God is good. What does that even mean? It’s a phrase I associate with old preachers and choruses of people saying, “All the time!” It’s also the single most important truth for my own spiritual walk, and it took a year of missional service around the world for me to truly realize what it meant to me.
Three years ago I decided to take a year off of college to go on the World Race, a gap year program for people to experience what it’s like to live and serve as a missionary. We lived in El Salvador, Malawi, and the Philippines for three months each, doing any and all volunteer work you could imagine. We were English teachers, babysitters, preachers, summer camp coordinators, and, most importantly, we were friends. Looking back, it was through my friendships with so many different people that I saw change occur in both my life and those around me.
But there is a lot of pain in this world. It’s not just found in third-world countries or orphanages, but it is here as well. For some reason, the modern world just does a better job of covering it up. I could elaborate on all the suffering I saw in those months. It wouldn’t be anything new. We have all seen the horrors of this world and the terrifying reality of what humanity is capable of. We read about them and hear the tragic statistics on the news, but it broke me seeing those statistics fleshed out right in front of me. In the wake of that brokenness, a hollow question echoed deep in my soul:
How can God be good?
I wish I could say that I don’t still ask myself that. It’s a lifelong question with which to wrestle. But what brought me peace, and still does, is Jesus. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). If Jesus is the full illumination of God’s character, then I trust him. I trust that not fully understanding is perfectly alright and I trust that God understands our doubts and our questions in moments of pain. I trust that He is indeed at work within the brokenness of the world and that there will be a day when things are made right; when the world is fully redeemed and reconciled and justice will be fully realized throughout all of creation.
That triumphant day is what Revelation is all about. It’s a hopeful declaration full of inspired imaginings for a young and persecuted church. And it’s for us too.
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
“Just and true are your ways...all nations will come and worship you.” In other words, God is good, and one day people from all over the world will come and celebrate that together in a community of love. The early church needed to hear that message and so do I. That’s something for which to hope. That’s something to get excited about. That’s a reason to get up in the morning and that is something worth giving my life for.
Jonathan is a student at the University of Arkansas preparing to be an English teacher. He loves to read, go on walks, practice yoga, listen to jazz, and belt the Les Miserables soundtrack in his car.