Monday, August 26, 2013

Good or Gracious?

"God is good."

This is a phrase most often repeated after some situation works out as we hoped it would. We prayed for a job and received one so, we say it. We pray for a child for many months or years and now our belly is growing so, we say it. 

Is God good? YES! Of course He is! 

Is God good because we get what we want? No. He is good because He is God. 

Is it wrong for us to say "God is good"?  Nope! However, it is wrong for us to think that his goodness is proved by how much we like how things are going for us.

So, after thinking this through I try to remember to say, "God is gracious" when something goes as I hoped or prayed it would. I also try to preach to myself that "God is good." when faced with heartache, disappointment, or tragedy. I have found this practice so helpful to me.

Saying "God is gracious" reminds me that I don't deserve anything from The Lord. When The Lord sees fit to do something I think is good, it is not because I deserve it. It is simply because He has shown grace for His glory. Realizing this humbles me and makes me thankful. 

Saying "God is gracious"  also reminds me that He is good all the time. It reminds me that He is gracious because He is good. EVERYTHING that happens is because He is good. Even during the painful seasons of life He is good. When things don't go as I had hoped, He is still good. I am reminded that this pain, trail, or denial of my wants is for my own good. I am reminded that He is using all events to transform me into Christ-likeness.  I am reminded that He is good and gracious for providing me the strength and faith I need to deal with the difficulties of life.

This thinking leads me to pray for grace more than my wants. I realize that apart from his grace my life would be hopeless and I would be in the dark destined for hell. Now, when I approach the Lord with a request, He reminds me that I don't deserve for things to "go my way." So, I pray that He may be gracious to me, if it be for the glory of His name. 

In addition, the phrase "God is gracious" may be less of a stumbling block to the lost. I have lost friends who have stumbled over the truth that God is good, but painful things happen to believers. If, when something goes well for us, we say instead that, "God is gracious" we have the opportunity to explain our sinfulness (how we don't deserve this blessing) and, ultimately, the good news of Christ.

I encourage you to remember God is good all the time, whether things are going as you would like, or not. And, when the Lord does bless you with something you have prayed for, praise Him for his grace!

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