We are looking today at the subject of forgiveness. To forgive a person who has hurt you deeply may be the greatest challenge you ever face and the greatest gift you ever give. Imagine standing right next to a hurdle on a racetrack. You are right up against it. You...
A sneaking suspicion lingers in my heart. It never ceases to lie to me: “God isn’t good,” it says. “Wouldn’t you be healthy if he was?”
It often masks itself in other lies:
- “What did you do to cause this pain?”
- “You must not have learned your lesson yet.”
- “Why doesn’t that person ever suffer? Why do you always seem to?”
The suspicion arises freshly when my body hurts in new or different ways. In the pain, it tempts me, fooling me into believing that maybe, just maybe, God isn’t as good as I thought—not in the moment at least.
Not toward me.
Three Ways God Is Good to His People
When you’re confused, heartbroken, in pain, grieving, lonely, betrayed, disappointed, and angry, I wonder if this sneaking suspicion lurks in you. Has it spoken its lies, and have you believed them?
The prophet Jeremiah’s sneaking suspicions during the Babylonian exile must’ve been overwhelming. God’s people had betrayed him by their flagrant sin, and their punishment was deportation, the humiliation of exile. Jeremiah had been sent to speak God’s words to his rebellious people, but they wouldn’t listen, and turned away continually from the Lord.
But in God’s kindness, in the midst of Jeremiah’s discouragement, God communicates to him precisely how he’ll do good to his people:
- He will give them new, united hearts. “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them” (32:39).
- He will create in them changed, obedient hearts. “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me” (v. 40).
- He will keep their hearts, bless them, and delight in doing so. “I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul” (v. 41).
What does this have to do with us believing lies about God’s goodness? Everything—for the same promises God made to Jeremiah anticipate the promises he’s made to Christians through Jesus Christ, the promises we cling to when the sneaking suspicions arise:
- God, in his goodness, gives us new, united hearts through faith in Christ.
- God, in his goodness, changes our hearts as the Spirit teaches us repentance from sin and obedience to his will and Word.
- God, in his goodness, will keep our hearts until we see Jesus, bless us by working all things together for good, and will delight in doing so.
So yes—God is undeniably, irrevocably, eternally good.
Fight the Lies with God’s Truth
If these things are true; if God was telling Jeremiah the truth; if God is telling us the truth, then there’s absolutely no room left for believing the sneaking suspicions of our lying enemy, whose sole ambition is to steal our peace, kill our joy, and destroy our faith, convincing us of the soul-damaging lie that says God isn’t good.
No. We must stand firm. We can stand firm; Jesus guarantees it and equips us with weapons of warfare, specifically the belt of truth, to fight the lies we so often believe.
“God is punishing you.”
Fight back with Romans 8:1 and Hebrews 12:10-11. Say to the sneaking suspicion, “Because I’ve been called by God according to his purpose, I will never be condemned. Jesus took God’s wrath and my eternal punishment, so there’s none left for me. The hardship I’m going through isn’t condemnation, but loving discipline that God is using for my good, that I may share in his holiness. He’s being good to me, and doing good to me. He’s proving that he’s a good Father, who cares about my soul and won’t neglect it. Rather than the fear of punishment, he’s sowing in me his peaceable righteousness and training me for godliness.”
“God doesn’t care.”
Fight back with Psalm 91:1, Psalm 139:3, and Exodus 2:23-25. Say to the sneaking suspicion, “God shelters me and covers me in his shadow. He’s a refuge for me. He doesn’t stand far off, but knows all my ways. When I’m struggling, he isn’t aloof; he hears my cries, sees me, and knows what I need better than I do. He’s a good God who cares for me, and the proof of this is the cross.”
“God doesn’t understand.”
Fight back with Isaiah 53:3 and Hebrews 4:14-16. Say to the sneaking suspicion, “Jesus knew the greatest grief, the basest betrayal, and the most scornful hatred. He didn’t avoid the pain, but entered into it willingly for me. What a good God, a feeling, all-knowing, empathizing God. In every respect, he knows what I’m going through, the temptations to give in and give up. He does understand, which is why I can ask him for mercy and grace to help me in my time of need.”
“God is cruel.”
Fight back with Joel 2:13 and 2 Peter 3:9. Say to the sneaking suspicion, “My God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Just because my circumstances seem cruel doesn’t mean God is. No, he is good, and all he does is good. He’s not slow to fulfill his promise toward me, but is patient with me and wants to bring me closer to himself through repentance of sin and awareness of my need for Christ.”
Destroy Every Argument
Sneaking suspicions hold no power over those who are wrapped in God’s goodness through Christ. And so we fight:
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)