Friday, July 7, 2017

God is Good All The Time!

I don't think I'll ever forget it.  I won't tell his story because I don't know much of it and it isn't mine to tell.  But a small bit of the story I think is mine.  He had suffered from illness for awhile, in fact, I believe he was diagnosed just a few months before I found out that I too was being attacked by cancer.  The last Sunday that I saw him was probably his last to attend church before he went home to heaven.  He had been talking to my husband, and I walked up to greet him.  His last words to me were simple but heart felt.  He looked into my eyes and with deep peace simply said, "God is good ALL the time."  I wanted to grab his arm and talk to him.  I wanted to share what God had been teaching me thru my hardships - to truly delight in God no matter the circumstances.  I wanted to hear exactly what God had been teaching him because it was apparent he had learned some lessons as well.  However, I could tell his energy was lagging and that he needed to leave, so I simply agreed with him, God is indeed good all the time.

I saw a quote not long ago by Graham Cooke:

“If you are in mourning, you have the opportunity to worship in the most powerful way possible: lamentation. This worship isn’t done in order to have God remove the pain. It simply recognizes that God stands in the moment with us. Lamentation elevates God in the presence of our enemies. It brings out a side of God that other forms of worship simply cannot touch.”

When I choose to worship God, delight in Him, and give thanks to God in times of hardship, in times of grief and distress I believe it sends a very strong message.  A message that my church friend sent loud and clear.  It is a message that  the world, our church, our youth and children need to hear.  This ability to sincerely declare "God is good!" even during difficult circumstances proclaims to the world that God is worthy of our praise no matter what. It shows our children that God still stands with us and loves us and is truly trustworthy.  It magnifies Him.  This declaration helps people see that He is worth following for a lifetime. I think the enemy is fearful of this kind of worship because it is powerful.  

There is another powerful time of delight and worship that I think brings equally deep fear to the enemy.  A time that makes a very strong statement of God's power, love, strength and glory.  It is a time that seems to make people so uncomfortable that I've seen them gently reprimand others for it.  When God shows up and shows off with power and people declare "this is what God did for me! God is good!" well meaning friends will respond "God is good all the time" as if to say, "don't declare God's goodness during your celebration - it will make those who are going thru hard times feel bad."  (I know that isn't what all who say that mean, but many do!) Frankly, this as a lie of the enemy.  In fact, I think it is because we hesitate to declare God's miracles, His greatness in the good times that our children, our world, and yes, even our church fail to see God's power.  I think it is one reason our youth and young adults don't continue to attend church after they leave home.  Why would they follow a god that they see as powerless and unable?  Those who are grieving, in distress, and floundering NEED to be reminded that God is still in the miracle-working business, they need that hope!  I know I did and our friend reminded me even in his pain.  Let's cut the enemy off at the knees, bring satan to a place of cowering in fear because of our declaration of God's power.

Let's begin to celebrate freely!  Let me declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord. (Psalm 118:17)   After all, My God IS good ALL THE TIME - yes, even in my celebration.  How sad is it that I hesitate to tell good news because of other's discomfort in declaring God's glory?  Look at God's work in my life! See what He has done!  He is all powerful!  He is my Delight  in good times and bad.  He is Jehovah Rapha - The Lord Who Heals.  He is El Roi - The God Who Sees!  And this time He has seen fit to see me, to heal me!  My doctors were so sure that cancer had again attacked my body that they had plans in motion for treatments after my surgery.  BUT GOD.  On my way to the appointment to see the surgeon after surgery, I received the call that the pathology report showed no cancer.  I believe God healed me.  Since He can see me, work miracles in my life and love me, He can do the same for you -no matter your circumstances.  Just as God walked with our church friend and carried him though his time of illness, God walked with me.  God was good then and He is good now.  Praise HIM!  If I could talk to that friend again, I would thank him for so gently reminding me when he knew I was waiting and hurting -  "God is good ALL the time."

One of my favorite stories in the Bible recently has been the story of Moses in Exodus 33.  Moses was pleading for God's favor for the Israelite people and then he asks God, "Show me Your glory!" God tells Moses to come to the cleft of a rock and  passes before him, protectively covering Moses with His hand until He had passed by.  As God took His hand away Moses could see the back of God.  In Ex. 34:6-7  "Then the Lord passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands...."  I've always pictured this in my mind as God solemnly walking past Moses somberly saying "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate.....".  Then I recently heard it described another way.  Probably much more accurately than I had pictured it.  What if instead of solemnly walking by, God was jumping up and down, dancing - perhaps throwing his hands in the air celebrating Himself as He delightedly declared to Moses, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious...!!"   My challenge to you is to not be hesitant to declare God's glory in fear of hurting others, but to be like God Himself, jubilantly celebrating His glory and goodness and thereby encouraging those in pain.