O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever (I Chronicles 16:34).
It takes a miracle worked by the Holy Spirit for us to say that God is good—and mean it from the depths of our heart. Without that change of heart, any thanks we give to him is conditional. If we say that we have a good car or a good job, we mean that it is usually good. We admit that these things are not always, nor completely, good. After all, “Nothing is perfect.” We will still call it a good car even if its mileage is not so good, and we will label it as a good job even if there are parts to it that irritate us. After all, we say: “Nothing is perfect.”
Most are willing to say that God is good, with that same stipulation. Honesty demands that we sometimes question how good God is. When we get a raise, when we gain success, when things are going our way—then we see God is good. We are not as sure when our plans hit the skids, when success slips through our fingers, when a loved one dies, or when we wake up on a bed of pain. We admit that God is powerful. After all, who is going to stop him from what he plans to do? We will agree that God is holy. Our conscience and his Word testify to that.
But if he is so good, why does he allow bad things to happen? Why doesn’t he step in to pull his child out of harm’s way? Why does he apparently allow evil to prevail? More than one warrior has asked, “Where is God?” when he saw unspeakable calamity strike. “Was God MIA when my brothers were ambushed?” “Did he not care when my battle buddy was captured and tortured?” “Are words written on the wall at COP Restrepo true? Does God hate us all forever?” Is God always and completely good? Is he the one exception to “Nothing is perfect.”? He is. Whether we believe it or not, see it or not, or understand it or not. We look at life as through eyes with cataracts. Our view is dim. It is distorted. It is partial.
We often cannot see God’s goodness even when we are staring at it. We do not deserve his goodness. We must beg him not to treat us as we deserve. We do not want to limit him to our understanding of what might be good. He is goodness personified. That means there is nothing wrong with him. That means he is holy. And we are not. What we deserve is worse than we could imagine in our worst nightmare. But our God does not give us what we deserve. He gives us what is good for us. He deals with us in mercy. Mercy washes over our scabs and infections.
Mercy washes us clean. Mercy makes us forgiven, restored, renewed. Mercy makes us good. Surely, we will thank him for being who he is and doing what he has done for us. He is good! And thank Goodness, his mercy endures forever.
We pray: Hear our prayer of thanksgiving, God of goodness and mercy. Flood us with your goodness. Cover us with your mercy. Fill us with joyful faith. Permit us to have a happy Thanksgiving. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida Provided by WELS Ministry