” when something wonderful happens, because the challenge remains… would i still have acknowledged His goodness if things had happened differently?

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  24. Oh, I think that really bought into that growing up too, and I felt ashamed to be broken & suffering. Now God is renewing my mind, encouraging my spirit, strengthening my whole being – giving me a grace that I can now extend to others that sometimes astounds me.

    Love this!

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  25. i’ve thought about this post all day – it’s where i’m at, RIGHT NOW and sometimes it’s just hard to process that truth. i’m so thankful for these words, alece. i’m so thankful for you.

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  26. I’ve heard this concept compared to a three legged stool — with one leg being God is sovereign, another God is good, and the third that life is hard. If you remove any one it creates problems/doesn’t ring true. If God isn’t sovereign, well, he’s not God. If God isn’t good, we’re left with life is hard and God is soverign which means he’s cruel. And if we stick only to God is sovereign and he is good, it doesn’t ring true with what we are often left facing (when in fact life is often hard). Thanks for the post!

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    • wow! i love that mental picture… that is so good. i need to remember this…

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  27. I love this! It goes along with something that has been ringing through my head recently: Perfection is NOT required. :)

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  28. Alece,

    Beautifully written…

    Faith and our belief that God is good all the time is tested and refined when we are immersed in trials, pain, and suffering. God’s goodness in my life has been radiantly revealed in the darkest of times.

    Joan

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  29. I totally agree… Life def hurts. I wrote about how one look of Jesus can transform it all though here…http://noraeshank.blogspot.com/2011/10/beholding-him-loved.html
    Love what Oswald Chambers has to say about it.

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  30. I totally agree… Life def hurts. I wrote about how one look of Jesus can transform it all though here…http://noraeshank.blogspot.com/2011/10/beholding-him-loved.html
    Love what Oswald Chambers has to say about it.

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  31. Love what Oswald Chambers has to say about this.
    http://noraeshank.blogspot.com/2011/10/beholding-him-loved.html

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  32. This very teaching caused me to put a smile on my face and tell everyone how absolutely wonderful my life was…when, in reality, piece by piece…it was being chipped away…by me, by him, by the very hard knocks of life.

    I know…I really do know…now, I’m exactly where Divine Love has placed me. It’s not anything like I imagined it would be. But, I’m living it…and it is good…even while it is so very very sad.

    Thanks, Alece.

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    • yes… this was the underlying factor in the plastic masked christianity i grew up in…

      and there is such freedom in brokenness… we are both learning to live there…

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  33. David was a man after God’s own heart…and lived in a cave for months (years?) as a fugitive in fear of his life. He wasn’t perfect and neither are we. And while I don’t want to say eventually things will get all rosy as you eventually reach whatever your version of “ruling all of Israel” is, I know this: God is sovereign and following him will ultimately be better than anything else the world can come up with.

    Keep rocking it.

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    • i heart you, peirce. thank you.

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  34. Oh, girl. You, too? ME, TOO.

    I still don’t have a clue how to make it all make sense but somehow it does in my heart and so I remain there. Your story here is my story, too. Thank you, friend.

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    • YES! i don’t have a clue how to make it all make sense either… i’m finding i live in the dissonance now… and that’s okay… it’s hard… but it’s okay…

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  35. If I only believed in the goodness of God in the good things that happen in my life, I wouldn’t be able to believe at all.

    Great post!

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  36. Jim Parker

    Awesome. May I quote you? :-) Thank you.

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  37. bill lanier

    Sitting here trying to get over the flu and a shattered bone in my right foot, I recall the stroke, the 2 weeks in a coma, a heart attack, my kidney failures, gall bladder removed, kidney transplant, more kidney failures and now in my third year of dialysis at home, almost completely bankrupt financially, and wonder, “Where do I fit in the prosperity gospel of the name-it-claim-it ilk that is clogging the airwaves and our spiritual veins…?” and then I come across your blog. May God bless you with the things no man can purchase. I love you.

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    • so glad you stumbled on our ragtag community, bill. we’re in this with you.

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  38. Thanks Alece for your words-
    I emailed you a few months ago- now a month into separation after my husband left in September. I am choosing everyday to fight to embrace the words you wrote – Faith is believing that God is good even when my life is anything but. My pain does not dictate truth.

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  39. Thanks Alece for sharing your journey and your faith in our good God regardless of circumstances. Great post!

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  40. Andrea

    Beautifully said!

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  41. “Faith is believing that God is good even when my life is anything but.”

    This is SO true, Alece, and yet so hard to live in the truth of so many times. It’s much easier, after all, to believe in God’s goodness when life is good … but when times get hard, it can be such a struggle to trust in His goodness. Thanks for the beautifully worded reminder today!

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  42. I believe you are right to say God is good all the time … and yet tough things happen … that is certainly part of the faith walk. THis was a lovely reminder to not just teach our children that God IS good and that sickness is not of Him, but also to teach them how to walk in faith when it seems all the walls are crumbling down around us … to develop a strength and resiliance in their walk … thank you for the post and the insight. Blessings, God is Good.

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  43. JAVONDA

    AWESOME MSG! Thank u so much for the encouragement!

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  44. Anastasia

    I really did find comfort in talking to God and just praising His Goodness…Our hearts are full of love even during hard times, but we can’t release it because we have no reason to (given the circumstances. Not being able to release that love is what makes us suffer. Praying and praising and talking to God is a way to release that love. The only tragedy we will ever truly face is when we lose faith in Him and his Goodness.

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  45. Atuyota

    God is good u said, when everyone around me is progressing ,God is good when all my friend are doing well,{ where is the goodness of God in my life?} can somebody pls tell me still leaving in my parent house over 30, last every money i ever made through sickness and infirmities! Lay hands on sick and they get healed instantly, interpreting of dreas and hard sayinys and they come to pass , breakthrough for people , yet still single and burning, ? Yet God is God this i know just let him be good to ME , i need his goodness in my life. Thank u for that God is Good logo i will be using it as my screem saver,it brought me so much peace i mean GOOD.

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    • Praying for you right now…

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  46. Yemmy

    Dis piece has been such a blessing to my soul. Tanx Alece. God gives to you more of His wisdom to edify the heart of His people. Yes indeed our God is Good no matter the situation, hold on to that and He will guide you through. Bless you.

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  47. Ginny

    I was needing a verse or 9 to counteract satan’s attacks today off “God is punishing you” and “You are not good enough – that is why you are suffering” and Google dropped me into your post. I can’t say AMEN loud enough.
    Thank you so much.

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    • and THAT was just what I needed today.

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  48. daring

    You say it … but do you really mean it?
    God is good. Such simple words. Yet how hard to utter when things are falling to pieces around us. At the first crack we wince… but obey, and tentatively say “God is good.” The crack deepens and grows… spiderwebbing across everything… yet still we obey and with tears spilling down our cheeks we say, “God is good”. For we know that even now He could choose to step in and heal every crack and fissure. And we wait… expectantly. Yet He doesn’t step in. In horror we watch as the glass of our life shatters into a million pieces. And now we stand… numbed to the pain of our own cuts… staring at the fragments of what used to be our family and life. We try to obey but our mouths just can not utter those words now. For our minds can not begin to reconcile the pain, hurt, betrayal and devastation with the fact that God is good. The two just don’t seem to compute. And indeed if we saw all that there is to see… then the two could not compute. But we truly can only see through a glass darkly and though we see no beauty or goodness it is there. “For faith is the substance of things hoped for… the evidence of things unseen.” We must trust… and cling to the hope that e’en when we can cannot trace his Hand and we see no evidence of His fingerprint we CAN trust His loving heart. “For His grace has no limit, His love has no measure.” And though we walk through the deepest and darkest valleys… though the fires burn their hottest… we can say God is good. For He is… though we may not see it now… Believe it… For He has been my shelter during the storm, my refuge in time of trouble, my strength when I had none left… and He carries me when I can not walk. So although I can not feel it right now… I know it to be true. I clench my eyes shut… swallow my tears and hoarsely whisper, God is good.

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    • yes. yes and amen. thank you.

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  49. am glad to here what God did for you.i really desire to walk with this God you are serving .Help.

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    • how can I hep?

      praying for you…

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  50. may your God become my God.help.

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  51. Anyagile M wanyamaki

    God is so good with no more explaination that is enough

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  52. Dan

    thanks be to God for your message and for your life. Faith is the key of vitory for this life. God bless who have faith in him:)

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  53. Hector Dominguez

    Good Morning & God Bless. My name is Hector Dominguez and I am a Christian Rapper from Chicago IL and I am working on my debut album and I was wondering if you would ever consider reciting this “God is Good” entry that you have over an instrumental? I have been working on this cd for about a year and the title that I gave was God is Good! I was trying to figure out how to do something different and unique while at the same time keeping the message of how Good God is without compromising the truth. I was searching the internet for pastors, videos, or even audio to sample into the album but nothing came up until I clicked on your link. I wanted to know if A). Could I use your GOD IS GOOD Piece for my album B). Would you be interested in actually recording your voice with your passion and emotion so that you’re Piece could be captured the way the author (you) intended it to be? C). How much would it cost me lol. Please email me back at your earliest convenience. Have an awesome and blessed year. Looking forward to your hearing back from your.

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  54. Rebecca

    I know this is an older post, but I was searching for something and it showed up. I do believe God is good, no matter what. I believe..Paul had a thorn in his side, it didnt go away. But I also believe we are allowed to fall into specific situations for our good, ON the path to our destiny. I do believe, believing particular scriptures and confessing them is KEY to getting victory over those situations. To not grow faint, lose faith, complain or become hopeless, is pertinent. Take Joseph for example, he went through every single trial (each which are significant in our own lives, a pit, a prison etc) for a purpose, to prepare him, change him (notably his pride in the beginning)for the ultimate call. Every scripture promise is life giving, and true. God wants those things for us.
    Dont get me wrong, 12 yrs ago, i was the victim of an abusive-openly cheating husband, with 3 children i left. Making $600 a month with no sitter, and no daycares. Life hasnt progressed to much better. The income raised, some. But, i have a clunker car, that couldnt be trusted to get me to a job everyday. (wow what a change for a girl who grew up in a million dollar a year home-UGH!). But i had taken a different ,worldly path, and quit believing that God has a future for ME, yes ME–(wow), to prosper me, He delights in prospering me. So, back on track, and reading, studying everyday (and no in college at 44 yrs old) I BELIEVE ~~ once again. And I do believe this too shall pass.

    Reply

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