Understanding our circumstances through God's goodness

At LifeGroup this week, a friend of mine said something rather profound:

We often try to understand God’s goodness through our circumstances when we ought to be understanding our circumstances through God’s goodness.
— Hope T.

It's not a surprise to us when we hear people claiming, "if your God was as good as you say, He wouldn't have let my dad die" or "if God is good, why is there so much poverty in the world?" Of course, here are the facts:

  1. God chose to give us free will, allowing us to choose or not choose to follow Him.
  2. As a result of the original sin, the world now persists in a fallen state.
  3. God's will continues to be fulfilled, but often, not in the way He intended because of our sin getting in the way.
  4. God, in his omnipotence and omniscience is able to use the bad along with the good so that His perfect purpose is not thwarted by our ignorant screw ups.

Those are the facts. But even so, it's easy to slip into this mindset. We see terrible things around us and wonder, "how can God redeem this?" Yet, He does. That's the beautiful part.

When, in Romans 8:28, Paul says "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good," he's not making the ridiculous claim that all things will be good. He's saying all things, including the bad, God works for together for good. He's reframing how we perceive all circumstances no matter how good or bad they might seem.

When we handle this passage, it's tempting to confront pain and suffering with a pseudo-optimistic attitude, proclaiming, "Don't be sad, be happy! God will use this for good!" But if you've ever been the recipient of such condolences, you know that this can only go so far. After all, we have the capacity for emotion! Pain is a natural response to bad things - we're allowed to cry and get angry. Jesus did! What we're not allowed to do - but many make the mistake of doing - is blaming God, either for the pain, or for not fixing it.

The answer to all of this, is starting off our day by buttoning our top button.

Last Sunday, our pastor gave the illustration of buttoning up your shirt in the morning. If we start with the top button, we won't misalign the buttons that follow and end up with a caddywhompus shirt. The top button acts as a baseline off which everything else builds.

Our top button is this: God is good.

If we start each day with this truth, everything else is put into perspective. When joy is abundant, God is good. When catastrophe comes, God is good.

So button your top button and understand your circumstances through God's goodness.