It must be very puzzling for lost people. The MRI scan for that sweet little boy in remission comes back with good news and all the Christians exclaim “God is so good!” But when that same MRI scan shows the fatal tumor has returned, we all declare “God is still good.” You have to admit, we are giving the skeptics plenty of reason to be skeptical. Our cookie-cutter responses to joyous and tragic events must confound them. In their minds, they must be secretly thinking:
Aren’t they just giving their God an excuse to fail when they need Him the most?
Aren’t they only saying “God is still good” as a naïve form of wishful thinking?
(Don’t tell anyone but in my weaker moments I wonder the same things.)
Next week, friends and family will gather in homes across our country to give thanks for what they treasure most. In most of those homes, sincere gratitude will be expressed for good food, good friends, good health, a free country, and so on.
But in the hearts and homes of true believers, Thanksgiving will be slightly different. What is different about the Thanksgiving heart of an unbeliever and the Thanksgiving heart of a follower of Christ? The answer tells us a lot about that Christian cliché “God is still good.”
G.K. Chesterton said:
“For the Christian, joy is central and sorrow is peripheral. That is because life’s fundamental questions are answered and only the peripheral ones are not. But for the one who does not know Christ, sorrow is central and joy peripheral, because the peripheral questions may be answered but the fundamental ones are not.”
As a believer in Christ, our heart questions are fully satisfied. Those fundamental heart questions are: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? For the Christian, the answers are fully found in Christ. We are his chosen people, we are here for a temporary mission, and we are headed for an eternal Kingdom.
For now, our peripheral questions are often left unanswered. Questions like “Why did my kid die of cancer?” or “Why did my spouse leave me?” or “How will we pay the bills?” Now you begin to see how Christians can still proclaim that God is good even when the cancer comes back. We believe He is still good because He has already taken care of the most fundamental cries of our hearts. It’s for that reason that the Christian gives God the leeway to make with their lives as He sees fit. He has answered our big questions so we trust him with the smaller ones.
Is all of this wishful thinking?
The answer is Yes only if Jesus was a just a man. But if Jesus of Nazareth was more than a man, if He was truly God incarnate, then that Christian cliché of “God is still good” could not be more accurate.
To the believer this Thanksgiving, assess your heart to ensure that your gratitude is firmly entrenched in the person of Jesus Christ who has answered our most fundamental questions. Thank God for the food but thank Him most for His Son.
To the unbeliever this Thanksgiving, assess the person of Jesus Christ to ensure that you aren’t missing out on the greatest gift mankind has ever received. Until you do, you’ll be scratching your head wondering why all these Christians can claim that God is so good when the MRI results are so bad.