Is God Good?

Take a moment and think about what a really good day would look like for you. What does your morning look like? As the day progresses, what do you see yourself doing in your ultimate good day? What are the characteristics of a great day for you?

My ultimate good day starts with having had a good rest, then starting off with coffee, spending time in the word, and engaging with the Lord.

Then I have my favorite breakfast: Two slices of peanut butter toast, four slices of ham, with eggs and spinach. But my eggs and spinach are like an open-face sandwich. Some people think it’s disgusting, but I think it’s the best thing in the world.

After breakfast, I hit the gym and have a good workout. Then maybe I’m playing some games or reading a book. That afternoon Jenna and I have some social time, maybe playing pickleball with friends or hosting a game night. Then the day wraps up on the couch watching a movie or a favorite show.

For me, it’s a “Charles is living his best life” kind of day. You might say it’s trash. Maybe you want to sleep in more, or you’re getting out of town, spending time in nature or with friends. It might involve knocking out that ever-expanding to-do list.

Defining goodness


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We may have different ideas of what a good day looks like because we have different perceptions of what is good. We have different preferences. My favorite breakfast sandwich might sound atrocious to you. Things you enjoy may seem boring to someone else.

We each have different perceptions and expectations. Those differences create differing ideas about the answer of the question, “is God good?”

That’s a foundational question of faith that many people wrestle with, whether they’re new in the faith, not totally sure yet if they believe, or if they’ve been in the faith for awhile.

Is God really good?

It’s a question that often comes in times of pain. If God is good, why do bad things happen around us? On top of that, our different perceptions of what good is can influence our answer. We may all have a different idea of what it means for God to be good.

Today we’ll look to the scripture to try to get a common standard of goodness. We’ll look for a measuring stick that has us on the same page regarding this question.

The Goodness of God in Psalm 145

Psalm 145 can give us a biblical understanding of God’s goodness. Today, we might not answer every nuance of the question, but I believe we can get a fuller understanding of His goodness. This Psalm is a poster child of God’s goodness, where David expresses his emotions about it. We see several ways in which God is good.

God is good in his identity

I will exalt you, my God and king, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day. Yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise. No one can measure his greatness.

Psalm 145:1-3 NLT

David uses the word we don’t often use: “exalt.” It means to have a deep respect for, or to hold in high regard.

When he says “great is the Lord,” it reminds me of the debate over whether Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. We could argue the point until the cows come home, you can’t reasonably argue that he wasn’t great. We have statistics that can measure his greatness as a player.

David is saying that God’s greatness is beyond measure. It is something that cannot be contained.

God is good in his actions

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts. Let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue. I will proclaim your greatness.

Psalm 145:4-6 NLT

When David looks back over his life, he sees evidence of God’s goodness.

There’s an advantage of being in the faith for awhile, or of having older people in the community. We can say, “Let me tell you about the goodness of God. We can tell of our experiences, how God has healed, how he’s shown up in our lives, provided comfort, and offered provisions. “Let me tell how God made a way when there was no way.”

David speaks of the times that God has been good to him. He calls for generations to tell one another of their experience of the goodness of God.

God is good in his character.

Everyone will share this story of your wonderful goodness. They will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.

Psalm 145:7-9 NLT

David says that God is so good, his people share stories of that goodness. He identifies that while we live in an angry world, God is slow to anger. Then he points out that God’s love is unfailing, that he showers compassion on all of his creation.

Other scriptures speak of the goodness of God:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.

Nahum 1:7

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down like the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

It’s a theme that can be found throughout the scriptures, that God is good.

Defining God’s goodness through our individual perspectives

How do we understand good? We typically define it as being morally excellent or right. It’s a state or quality of something being good.

We saw in the Psalm that God is good in his identity, actions, and his character or nature. We often see his goodness in our own stories.

Even then, we can wrestle with that question. We can still wonder if he’s good. That tension often comes from our differing perceptions of goodness.

When we struggle with that question, it’s fair to ask whether this is more about our expectations of God than it is his character. Does the question say more about us than it does about him?

We’ll look at some of the perspectives through which we evaluate God’s goodness.

The perspective of self

One might define goodness in terms of how something or someone impacts them.

You are good as long as you make me happy. You are good if I’m content. That perspective has less to do with a characteristic of goodness and more to do with subjective experience.

Think of a pup that loves belly rubs. You can do everything you should do for it like feed it, give it water and shelter, take it to the vet, take it on walks. The dog doesn’t care about any of that. But rub it’s belly and it’s your friend forever.

We’re often the same way with God. His character, unfailing love, or his deeds mean nothing. All that matters is what he does for us.

That can indicate that our perception of his goodness is a selfish one. It doesn’t matter if he’s truly good. It’s all about if he’s made us happy. Our opinion of his goodness has more to do with us than with him.

The perspective of time

We often evaluate life in a short-term reference. In other words, if you please me now, at this moment, you are good. This perspective leaves out what was done in the past or will be done in the future. It’s all about whether you please me now.

I worked as an associate minister in children’s ministry where we had Wednesday night programming. We had games, candy, and great programs. But after the games and candy, some kids wanted nothing to do with the programming. They preferred to wander around unsupervised, doing their own thing. In their opinion, I was a villain because I didn’t do what they wanted.

They weren’t thinking about long-term things like protection, how the gospel would impact them. None of that mattered. All they cared about was what they wanted to do in that moment of time.

We often measure God’s goodness by immediate benefits, rather than the big picture. We judge his goodness by what he’s doing right now. That short-sighted view misses all the things he’s done for us in the past or that he will do in the future. We limit God with this perspective.

The perspective of niceness

We may think of God’s goodness in terms of niceness. If God doesn’t say or do anything that offends me, and plays by the rules, I might agree that he’s good.

We’d rather avoid truthfulness, constructive criticism, and correction. We prefer that he’s nice and tolerant and expect him to submit to our preferences.

Ultimately, this view negates God’s role as God. Instead, we elevate ourselves to his seat because we think we know more about what he should do or how he should use his authority.

Too often, our perspectives on God’s goodness are based on our subjective opinions and preferences. Those preferences may cause us to miss the actual basis of goodness: His character.

God’s goodness is rooted in who He is.

The things in scripture that reveal God’s goodness involve more than preference and subjective interpretation. God’s goodness is rooted in his character. It’s based on who he is, not what we want.

God’s goodness is seen in his actions. It’s seen in what he did on the cross. We see it in how all of creation works together for a purpose. We see it in his desire to have us know him, and his passion to free us from sin.

It’s not about what he does for us, but on who he is as God. His goodness is rooted in something much deeper than personality, there’s a consistency to his goodness.

Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” God’s goodness is rooted in his unchanging character. He is good and he is consistent, which means that God is good in the feast and in the famine.

God is good in the feast and the famine

We already know God is good in the feast. When things are good, stocks are performing well, we get that promotion at work, and everything goes well with our family. That’s when we feel like God is good.

We know the famine as well. Some of us may be experiencing famine right now. Those are the times when life isn’t going well. We’re living without or dealing with hardship.

It’s in those difficult times when we wonder if God is good. If he is good, why do we have pain? Why is there suffering? Why is there famine? It’s a question that comes from hardship and pain.

We could address this a number of ways. We could talk about the fall of man and how sin entered the world, how that sin is communal and affects those around us. There’s also the spiritual enemy who is bent on creating chaos and disorder.

Even with those answers, the most important thing is this: EVen though there’s a famine, the goodness of God remains.

God’s goodness works through the famine

God’s goodness is still there in the pain and the heartache. We see this in Romans 8:

We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 NIV

Leading up to this passage, Paul discussed how life can be painful. God is good in the famine. But more than that, he works all things together for the good of those who love him. When you’ve given yourself to him, God works to bring good out of the famine.

I’ve experienced this in my struggles with depression. I remember one time laying on the floor refusing to get up because life was too much for me. I was on the phone with my dad weeping, asking if I’d ever be happy again.

Was there anything good about that time of famine? No, nothing was good about that. But I can tell you about the good that came from it.

It brought me to counseling and therapy. I learned healthier ways to deal with things. It helped me face not only the current issues but other things that were in my closet.

I can tell you about the empathy and patience I have now for others who experience depression. I wouldn’t have had those before. I can tell you what it did for my relationship with my dad, where I learned how I can turn to him for everything, not just the fun things.

Most importantly, I can tell you how it drew me closer to the Father. It brought me closer to God than the feast ever could have.

There was nothing good about my depression, but a good God brought all this together for my good. We know there’s pain, suffering, heartache, hardship, evil, and sin. But there is also a good God who sees it and works to bring good things from it.

God’s goodness is seen in Jesus

When we’re in the famine, it’s harder to see and be satisfied with God’s goodness. But the truth remains that he IS good.

We get a better picture of God’s goodness by looking at Jesus. God incarnate stepped off the throne to come to our level. Jesus, who was there before all creation, was despised by man. He fed the hungry in the crowds or stopped his work to help a grieving mother. Jesus took time to restore sight to men who were blind, or heal lepers that no one else would come close to. He restored the honor of a sinful woman.

Is God good? Look at Jesus.

We see Jesus hanging on the cross, dying for our sins, bearing the weight of our shame. We see a man without debt pay for our sins so that we can have a relationship with God, both now and in eternity.

Why would God go so far for us? Because he loves us and because he is good.

It’s in his nature. It’s in his character, and in his deeds.

My hope today is that as we see the state of the world, as we see our pain and hardship, that we can see that even though the pain might be great, God is still good. Because, that’s who he is.