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Goodness and Mercy

12 Days of Thanksgiving: DAY SEVEN

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.”

The phrase happens at least 5 times in the Psalms and once in the book of First Chronicles where some of the praise psalms are repeated. It was obviously a repeated theme for the poets and songwriters (and kings) of the time. I wouldn’t adequately experience a renewal of my grateful heart this season if I did not focus time on to Whom we give thanks. The truth of that phrase deserves repeat play in my own mind and heart as well.

There are many things in this life that belie the goodness of God. We all know of those things. We all experience them. We all read of them and watch them on the evening news or the latest website post. We may each have experiences engraved in our thoughts that suggest to our hearts, “how can God be good in this?” “How can my ‘good’ God allow this?”

Indeed God more often gets the rap for a faltering goodness — one that cannot seem to stand up to the realities of this world. For an elitist goodness reserved for the holiest of citizens, bargained by the saintliest of deeds. For a lobbied goodness paid as penance for life’s unbending guidelines. For an ill-conceived goodness sometimes spent on those deemed undeserving and withheld from those waiting.

But, that’s not the God I know. I’ve had all those thoughts. I’ve been there. In some ways I am there. And still I have to admit that’s not the God I know. The Bible teaches that both good and hardship come from God’s hand. Both smooth roads and rocky ground. Both abundance and want. He governs it all. He bestows. He allows. He shields. He exposes. The scripture begs the question: How can we accept one without the other from the hand of Almighty God? What criteria can we use to determine what may be labeled as His goodness?

How can we believe all we read and say we believe about this God without accepting His goodness in whatever seemingly faltering package it arrives. It’s certainly true; we often have a failing view. I’m not sure I understand much about the greater good or the unrevealed tapestry we are so often left to locate. What I do know is that recognizing the goodness of God sometimes requires an act of will. It acknowledges that IF I believe in this God, then it is a necessary truth that He is good. What makes it easier to accept? Thanking Him for what we know is good. And thanking Him for His own inherent goodness.

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.”

I’m thankful for this truth. I’m thankful for the encouragement to believe and embrace it. And I’m thankful that through this gratitude, I’m better able to understand the second part of that phrase — His mercy endures forever. That is good. Through all the confusing times, bad choices, mis-spoken words, tough consequences, wrong attitudes, failed attempts, and broken paths — all the humanness — His mercy endures. That is good. For all the experiences in this life that seem good, we can thank Him. For all the experiences where we can’t fathom goodness, we can rest in His mercy which endures forever.

Thank God.

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