After coming to grips with the fact that there is a God and that He is alive, I believe the next basic question we all must answer for ourselves is, “Is God good?”
We are indoctrinated with this from childhood. I just taught my three year old the song, “God is good to me! God is good to me! He holds my hand, He helps me stand, God is good to me.” As teens, I remember beginning youth group with the chant, “God is good!” “All the time!” “All the time?” “God is good!”
But, at some point during life, reality strikes. Hurt happens. Pain happens. Death happens. Life does not go as we planned, dreamed, imagined, or hoped it would. We say goodbyes too soon. We lose friends, spouses, children in horrible, untimely ways. We live in a world riddled with cancer, disease, pain, and hate. Our world is a strangling place to live. The idea that “humanity is basically good” is completely false; we are inherently evil and that is evidenced no matter where we go on planet Earth.
If you haven’t already, you will soon be smacked in the face with the question, “Is God Good?”
One of the most fundamental of questions, yet we refuse to analyze it. We just accept that either yes, He is good, or no, He is not. The answer to this question defines your faith in God, for if He is good, then He can be all of His other attributes – loving, kind, long-suffering, gentle, forgiving, etc. However, if He is not good, then He simply cannot be any of what the Bible touts that He is.
Is. God. Good?
This week, I poured over a new novel. I discovered an author a year ago who’s been on the scene for a while: Joel C. Rosenberg. My sister introduced me to his novels on Iran, which I couldn’t put down. I finished “Damascus Countdown” on my Kindle just recently and an advertisement came up for his newest work: “The Auschwitz Escape.” I’ll just be honest: I’m cheap. I couldn’t afford it on my Kindle just yet, so I reserved it at the library. Being #6 on a waiting list for a book not even in the library system yet, I figured I’d have to wait a while! But, I was pleasantly surprised that only a few weeks went by before I got the email that it was my turn for this new book.
I got it Tuesday. I finished it on Sunday.
I’ve read a lot of stuff on World War 2. I am an avid, shameless fan of Brock and Bodie Thoene and have learned more about World War 2 and Jewish history from their books than any class I’ve taken or history book I have ever picked up. I have read numerous biographies, autobiographies, and historical accounts on all different sides of WW2, yet it never ceases to fascinate me.
I loved how he interwove factual history, timelines, and data while creating a fictional story of intrigue. It was incredibly realistic and read like an action movie that you simply could not stop watching. Or… reading.
A few chapters in, though, I began to start thinking to myself, “Is God good?” Mr. Rosenberg goes into substantial detail when it comes to some of the atrocities that occurred in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Germany, and Europe during this time of history. It is not pretty. In fact, it’s downright appalling to read and imagine, especially when you recognize that it is history, not fiction, that he’s really recounting.
You cannot read an account like this and not wonder how God could let this happen – to His people! These were not just arbitrary individuals – they were God’s chosen people! How could He “stand by” and let this happen? How can a “good God” let so many of His people die such horrific deaths? Why did He not step in, rend the universe, enter time, and rescue them if He loved them so much? Why did He allow children to be thrown into gas chambers, men to be experimented on alive, and women to be gang-raped?
Is God good?
I thought maybe this was just the way my mind was going with the book, but somewhere towards the middle, this question began to be addressed. The main character struggles with the concept of there even being a God, much less a good God. Mr. Rosenberg lays it out so realistically, though, that you don’t feel like it’s a stretch or made-up fiction. It’s a real question that was addressed in a very real manner at a time when the answer was pivotal to humanity.
I don’t believe the answer to this question can be taken lightly. In a way, it is this basic concept that my preschooler can grasp, yet it resonates much deeper than that.
God is not good the way we measure goodness. God is outside of our time, space, and knowledge; He does not answer to us and our way of doing things. He sees the entire picture, not just the moment. God promised He would spare a remnant of His people throughout time – and He has kept that promise. Though we look at the heinous acts of the Holocaust and wonder where God was- God stands above us, pointing to His fingerprints and footprints throughout the entire episode.
Ultimately, did evil win? Absolutely not. Hands-down, evil did not win. Evil didn’t even come close to wiping out His people or destroying the human race. They tried to destroy any trace of God and His people and all they did was make His name resound stronger and louder than ever before. Look at Corrie ten Boom: after surviving a death camp, she dedicated the rest of her life to rehabilitating Nazis. Through simply her testimony of forgiveness, an untold number of people came to Christ who otherwise may never have heard His Gospel.
Is God good?
I can’t answer that question for you. I can just say that for me, deep in my heart of hearts, I can say that yes – YES, He is good.
He may not work the way I want Him to, but that does not make Him not good. That just makes me not God.
“God is good to me! God is good to me! Although I’m small, He hears my call. God is good to me.”