Meditations for Troubled Times
“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)
“But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus, he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:19-21)
“A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of evil devices he condemns. A man is commended according to his good sense, but one of twisted mind is despised. Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel. From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man's hand comes back to him. Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” (Proverbs 12:2, 8, 10, 14, 25)
A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What comes into your mind? A children’s Bible picture? God gives something better through His invisible attributes. (See Exodus 20:4-5 and Romans 1:19-20.) God’s attributes are either communicable or incommunicable. Communicable attributes only belong to God whereas incommunicable attributes are ascribed to man as an image bearer. Goodness happens to be one of those that is part of the character of God as well as a fruit that the Holy Spirit gives and develops in a believer. If you look at Genesis 1, you see that everything God created in the space of six days had a good conclusion. Joseph recognized this eternal fact and comforted his brothers. Sometimes as we read about the what and who that is created, our minds tend to wander away from the importance of this goodness upon the inhabitants of the world. As you go on vacation to the beach, do you ponder the goodness and mercy of God as the waves rush upon the shore and stop at that invisible line? Or do you think upon how the wind, moon, and heavens cause the boundaries of the sea to change? Or what about the beautiful plumage of the peacock and the variety of birds that grace our skies? Or the blooming beauty of the flowers so many of you post on social media? God said these are all from Him, and that they are “good.”
These are examples that grow and move according to God’s wise counsel. Charles Hodge writes in his systematic theology, “The goodness of God in the form of benevolence is revealed in the whole constitution of nature. As the universe teems with life, it teems also with enjoyment. There are no devices in nature for the promotion of pain for its own sake, whereas the manifestations of design for the production of happiness are beyond computation. The manifestation of the goodness of God in the form of love, and specially of love to the undeserving, is, as just stated, the great end of the work of redemption. Goodness, in the Scriptural sense of the term, includes benevolence, love, mercy, and grace. By benevolence is meant the disposition to promote happiness; all sensitive creatures are its objects… Goodness is found even in our dilapidated nature, and it commends to our moral approbation, we know they must exist in God without measure and without end. In him they are infinite, eternal, and immutable.” (Remember Clif’s concluding remark in Sunday School about the benevolence of God in giving spiritual gifts to the church according to Ephesians 4:11.)
The goodness in the fruit of the Spirit is done through moral and benevolent actions, especially to the household of faith (Galatians 6:9-10). God is good all the time and all the time God is good, but not so the wicked according to Psalm 1:4. May I suggest you test your goodness level using Proverbs 12? Do you work evil devices and have a twisted mind? Are you cruel to animals? Do you speak good words to distressed brothers and sisters? There are more comparisons and exhortations in Proverbs 12 that I commend to you.
Here is a gift for you husbands: a link to a memorial written by Dr. David Powlison’s wife on his death. See Dr. Powlison’s goodness toward his wife and children from her own words. https://www.ccef.org/a-special-note-from-david-powlison/
Think about this prayer from The Valley of Vision:
Thou Creator, Upholder, Proprietor of all things,
I cannot escape from thy presence of control,
Nor do I desire to do so.
My privilege is to be under the agency of
Omnipotence, righteousness, wisdom, patience, mercy, grace.
Thou art love with more than parental affection;
I admire thy heart, adore thy wisdom,
Stand in awe of thy power, abase myself before thy purity.
It is the discovery of thy goodness alone that can banish my fear,
Allure me into thy presence, help me to bewail and confess my sins.
-Elder Tim Verner