At the beginning of last year, I wrote a song as a reflection on all the things God had done in my life the year before. The refrain went: “Oh, the goodness of the Lord is before my eyes, all my life.”
I was reminded of it this last Sunday.
The sermon at church was on the book of Job, and afterwards, my six-year-old niece, Abby, asked me what the pastor had been talking about. Our conversation went like this:
“Well,” I said, “Job was a man in the bible and all his possessions were destroyed, and his kids were killed, and he got very sick.”
“And Satan did that?”
“Yeah, God gave Satan free reign with everything Job had. But Job still kept his faith in God. Which is why we still read his story today, and will probably keep telling it for all of eternity.”
“And his wife didn’t believe in God?” she asked.
“No, she did believe in God. But when she saw all of the bad things that had happened to them she couldn’t believe that God was good anymore, so she told Job it would be better for him to die than to go on living.”
“And how was God good to Job?”
” . . . ”
It was a long silence, but I did end up giving Abby an answer. What I wonder is, what’s your answer to that question? It’s an important one. Is God still good when His goodness is not visible?
And how is He good?
It’s not just the question of a six-year-old, or Job’s wife, it’s the question of our world. Look at everything that’s happening, how can you still believe there is a good God?
The goodness, kindness, and gentleness of God have marked my life in extraordinary ways, but the hardest lesson of my spiritual life was having to choose Him when His goodness was nowhere to be seen.
Which is why it’s also a profoundly personal question. Moses doesn’t exactly describe what he saw on the mountain when God “caused His goodness to pass before him.” Maybe we all would have seen or experienced something different. And maybe we all do experience the goodness of God in unique ways, which is why it’s so crucial we tell, or sing (if you’re me and sing everything), or write about it — like David did in Psalm 23:6.
In the last chapters of Job, God has a conversation with Job. I consider it to be one of the most beautiful portions of all of scripture, because in it God describes Himself — He literally goes on and on about Himself. But the key is not just that God answered, not even that God defended Job, but that He stayed with him, and heard everything both Job and his friends had to say. He never left him for a moment.
What I told Abby was that the goodness of God to Job was His relationship with him.
But that’s my answer because that’s my story as well. In this video the preacher and writer, Bob Sorge, gives his interpretation of God’s goodness to Job, based on his own testimony and experience. It’s well worth a watch: