God is not good because…

Some of you followed Titus’ struggles, his rollercoaster ride through weight fluctuations and our visit to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. You may remember the stories of the creeping prosperity gospel, how we were told that God would come through, that Titus would be healed if we asked in faith because God was good. I heard sermons of the blessings received when one lives in God’s “favor,” as if grace were a lollipop given to the good-grade kid.

I wrestled with these theologies, theologies that lacked balance and brought no comfort in the trials of the moment. I thought about the faithful followers who can’t seem to catch a break, or worse yet, are broken by persecution. I remembered college friends, strong believers who lost two children to early graves. Are they less favored or blessed? Is God less good because he failed to deliver from the pit?

In the waning worry of this season, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: you can sum God in simple self-help theologies that misapply words like “favor,” and “faith,” but when tragedies come calling, don’t expect comfort from your lowercase gospel. It won’t be there.

This week we received good news about Titus. He’s turned a corner of sorts, and he’s climbing back onto the growth charts. (A parent couldn’t be more proud of the fifth percentile than I am.) And let me be clear—I am grateful for God for seeing fit to give my son life; I am grateful to those of you who faithfully prayed and continue to pray. But likewise, let me be clear—God is not good because he spared me grief; God is not good because he shortened a dark season; God is not good because he healed a frail toddler. God is good because that is his nature; he is good because he is.

You may say that’s tautological double-speak in-and-of itself. That’s your call. But I ultimately found that the less I tied God’s goodness to the result of my choosing, the freer I was to experience the joys of a redeeming, preserving, merciful, and faithful Christ.

That’s the pearl that was worth the struggle. I hope I don’t easily lose it.

This entry was posted in A Good God, Grace, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to God is not good because…

  1. Amy McCathran says:

    So very glad Titus is doing better! I really appreciate this post. Our son has had several heart surgeries, and I was told by a few that his heart would be healed if I “believed more” or “prayed more fervently.” I had a peace during his last surgery that I know came from the Lord as I realized that he is the Lord’s child that I was entrusted with on earth. He is taking care of him no matter how it may physically be dealt with. You are so right that God is good because HE IS!

  2. Yes yes yes, a million times yes. God is not good because we get what we want, and God is not bad because we don’t get what we want. Nor do we get what we want if we are good or strong or righteous and not get what we want if we are sinful and evil and weak. Thank God.

  3. one of the best short and poignant pieces i have read. peace… brandon

  4. Jessica Y says:

    Rejoicing with y’all.

  5. Pam O says:

    Yes! This is timely for me as I incredulously wrestle with God’s present and apparent plan for us. Thanks, Seth. And, I’m happy for you that Titus has turned that corner.

  6. Yes to a million times! I think this view of God, the prosperity-giver if we obey, fosters such bitterness when our expectations of blessings aren’t met. Or we see those “others” who don’t keep all of the rules like we do, and they have more. That’s not who God is as if I fully understand God.

    Rejoicing with you for Titus’ health gains!

  7. Thank you, Seth. I could never articulate my feelings on the words ‘favor’ used in a spiritual context as great as you did in the above piece. I cringe when I hear it used for hurting people from true believers. As if Our Father selectively chooses and grants just a few of us to be “knighted” and granted what we want in a lottery. See? I can’t articulate my gratitude to you for your thoughts. I love some Haines family for sure!

  8. I am glad to hear about your son. I haven’t commented, but I have been following.

    In an hour, I am going to meet with a principal about a problem with one of my kids. I respect this woman so much because she has gotten the short end of the stick: husband (a coach) had an affair with a student and was fired, then she lost one of her daughters in a freak car accident. This woman is wise. This woman is the only one I trust in this situation because life has not been kind to her, yet I see her at church, her two remaining daughters by her side.

  9. prudychick says:

    It seems twisted that we would have peace knowing that God is good in the healing & financial provisions and in the tragedies & bankruptcies, but yet…there is abundant peace knowing that our God’s goodness doesn’t falter based on the goings on in our lives.

  10. God is good, all the time. Wow, that must take such faith to say in heart-wrenching circumstances. What a lovely post. Makes me think of Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”

  11. stace says:

    the last paragraph covered me with chill bumps. so, so glad to hear about titus. our whole family is rejoicing 🙂 such a powerful learned in all of this (though i doubt it’s the only)!
    love y’all

  12. Funny how the word ‘God’ and the word ‘good’ are only separated by an ‘o’…maybe the gig of sanctification is about each of us finding our ‘o’, as in ‘oh, I see now’ or ‘oh, that’s what that was all about’…for now Titus is better, so we say ‘oh boy!’

  13. hopefulleigh says:

    God is good because He is good. That’s one of the most important, mind-blowing lessons I’ve learned in the past few years. And I didn’t even grow up in a prosperity gospel kind of church! Yet that type of thinking creeps its way in everywhere. Glad to hear Titus is doing better.

  14. Ann Kroeker says:

    God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good. That’s what we say, but you are living and preaching it. God is good. Period.

    A friend who endured much suffering loved the worship song “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” The song covers circumstances both good and bad, and then sings out that in any and every situation, “blessed be the name of the Lord,” conceding, with Job, “You give and take away…blessed be the name of the Lord.”

  15. Can we just take a sledge hammer (okay, a soft and gentle sledge) to all that teaching that somehow limits God’s goodness to our correct behavior, our magical thinking? Oh, good. You agree. Thank you so much for this, Seth. And especially thanks for sharing Titus’ beautiful 5th percentile. You go, T.

  16. Way to go Titus and mom. Ever ounce percential enjoy and praise GOD.
    In the middle of trials its easy to say”why me Lord” forgetting we are not promised an easy life. Our daughter was not on the chart for a long time. Today at 9 she is only at the 23rd but when we went to get new leg braces they had to add special features because she is getting “Heavey”. I never thought anyone would say that about my girl. I like the sledge hammer idea. God is not limited by us, Dr, therapist. We have a walking talking smart sweet little girl in regular third grade. shes in the picture. she may have CP and other problems but she struggles on happily
    I’m Uncle Henry’s granddaughter by marriage. Max and Bettye’s oldest son David. Just in case you did not know how I fit in the family.

  17. I confess. I came back and read this two times more. It’s that good. So good.

  18. Sarah H says:

    That’ll preach, friend. And hooray about Titus!! H still isn’t on the charts so 5th percentile is HUGE! Seriously amazing. Would love to know how the diet stuff is going sometime.

  19. Josh says:

    Yes, yes, yes. If God is only good to the degree that He chooses to ease earthly human suffering, then a billion suffering throats stand ready to accuse Him of either malice or impotence. But God IS good because He is, and because He offers an eternal hope beyond suffering.

    I’m so thankful that your son is improving. Blessings to you and yours.

  20. Annie says:

    Glad to hear the news about your little man, and grateful for these good, good words.

  21. I could say so much but I will just say amen, to Titus’ report, to your words on these words that get spun and woven and weaved and put forth….see I could say so much but I’ll just end with amen, friend.

  22. Sarah Denley says:

    Oh, Seth, there is so much truth here. My heart breaks when we try to measure God’s disposition to us based on our circumstances and/or our faith or lack of it. Sometimes it just comes down to living in a broken world, no?

    That said, t is SO hard to keep an eternal perspective, especially when our children are involved. I think one of the greatest struggles I (and maybe humankind?) have is giving up control and few areas are as hard to do so in as the area of my family. But how right you are in that we experience so much liberation when we don’t let our (met or unmet) desires color our view of the Lord.

    Tangential question: Do these crazars think Jesus wasn’t praying hard enough when he begged for the cup to pass? Confounding, really.

  23. I was here. And God IS good. So good, in fact, that there is grace for all our crazy theologies.


    P.S. I don’t know if I have ever read a more powerful “God is good”.

  24. Pingback: 27:13 (On fringe followers and the goodness of God) | Seth Haines

  25. Marcia pfeiffer says:

    Amen Seth! God is good no matter what storms are raging in our life. God is good because He can be nothing other than good. It is His nature. His ways and thoughts are way above our understanding. He is truth, light and love. If he does nothing more for us than what He has already done on the cross, we are blessed. I will continue to pray for you, Amber and Titus. However, what you have learned in and through this season is unmeasurable! Continue to go with God and He will go with you! Love you guys, Marcia

  26. Pingback: the fifty-sixth formica friday | see preston blog

  27. Pingback: the goodness of God - Sweeter by the Day

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s