Today's post was written by pastor Rick Cowan. You can visit his website here.
It was quite a shock to find ourselves behind two air bags and atop a fallen traffic light last night. We reacted like any parents would, quickly checking to see if all the kids were OK (having to calm six shaken kids forces you to look past your own nerves!). Once we assessed the condition of our kids and realized they were all safe (apart from some seatbelt burns and a loose tooth), we began to praise God for his goodness.
This morning as I reflected on the accident I began to thank God for his goodness once again. Then it occurred to me. What if one of us were seriously hurt? What if one of my kids were taken away via ambulance? Would God not still be good? What determines God's goodness? Things going our way? Averting injury? What prompts us to thank him for his goodness?
The truth is, God's goodness exists outside of circumstance. It is not determined by what makes us feel good. God is good all the time. Not because our lives are pleasant all the time. Not because we get what we want all the time. No. God is good all the time because his goodness is an unchangeable aspect of his perfect character.
It was sobering this morning to search my own soul and consider, would I still be thanking God for his goodness if our accident had a less than happy outcome? I pray that I would.
It was right to thank God for his goodness yesterday, not simply because he kept us safe but because he is good no matter what he chooses to do. No matter the circumstance, God never violates his goodness. So, to thank God in this way is to affirm within our own hearts that God is good even when circumstances are bad.
After thinking on this a while this morning I began to consider -- "What then could have been a better prayer?" I began to thank God, not just for his goodness, but for his mercy. The truth is, we deserve nothing. Our sin condemns us to death. Yet God, by his mercy, chose to allow us to keep on living. I don't deserve life and I only live by his mercy.
Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. [KJV]
I am thankful for God's goodness, which is independent of any circumstance. I am also thankful for his mercy on undeserving men. I am thankful that God is unchanging and that no matter what happens we can be assured that he has violated none of his perfect attributes. He is the unchanging, unmovable Rock upon which we can build our lives.
Psalms 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. [KJV]
Yesterday, at about 4:00 p.m. a tornado ripped through the town of Goderich, Ontario. It was the most severe tornado to hit the province since 1996. Goderich, situated on the shores of Lake Huron, is known as the prettiest town in Canada. (This designation stems from a comment made by Queen Victoria on the basis of a relative’s description.) The tornado touched down, and devastated, the historic town square. ‘The Square’, which is in fact an octagon, is notable because it was actually built with a plan; it didn’t just happen by chance as many towns did. Most of the buildings in the square still date from the 1800s, except that now many of them are missing walls and roofs.
I am sharing this news with you to make two points.
1. Life, and all the material possessions you hold dear, can change in an instant. The tornado in Goderich was over in a matter of seconds.
2. There is always someone in need that you can be good to.
In I Timothy 6:18, Paul instructs Timothy to tell the people, those who are rich in this world’s goods, (I Timothy 6:17) to do good and to be rich in good deeds. Be generous and share with others.
Thankfully when natural disasters occur, people are usually very generous with donations of money, food and clothing, sometimes overwhelmingly so. It seems odd to hear agencies such as the Red Cross tell donors to stop giving, that they have enough, but it has happened. What is less common is for people to keep giving when the big news story leaves the headlines. Goderich’s historic town square, like all the other places that have been hit by tornadoes, earthquakes or tsunamis, will not quickly be rebuilt. And there are a lot of people in your own community who need someone to be good to them too. A single mom who needs help with child care. Those who have been hurt or who have had surgery who need help with household chores or yard work. The student who needs help with his math homework. The elderly person who could use a ride to the grocery store. The man who has lost his job but still needs to feed his family.
John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
Look around you. What good can you do?