As a teenager, I had a job at Woolworths and used to get there by bus. We lived at a terminus and so the bus was almost empty when I got on. Being unconverted but devout, I used to wonder if God knew which seat on the bus I would choose. I knew the answer to this was YES! But, I got to wondering if I could have chosen a seat that God did not know I would choose…. At the time, I was slightly less sure of this answer but thought it must be NO. Then, would my life have been any different if I had chosen one seat or another? Did God have a different plan for me depending on the seat I was in? (Yes I was always able to think impossible thoughts before breakfast, or at least before 9 o'clock)
Fast forward to July 23rd 1975 in the days before mobile phones. John, coming home from work, picked up a ‘new to us’ car and, all unsuspecting, arrived home to find me very seriously ill at 7 months pregnant. We got to the hospital minutes before I began fitting and Simon and I may well have died.
Fast forward to December 17th 2020. A friend of ours was beginning to worry that her husband was delayed coming home from work. She sadly learned that he had been killed by a careless driver. Writing on Facebook to inform the very wide circle of people who would want to know about it, his lovely eldest daughter said ‘this awful event does not change who God is’ and ‘He is holding us when everything else is falling apart’.
Back track now to a lecture theatre in Putney in 1967 when a young trainee teacher was attending a philosophy lecture and being asked “How do we know if God is good?” The lecturer suggested … “We need to decide what is goodness and then we can answer the question.” Even in my still unsaved but still devout state, I knew it was utter nonsense.
Now consider a Christian song of the late 70s
God is so good (x3) He’s so good to me
Anathema possibly to those who like a song with depth, but let’s look at it this way.
God is so good …… that’s obvious even to some unsaved people
God is so GOOD …. my life experiences with Him prove it.
God is SO good ……my experience of Him teaches me that His nature is all goodness and much more besides.
….oh, and by the way .. He’s so good to me …. And our friend, her daughters and her husband who is now in that home prepared for him in glory.
So, in the new lockdown with the uncertainty about the wisdom of our leaders, the hope of a vaccine and the financial and mental health implications of our current experience, we could ask:-
Does God know about each aspect? YES
Is He good? YES
Is he in control? YES
If His plan for any of us involves suffering or indeed if we avoid much suffering, do the answers to these questions change? NO
In sorrow, in joy, in a pandemic, to a grieving but hopeful family, even to an unbelieving family in poverty, God is still good. My lecturer didn’t understand, I don’t fully understand, many people with their backs turned against God refuse to even entertain the very idea, but it is true. As we considered during the week of prayer, many people may be very troubled by developments in their lives caused by the pandemic, but we know God is good, his purposes are good even when it may not appear so at first. And God may well be working in the hearts of people who are at the moment far from Him. We were told on the first Sunday of this year, God said “I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” God is working His purpose out.