all. the. time.
RETURN TO YOUR REST, MY SOUL, FOR THE LORD HAS BEEN GOOD TO YOU. -PSLAM 116:7
The Lord has been good to me.
Soooooo good. Beyond good. Unimaginably good. His goodness reaches out to me with each new day. And today, I want to look at Psalm 116 to show you some downright, mind-blowing examples of his goodness to each of us. Last week, I challenged you to pray through Psalm 116. Oh, I hope you did! I hope those ancient words came alive in you as you prayed them back to God. They’re still ringing in my ears, preaching to my soul. And I must say, they brought me to this beautiful place where I could say in all truth, “the Lord has been good to me”. I say it now without hesitancy or qualification. I say it in wonder and faith, believing every word in my bones. I want to take you through just a couple of verses from Psalm 116 in the hopes that you’ll be able to say it too, without reservation, “the Lord has been good to me”.
God is good. Period.
If we want to talk about how God is good to us, we should start by talking about how he is good, period. He’s good to us, because he just cannot not be good. He must be good in his behavior because he is good in his person, goodness itself, the definition of “good”. Jesus says, “no one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19). And our lovely psalm enumerates several specific ways that God is good. Can we just take a quick look at one verse? It’s jammed with goodness! Verse five says, “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” Just, wow. First off, it says that God is gracious, which means it’s in his very nature to give us goodness despite the fact that we actually deserve quite the opposite! He’s also righteous. This means that he’s perfectly good in every way, without any fault. So he gives goodness and he is good. And finally, we see that God is full of compassion. He simply cannot look the other way when we are hurting or needy. He is deeply moved and motivated to act! So, if God is good, does good, and is deeply moved with compassion towards us, I must trust that he will be good to me. Period. Done. There’s no other option.
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God is good because he hears me.
So, how do I experience God’s goodness? One way is by knowing that he hears me. Verse one says, “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice”. Our God is not far away. He is right here, listening. He hears my prayers, and he shows up. And I’m not talking about some rainbow-filled Christian bubble, outside of the pain and trials of this life. No, God has shown himself to be good in the middle of the mess. He’s not just good when I’m on the mountain, but when I’m down on the floor, his goodness reaches me there too. Now, I confess that I regularly ask for easy solutions and empty pleasures. This is not the goodness we’re talking about. He’s no shallow God, giving me bandaids or toys to plug the holes in my heart. No. He is good down deep, giving me peace in my soul and joy in my heart in all circumstances. And he doesn’t just hear me, he answers back. When I feel alone, he whispers kind words through the pages of his book, anchoring my soul. I know he hears me because he talks back.
God is good because he delivers me.
Verse 6 says, “when I was brought low, he saved me.” Time and again, God shows me he’s good and he’s listening because he delivers me. He gives me precisely what I need. Sometimes, it’s a quick answer, a “yes!”, exactly what I hoped for, just what I wanted. But other times, his deliverance takes time. He calls me to patiently trust him. And when his answer is “wait”, I’ve seen his goodness in the slow unraveling of his perfectly timed plan. But sometimes, his answer doesn’t look like what I want at all. I get a hard “no”. In these answers, he’s often teaching me about the differences between needs and wants. He’s showing me his wisdom and a better path. Still harder, is an answer that calls me to hardship, pain, sacrifice, or loss. There are times he’s led me to a place I didn’t want to go. Even then, he always meets me, giving me his own dear presence and other-worldly peace. His deliverance is always sure, just not always in my time or in my ways.
God is good because he gives me life.
Our psalmist says that God “delivered me from death... that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (vv. 8-9). In this instance, God delivered the psalmist from real, physical death. And God often does deliver people from physical trials, even death. And as amazing and even miraculous as it is, such a deliverance is only temporary. None of us escapes death’s eventuality. But even in that lowest point, our psalmist says something beautiful: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” (v. 15). Our God, the God who is good and who does good, looks on the death of his beloved ones and is moved with compassion. But his compassion is not impotent. His goodness isn’t limited by time or lack of power. His boundless goodness stretches down into the grave and delivers us out! This promise of God’s deliverance is sure and lasting. We “will walk before the Lord in the land of the living”, not just in this life, but for all time. God’s goodness is limitless.
He was good.
He is good.
He will be good.
And when these truths sink down, I can say in honesty, “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you!”
How have you seen God's goodness in your life?
What have you learned when God asked you to wait or said no to you?
How does recounting God's goodness give your soul rest?
Thanks for reading,
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