God is Good. (but my daughter is sick, that lady wants children, you have cancer, and that guy is unemployed)
I am staying home from work today. Meagan, our 4 year old, has been sick for 3 days. It is probably just the stomach flu, but it is hard to take. Unable to keep anything down, my precious child simply watches TV and dozes off, only to awaken to nausea, a prelude to the inevitable bowl clutching ceremony. She doesn’t cry anymore. Just a little moan, “Daddy, I don’t want to be sick anymore.,” then she asks me to put her ponytail back in and wipe her mouth. She lies down again and clutches her monkey blanket. And my heart longs for her to be well again. I say a little prayer, and I trust that in a day or so she will be fine. Teresa and I have had little sleep, and now I am beginning to feel unwell. But I am sure that this affliction is light compared to yours.
Perhaps you have prayed about your afflictions. Maybe you prayed to be free from a certain besetting sin. Maybe you have prayed for healing from a chronic illness like cancer. Or maybe you really need a job to support your family. Perhaps you have prayed for a baby to love, maybe you keep experiencing miscarriages, or you are unable to conceive. Some perhaps long for for a spouse, for someone to love. Perhaps you have been faithfully praying for a long time.
But you still keep on sinning…
you are still sick…
you are still unemployed…
still disappointed…in God…
I know what you are going through. My affliction is not limited to watching my child vomit for 3 days straight, there is greater affliction my life as well. And I am sure that most us do have affliction. And often we become disappointed.
But God in His Word calls us to live by faith in His promises to us.
Psalm 34:10 says, “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” God promises that those who seek Him will lack no good thing. Which means, if something is good, God will give it to us. But Meagan is still sick. He still struggles with porn. She still has cancer. You are still unemployed, childless, alone…How is any of this good? What is this “good” that He promises us? My second favorite Psalm answers, “I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” And Paul reiterates this in his letter to the Philippians, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
All that affliction? That “thorn” in your side? That cancer? That unemployment? That childlessness? It’s a write off. Count it all loss compared to knowing God in Jesus Christ.
And this is not just some head knowledge thing! It is not just about knowing the Bible, memorizing the Heidleberg Catechism and having sound doctrine (even if those are important things). This about knowing God in his glory, in His love, and in His grace. This is about having a relationship with Jesus. God is our greatest good. So being set free from that addiction can be good, or maybe God is using it to draw you closer to Him. Being healed of cancer can be good in that it displays God’s glory, but so can not being healed, perhaps he is drawing you nearer to himself. Children are good and spouses are good, but if the Lord does not give you children or a spouse, that is good as well.
We can look to Paul as well. No one knows for certain what his “thorn in the flesh” was, but it was an affliction to him. And he rejoiced in it:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
So even though Meagan is still sick, and he still struggles with his sin, and you are still lacking healing, or children, or a spouse, really you are not lacking any good thing. Why? Because in the sickness, childlessness and loneliness is how God will draw you nearer to Himself. When God promises that we will lack no good thing, he means we will lack nothing that would bring us more of Himself.
“But I still want a job, children, healing, a spouse…” That is fine! There is nothing wrong with longing for and praying for these good gifts. But don’t be disappointed in God if you do not get them. When I feel disappointed in God because I don’t have healing or a job or a spouse, it is because at that moment I am desiring the gift over the giver. It is because my faith is weak. It is because I am not viewing Jesus as all satisfying, I am not content in Him. So let’s dive into the Word of God, and pray not only for these things, but for a deeper knowledge of Himself. Ask that he would strengthen our faith in spite of our afflictions. He is our Good. And remember that even though Meagan being sick and my being tired is light compared to your affliction…Do not lose heart, your affliction is momentary and light as well:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
God is good. Seek him. You will lack no good thing if you do.