Looking for God’s Goodness in 2017

It many ways, 2016 was not a “good” year for our family. There were deaths in our extended family; we received a terminal diagnosis for our unborn child, who was stillborn shortly after; we struggled through another year without Dan having permanent employment. We felt, and still feel, a constant hum of stress over these difficult experiences.

We know we were not the only ones to struggle through this past year. Many families we care about, including several in our church family, experienced illness, death, and loss of other kinds.

Though on a much lesser level than sickness or death, it seemed like in 2016 there were an abnormal number of things around the house and on our cars that broke and needed repair.  And of course, there was always the day-to-day stress of just living—caring for a home and children, paying bills, making ends meet, working on relationships.

I have felt the past several months weighing on me pretty heavily. So recently during an editing project for my work, I was struck by something that Randy Alcorn wrote about God’s goodness. He was referencing Exodus 33:18-19:

Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”  The LORD replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you” (emphasis added).

Randy writes:

Moses requests to see God’s Glory. A person’s glory is that which most reveals their excellence and splendor (Proverbs 20:29). In response to Moses’ request, God says He will make all “His goodness” pass before him. Is that your view of God? When you think of His excellence and glory, is the first thing that comes to your mind “His goodness”?

Since reading that, I’ve been contemplating God’s goodness a lot as I look back over 2016. I realized I have struggled with doubt that He is good and has good plans for me and for my family (especially at times when life certainly doesn’t feel good).

I sat down to do some reading the other night, and saw that Scripture has a lot to say about God’s goodness, and how He extends that goodness to His children. Here’s just a few of those verses:

“The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25).

“You are good and do good” (Psalm 119:68).

“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you” (Psalm 86:5).

“The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing” (Psalm 34:10).

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6).

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).

“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:14).

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

As I start 2017, my challenge to myself is to look for God’s goodness over the course of this year. I’m sure the next twelve months will bring their own challenges (though we really do hope for a quieter year!), and I know some of those difficulties are not going to be revealed as part of His good plan until eternity.

But I’m also going to trust that God will be revealing His goodness to me today, if I open my eyes to look for it. It may be as simple as my toddler’s giggle, the taste of a delicious meal, the warmth of a fire, a friend’s smile. I know His abundant goodness will be there: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).

 

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