A firm billed hat lightly dusted with farm debris sat on my grandpa's desk. The words in bold covered the front of the hat, "GOD IS GOOD" My grandpa wore that hat a handful of times to my memory, and he always accompanied wearing it with a story. He would tell of a baseball chant he witnessed one night at a summer game where a woman shouted, "God is good!" and another shouted in response, "Alllllllll the time!" They would go back and forth with more emphasis as they chanted. My grandpa would repeat the chant a few times and chuckle to himself, clearly reveling in the memory. Whenever my grandmother was around during these stories, she'd listen like she'd heard it for the first time, and she'd confidently add in, "Well, He is."
When we hear that God is good, we may be so familiar with the word "good" that we don't understand its true meaning. When we look to the pages of the Bible, "good" actually means holy, pure, and righteous. God is perfectly good (Mark 10:18). God is the beginning of good, and all that good is. He is perfectly righteous in all of His ways. He is incapable of sin and cannot even be in the presence of wickedness. Not only is He good in the sense that He is without moral flaw, but His goodness encompasses His delight and love for us. He is good-natured, bending toward us in kindness and generosity. He desires good for us, and He will work all things in accordance with His will for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
But the Bible also tells us that goodness does not originate in humanity. In fact, because of sin, humanity is not inclined toward good. We are inclined toward sin, and we place our own interests over the commands of God. Even with good intentions and good behavior, there is no man who is inherently good on their own (Romans 3:10-12). We need help from a source outside of ourselves. In light of His goodness, God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to save us from our sins. Our sin separates us from God, but through salvation in Jesus Christ, our sin is nailed to the cross, and we are gifted the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness of Christ gives us access to a relationship with God both now and forever. Not only that, we are given the Holy Spirit as a promise of that eternal relationship, to cultivate good fruit in us and to make us look more and more like Jesus as we continue to live in this world. Even when we do not desire to do good, the Holy Spirit helps direct our desires toward godliness. The Spirit calls to mind the truth of God's Word and helps us delight in walking in obedience. Though we are not good on our own, with God's help, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of goodness in our lives.
Because we are not naturally prone toward goodness, we can treat God like He is like us. We can assume that God is not always good or that His goodness is dependent on our goodness. We can attribute His goodness to things that are happening to us. This is why when challenging circumstances come our way, we might doubt His goodness. We might question His care for us when our desires don't seem to align with His. We might question how He could be good if He would allow horrible things to happen. We might wonder if God is withholding His goodness from us because of something we've done. When death, loss, grief, pain, and the like come our way, Satan would love for us to believe that a good God would not let these things happen. But even amid the most unthinkable situations and heartbreaking moments, God's attribute of goodness remains.
God's goodness is not dependent on circumstances. His goodness is not dependent on our behavior. His goodness is not dependent on anything other than His perfect and holy nature. This will be challenging for us to wrap our minds around in the middle of trial and tragedy. God knows this and brings us truth when our feelings seem to overwhelm us. God reminds us in His Word that He is good (Psalm 119), and He is incapable of being anything that isn't good. He reminds us that no good thing does He withhold from His people (Psalm 84:11). He did not even spare His own Son but graciously gives us everything we need.
The truth that God is good when life is hard is a beacon of hope on our darkest days. He is and always will be good. He will always take care of us people. Even if it doesn't happen in the ways we might want Him to or imagine He should. His plans and purposes will never be thwarted. God sees all and knows all, and in His grand scope of knowledge and understanding, He accomplishes only good.
Knowing that God is good does not mean our questions will disappear. It does not mean we will be perfectly content with our circumstances. It does not mean the pain and sadness of hardship will not feel very real. But it means we have hope to hold fast to beyond what we face right now. It means we can cling to the promise of better things to come in God's kingdom. It means we can rest in the assurance that one day all the bad things of this world will disappear, and we will see in full the glory of God's goodness when Christ returns. It means that God, in His goodness, will draw near to comfort us and sustain us until that day. May our hearts be permeated with the truth we so desperately need as we walk through life in this world: God is good... all the time.