Upon moving into our Elgin campus, we made an amazing discovery. In a random filing cabinet drawer buried beneath boxes and trash, we found a stack of paper three inches thick, bound together with rubber bands. They were copies of A. W. Tozer’s last ten years of sermon outlines. We have no idea how they came to be in that filing cabinet. I have spent protracted time reading through these reams of Tozer’s original preaching notes. What I see is that the quality of his ministry came from the depth of his suffering. God kept taking him back again and again to that school nobody wants to attend. Viewing his life in retrospect, you see that the seeds of suffering produced the abundant fruit in his work.
So here are a few things about the goodness of God that Tozer learned. I see these lessons in my own life, and I hope you are learning them too. Let’s do a flyby of Scripture that boasts in the goodness of the Lord.
God’s goodness is something He wants us to experience.
Psalm 34:8 invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” I’m a big-time taster. If I’m ever around you at meal time, guard your plate. I admit I like to sample. To me, friends share food; that’s intimacy. People who are territorial about the helpings on their plates sometimes get a little leery when I show up, but the good news is that God is totally on that program. He’s like, “Taste! Sample and see. Find out for yourself that I am good.” God’s goodness is something that He wants us to experience.
God’s goodness is the eventual conclusion of every generation of His children.
You might not think it now, but if you’re one of God’s children, you’re going to figure it out by the end of your life—God is good. Before your last day, “God is good” will come from your lips. I don’t know what He’s going to have to take you through to get you to that place, but eventually your value system will be set up in such a way that you say, “The Lord does all things well—and good!” Everything that He allowed, everything He withheld, every difficult season, every stretching circumstance, He meant for good. His disposition is kindness. His default action is for your benefit. He’s good! And someday, you will taste it!
Psalm 100:5 says, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Every generation learns the truth—God’s goodness is something He wants us to experience. It flows to us as steadfast love and faithfulness and is present in everything that He does.
God’s goodness is all over what He does.
Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” I haven’t found God to be superfast in answering questions like, Why did You allow this, God? or When will this end? But I do believe His mercy or His kindness is over all that He is doing.
God’s goodness may not be immediately obvious.
Lamentations 3:25 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him.” But if you’re like, “I’ve got to see it now! God; You’ve got like ten days to show me that You’re good or I am out of here!” That’s not going to work out very well for you. God doesn’t respond to bullying. He’s not shaking and saying, Wow. We’d better go over and help him because he could leave. That’s not how it works. Even His timetable is good, but we can only see this after events have transpired. Our prayer must be, “Father, I’m waiting for You because I know You are good in what You do and in when You do it!”
God’s goodness is a refuge, and He is aware of the people who find it.
I don’t know what you know about the goodness of the Lord, but God knows what you know, and what you’re discovering about Him. Nahum 1:7 says, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”
As God watches us live our lives, He points to you and says, “She’s trusting,” or “He’s not,” and “He’s trusting a bit,” and “She did last Thursday.” He knows those who are taking His promises to heart. He’s proving the Word of God in our lives. He knows the people who are resting in and the people who are resisting His promises. Stronghold is what God’s goodness looks like to the enemy on the outside; refuge is what God’s goodness looks like to us on the inside. He knows in this verse doesn’t just mean He recognizes; it also means He draws near in intimate fellowship when we protect ourselves within His character.