When You Doubt God’s Goodness

Bill Thrasher
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In spite of God being good, many people reject or doubt this goodness. They doubt God despite His many demonstrations of goodness mentioned earlier. Yet the Scriptures warn that when people despise God’s kindness and patience, they store up God’s wrath for themselves, which He will display at the final judgment.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:4–5)

God gets no pleasure in the death of the wicked but rather rejoices in their repentance (Ezekiel 33:11). He yearns for man to escape His judgment. He is slow to wrath, warns before He judges, and also provides a way to escape His judgment. And, as mentioned earlier, out of His goodness God gives the gift of His Son. God sent His Son into the world not to judge it but that we could be delivered from His judgment (John 3:17).

The underlying motivation of all sin is a doubt in God’s goodness. In other words we would never sin unless we thought something good would come out of it. The Serpent deceived Eve in this way and uses his deceitful lies against men and women every day (see Genesis 3:1–6).

If sin withholds good from us, why would we sin (see Jeremiah 5:25)? It is because we are deceived. For this reason we need daily exhortation not to be hardened in this deceit (Hebrews 3:13).

Some look at the evil, pain, and suffering in the world and then look at God and blame Him and doubt His goodness. We need to first look at God and marvel at how man could rebel against His goodness and mess up the paradise that He created. Others fixate upon a certain expectation or dream that they desire. In their minds is this thought: God, if You are truly good, this is what You should do.

Complaining About His Goodness

Temptation is a common experience to all of God’s people (1 Corinthians 10:13), and one common temptation is to grumble and complain (1 Corinthians 10:10–11). None of us is above it. When we grumble and complain, we disobey the kind command of Philippians 2:14–15 and invite God’s loving discipline (cf. Numbers 11:1) as well as lose our witness to the world. Thus Paul encourages us to “do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14–15).

When we complain, we have lost sight of God’s past goodness.

The answer is not to curb only our outward grumbling and stuff it inside of ourselves. The answer is to seek God and work out the matter with Him.

When we complain, we have lost sight of God’s past goodness, are not discerning His present goodness, and are not anticipating His future goodness. As we have stated, we need to recall that we have earned God’s judgment. Anything I ever received in life other than His judgment is due to the grace of God! We need to also discern that God is sovereign and can overrule the most horrible events to bring about our ultimate good (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28–29).

When We Grow Weary in Doing Good Things

Our good God desires us to do good to all men (Galatians 6:10). However, we will all be tempted to “lose heart in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). People will be tempted to think that “it is vain to serve God” (Malachi 3:14). Our wonderful Savior has been tempted in all ways and promises to come to our aid when we are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).

Note how Isaiah prophesied of this temptation that the Messiah would experience: “He said to Me, ‘You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory.’ But I said, ‘I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity.’” (Isaiah 49:3-4a)

How did the Lord answer this temptation? Despite feeling He had labored in vain, the Messiah rested in two truths: “Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord, and My reward with My God” (Isaiah 49:4b).

It is always worth it to serve the Lord. Our toil is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). It is only a matter of time and the reward will come (Galatians 6:9). Even first-century slaves received this promise. “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free” (Ephesians 6:7–8).

The Christian life is a battle, but it is a “good fight.” We are to confess our Lord, but it is a “good confession.” The words that the Spirit will inspire us to speak are “good” words (Ephesians 4:29). The works that He has preordained that we walk in are “good” works that are to spring from a “good” conscience (1 Timothy 1:5). Our God is good—all the time. We are in a battle, but depend on Him to renew your spirit and keep you going.

Carrying Our Burdens Rather than Relying on His Goodness

Sometimes we leave His goodness because of burdens we choose to bear without His help. Our good God desires to help us. The command to cast our cares on the Lord is based on a truth that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). When you doubt His goodness and care for you, you tend to bear your burdens on your own shoulders. In fact, the more something means to you, the greater the urge to try to control the situation.

The folly is that we trust our own self-interest and ability more than our good and omnipotent God. He alone is able to take care of what we commit to Him (2 Timothy 1:12). He alone can give us the promise to never ultimately disappoint us (Romans 10:11).

The underlying motivation of all sin is a doubt in God’s goodness.

When Abraham offered up Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22), James tells us that his faith was perfected (James 2:22). The idea of “perfected” is being brought to a divinely appointed goal. God’s goal for Abraham—as it is for us—was to be trained to trust Him with the most precious thing in his life. Will you trust God with your Isaac? Will you place it in His hands at this moment? Will you put your finger on 1 Peter 5:7 and tell God that you want to fully obey it?

God’s commandments are for our good (see Deuteronomy 10:13). His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). When He tells us to do something, He is pointing out the best path of life for us. When He forbids us from doing something, He is seeking to protect us from harm and that which would not be best for us. God desires that you have an implicit trust in His goodness that is behind His kind words. He is waiting for you to discover this for yourself and “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). A heart that digests, remembers, and acts on God’s words so as to bear fruit is called a “good heart” (Luke 8:15).

As God looks at mankind, He sees no one who does good (Romans 3:12). In His goodness, He offers the good gift of His Son, and with this gift comes everything we will ever need (Romans 8:32). If you understand this, you can agree with the psalmists, who say, “I have no good besides You” (Psalm 16:2), and, “The nearness of God is my good” (Psalm 73:28). A failure to agree with these statements is to be blind to the truth that “every good thing given and every perfect gift” comes from God (James 1:17).

I have made it a practice to review every day and briefly journal some of the good gifts that come from God’s good hand. Once a week I look back on the week’s blessing and on the blessing of this same week in past years. I recommend you do the same. When we are able to recognize God’s gifts, we are able to rejoice in the good that God has given us (Deuteronomy 26:11). Do this and you will thank (Psalm 106:1) and praise (Psalm 147:12) your good God. And surely the Giver of every good and perfect gift is worthy of our gratitude and praise.

For Further Reading:

God as He Wants You to Know Him

by Bill Thrasher

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