When Bad Things Happen To God’s People

Psalm 119:71 – “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

It is the proposition of God’s goodness that gives perspective to the prose and poetry of this psalmist. In proximity to the text the psalmist pronounces a profound philosophy of life. In verse 68 of Psalm 119 the psalmist gives shape, structure and syntax to a spiritual syllogism. He says to God about God, “Thou art good, and doest good..”.

The psalmist offers two truisms for the building of his syllogism. 1) God is good. 2) God does good. The syllogism is now set. If God is good and If God does good, then God always has something good that He wants to do. The psalmist provides for all of us a prism through which we can peruse our own personal pain. He sees his afflictions through the goodness of God. “Thou art good, and doest good”.

God is good and whatever He does is good. Whatever happens to this psalmist he has steadied himself in the grandeur of God’s goodness. And if our lives are connected to God then we must see all of life through the goodness of God. If God is good and does good, then we must find God  and the good that He is doing in every “bad” situation. We have to have the courage to look out beyond our present pain and to gaze upon the glory of  God’s goodness

The psalmist sets his theology within the tapestry of this poetry. He prays the hope of every human heart; he cites the great guarantee we all so desperately need; he gives voice to what every one of us wants to believe, and has to believe – even though things are bad, God is still good!  

From the ancient Saxons we get the original meaning for the English word ‘God’. God is translated as  “The Good”.  God is “The Good”. You can’t have good until you first have God. God is goodness. There is no goodness without God. If you have some goodness without the goodness of God , your goodness is good for nothing!

God is all good. When He created the heavens and the earth he closed everyday  with this assessment, “And God saw it was good”. Six times God stood at the end of a day and said, “That was good”. The day was not over until God said, Good!”  Whatever you’re going through, God is going to bring you out of it with some good. When you come out of this you’ll be stronger, wiser and better!

Everyday in the week of the Creation started in the evening and ended in the morning. Six times in Genesis chapter 1 we read, “And the evening and the morning were the (….) day.” So God started every day in the evening and closed everyday with the morning. That means – God has never seen a day that ended in the dark. 

The reason the psalmist can say, “This is the day that the Lord has made ; let us rejoice and be glad in it” is because the psalmist knew that the Lord won’t let your days close out in the dark. Every day God makes is going to end in the morning. God won’t let you stay in pain.“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.

Whatever God is doing in the dark is designed to develop you. Prior to the digital age photographers had to develop their pictures in a “dark room”. It was called a “dark room” because it was a dark room. It was designed to keep the light out so the pictures could properly develop. Now the dark room is not where they displayed  their pictures; the dark room is where they developed their pictures.

God will take you to some dark places and put you in some dark rooms so He can develop you. A.W. Tozer says, “It is doubtful that God will use anybody greatly who He has not first hurt deeply.” Kahlil Gibran says, “Sorrow is the spade that digs the well of joy and the deeper sorrow carves into you the more joy you can contain”. The great cellist Gaspar Cassado was often heard reminding his orchestra students, “You can’t play great music unless your heart has been broken”.

The goodness of God does not prevent our pain, it processes our pain. The goodness of God doesn’t restrict our pain, it redeems our pain. The goodness of God turns your pain into power.

God’s goodness has the power to transforms us. His goodness  is designed to deliver us from the places our minds can take us.  Your mind can take you some places and keep you so long you can lose your mind on the trip.  Pain and betrayal, loss and hurt, anguish and grief, abandonment and abuse can all take your mind to places where your mind can’t survive. Your mind wasn’t made to carry the weight of worry. Your mind is not supposed to be full of fear. Your mind is not supposed to be stressed-out and anxious. Your mind was not made to be a deposit for dope and depression.

So, if you don’t want to lose your mind, the goodness of God has to change your mind. The Apostle Paul says, “It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4). The  goodness of God is not only a game changer, it is a mind-changer. The word “repent” means to change your mind. It literally means “to think again”. It is the idea of returning your mind to where your mind should have never left. When you repent you are placing your thoughts on the goodness of God. I know what it looks like, but God is still good!  I know what people are saying, but God is still good!

Repentance is the power to get your mind back! Don’t leave your mind behind. I’m coming out of this with my mind! I’m not leaving this affliction without my mind. I’m going to need my mind for the next great thought God is going to give me.

* Once your mind comes back to God you can just think yourself happy. When your mind is back with God you are always one thought away from a praise. God never intended for things to determine your praise and worship. God is not giving away cars and houses, raises and promotions, money and salaries so you can have something to shout about. God never wants your praise coming from a thing because if you lose your things you will lose your praise. But if you can get a thought.

God wants your praise coming from a thought. You are one thought away from a thought. When you think of where you could be; when you think about how low you have been; when you think about how the Lord has raised you up. When I think about the goodness of Jesus…

The reason the goodness of God can change your mind is because the goodness of God can blow your mind. Psalm 145 says that “The Lord is good to all”. That should blow your mind! If the Lord is good to all it means that there is only one thing I have to do to qualify for the goodness of God, – I have to be one of the “all”. The Lord is good to all.

The Lord is good to people who aren’t good to themselves. The Lord is good to people who aren’t good to you. The Lord is good to people who aren’t good to anybody. The Lord is good to people who are good  for a while. The Lord is good to people who are no good. The Lord is good to people who are good for nothing. The Lord is good to all. The goodness of God will give you your mind back.

The psalmist awakens us from the comforts of our suburban blessings and forces upon us a forgotten perspective on the goodness of God. The goodness of God can be painful. The psalmist gives voice and pathos to those of us struggling in our minds with the goodness of God and the pain of our own lives. We wonder if God is so good, then why do I have to hurt like this? If God is so good, why is it that my life seems so bad? If God is so good, then why do bad things happen to God’s people.

The psalmist does not toss out an answer, rather he offers us this clarion claim –  God is always good for your good. Whatever God has to take you through to get you to your good He will take you through it. “It was good that I was afflicted”. The afflictions that you have are good. Your good is so great that every thing you called “bad” God was calling it good. ” And we know all things work together for the good..”

* You call it affliction. God calls it preparation. You call it wounded. God calls it anointed. You call it weakness. God calls it power. You call it a battle. God calls it a victory. You call it pain. God calls it purpose. You call it misery. God calls it ministry. You call it a set back. God calls it a set up. You call it a rap sheet and a record. God calls it a testimony. You call it a break down. God calls it a break through. You call it a mess. God calls it a message. You call it your past. God calls it His grace. They call it lucky. God calls it favor! God has inspected your pain and He calls it “Good!”.

Let the psalmist show us how to be thankful even when life is painful. The psalmist won’t complain because his affliction gave him a new attention. When pain hits our bodies we give attention to the pain. The pain demands our attention. Pain tells us when we need to give attention to a certain part of the body. Pain can also tell us when to give attention to certain parts of our lives.

In verse 67 the psalmist says, Before I was afflicted, I went astray”. “Astray” tells us that he was being distracted by life and was being moved away from God. He didn’t escape from God; he strayed. He didn’t abandon God; he strayed. He didn’t run away from God; he strayed.  When any soul leaves God it’s never a blow out, it’s always a slow leak.

The psalmist admits that he needed a new attention. “ I went astray”.  His pain brought him back into focus. And if God lets your pain refocus your faith, thank God for the pain. God is so good He will let your pain push you back to prayer. He will use your pain to bring you back to where you belong. God is so good, He will let your pain drive you back to church. God is so good He will let your pain get you away from people that don’t mean you any good. God is so good He will let your pain bring you back to your mind!

The story is told about a little boy who built himself a boat and took it down to a stream of water to test it. While it was in the water a current took the boat away from the boy while he stood on the banks of the stream. The little boy quickly started picking up rocks and throwing rocks over the boat. He started tossing rocks on the other side of the boat. Every time he tossed a rock it created a ripple. Every ripple brought that boat a little closer to the boy until he just reached out and picked the boat up out of the water. God is not throwing rocks at you. God  maybe throwing rocks over your life to get you a little closer to Him.

He won’t complain about the pain because his affliction gave him a (new affirmation) We are so quick to judge what is good or bad based on how it makes us feel. The psalmist does not make a conclusion of his situation based on emotions. He comes to this faith affirmation, “It was good for me”.

It doesn’t have to be good to you in order for it to be good for you. God personalizes our pains to fit our purposes. What you go through would not have been good for me. What I went through was good for me because it was a tailored-made just for me.

* If you want to take power away from the pains of your past I dare you to say, “It was good for me!”  I didn’t want it; I didn’t like it; I didn’t ask for it; I didn’t think it was fair; I didn’t see how; I didn’t know when; I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I can say, “It was good for me!” Write your enemies a “Thank You” card and tell them, “It was good for me”. Joseph told his low down brothers, “You thought it for evil, but God meant it for good!”

The psalmist won’t complain about the pain because it gave him a (new appreciation) . In verse 70 the psalmist says, “I delight in thy law”. In verse 72 he says, The law of thy mouth is better than thousands of gold and silver”. He thanks God for the affliction that gave him a new appreciation for the Word of God. “It was good that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes”. “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now have I kept thy Word”.

The psalmist discovered the power of God’s Word in the middle of his pain. What you need to get through this affliction is a word from God.  For every pain God has a promise. For every wound God has a word.

If you have an affliction, God has a word: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers out of them all”.

If you feel lost, God has a word: “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”.

If your heart is heavy, God has a word: “Let not your heart be troubled, Believe in God, believe also in Me”.

If your mind is worried, God has a word: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your mind and heart in Christ Jesus.”

If your body is in pain, God has a word: “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace upon Him and by His stripes we are healed.”

If you feel afraid, God has word: “The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear. The Lord is the strength of my life of whom shall I be afraid.”

If you feel alone and lonely, God has a word: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff comfort me”.

If you don’t know what to do next, God has a word: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding, In all thy ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths”.

If you’re broke or bankrupt, God has a word: “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

If you have some haters hanging around: God has a word: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”

If you don’t have enough, God has a word: “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think”.

If you feel down and out, God has word: “Lift up your heads and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors and the King of glory shall come in”.

If you feel like the devil robbed you: God has a word: “The thief cometh to kill, steal and destroy, but I came that you might have life and that more abundantly.”

If you feel like you’ve been waiting for a long time, God has a word: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint.”

If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired: God has a word:
“ Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

The goodness of God is where our faith begins. The gospel is “God’s good news”. God transcribed His Goodness in the language of human events. In Jesus the gospel is the good news about the goodness of God. The gospel announces that God is exceedingly, extravagantly and existentially good. God ‘s goodness is more goodness than you’ll ever need. God. Jesus is God’s goodness guarantee.

Under the purple canopy of a cool Palestinian night, while shepherds slept in sweet repose, angels in antiphonal song announced Him saying, “Peace on earth and goodwill toward all men”. When men heard Him teach they called Him, “Good Master”. The report of His ministry was “He went about doing good”.

The life of Jesus is a gospel of goodness! Goodness was crucified. Goodness was sacrificed for sin. Goodness endured pain and betrayal. Goodness was buried in a cold grave but goodness could not be conquered. God raised Goodness from the grave! This is the gospel. This is goodness!

God is a good God, Yes, He is

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