Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Is God Really Good?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: A woman wrote and shared with me how she had four healthy children; and then God gave her a set of twins, one of whom had Down Syndrome. She said that this little girl is an incredible challenge.

Then she said she got pregnant again, and this time she had a child who was born with a lung problem. They had to get his lungs cleaned out in order for him to be able to breathe. She said that he was now able to breathe, but because of the lack of oxygen, he ended up with cerebral palsy.

She said, “He can’t swallow; he does not smile when you play with him.” And then this part. She said, “My heart is so sad. It’s like my son has died, only I must continue to do everything for him.” And then here’s the real heart of why she wrote. “Is God really good? Doesn’t He make any mistakes?”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, January 15. Nancy’s beginning a two-day series called, Lies Women Believe About God.

Nancy: Now, I’ll say that it's not just women who believe these lies. But these are lies that women have shared with me that they have found themselves believing about God, and at times, they are things I have wrestled with in my own experience. Nothing is more crucial than what you and I believe about God. In fact, what we believe about God is foundational to everything else about our lives.

If we believe things about God that aren't true, we are laying a faulty foundation for our lives that will sooner or later crack. If we have wrong thinking about God, we will have wrong thinking about everything else. Because you see, what we believe about God ultimately determines the way that we live.

I want us to look at one of those lies today. It's a lie that this woman referred to in her letter about her children. It's the lie that God is not really good. If He were, He would have—fill in the blank. Or if He really were good, he would not have—fill in the blank.

Now, most of us don't consciously believe that God is not really good. And if we do feel it, we would never dare to say out loud, "God is not really good" because theologically, we know better. We know in our heads that God is good. But I believe that deep in many of our hearts, as women, there is this lurking suspicion that: Yes, God may be good to everybody else, but God has not been good to me. This lie is at the core of much of our wrong thinking about God.

Let me send you back to Genesis chapter 1 and look at what God made and then see the description. Everything God made was good. Of course it was because it was a reflection of a good God. But when Satan wanted to tempt the woman to rebel against God, he planted in her mind the seed of doubt about God's goodness.

When turbulence comes into our lives: disappointment, pain, when we lose people we love, when things don't go as we had hoped or planned, Satan tempts us to wonder, "Is God really good? If He were, how could He have let this happen? How could He have let my husband abandon me? How could He have let my parents treat me this way? How could He have let me lose my job? Or, why would God have kept this good thing from me?"

I hear from many unmarried women doubting in their hearts the goodness of God because God has not brought to them a husband that they're longing for. It's not just true, by the way, on a personal level, it's true in our world. This is one of the things that people really challenge about God.

When you look in this fallen world at the wars, the famine, the natural disasters, these things are a reality. Satan uses these realities to try to put God in a negative light. How could a truly good God let the Holocaust take place or the famine in Ethiopia?

Once we doubt the goodness of God, we're going to find it hard to trust God. You can't trust a God who's not good. Now, how do we counter that lie in our minds and in our hearts? If we have this lurking suspicion that maybe God really isn't good . . . Maybe you're at a season in your life when it's tempting to think, "God hasn't really been good to me." How do we counter that? Well, we always counter lies with the truth. We replace the lies; we displace the lies with the truth. The truth is that God is good. He is good.

I was looking over the weekend through the Psalms, and I found thirteen references that said “God is good.” Over and over again in the songbook of Israel they affirm God is good. The Lord is good. It also says His name is good; His lovingkindness is good; His mercies are good; His judgments are good, and His Spirit is good. He is good whether or not His choices seem right to us, whether or not we feel it, whether or not it seems true, and whether or not He gives us everything that we want.

Dr. Larry Crabb has written a wonderful book called Finding God. He talks about this matter of the goodness of God. He says, "We must call God good even when we suffer because He is. And when things are going well, we must call Him good for reasons that go beyond our immediate blessings."

When you have a sick child and your child gets well, you say, “God is so good. He healed my child.” Well, that's true. God is good. And He did heal your child. But can you still look up into the eyes of God when your eyes are filled with tears and your child doesn't get healed and say, "God is still good?" Our perspective is so limited. We cannot see and know what God sees and God knows.

Dr. Crabb in his book encourages us to take a look at things from God's perspective. He envisions God saying, “If you look for evidence of My goodness in what you see around you and inside you, you will reach a terribly wrong conclusion. You will conclude that sometimes I am good, and sometimes I am not. But if you look for evidence of my goodness in the way things will be one day, if you are willing to believe that I am at work now to prepare for that day, and if you ponder the meaning of My death—then you will realize that all the badness in the world can no more conquer My goodness than a child can out-wrestle a man.”

One of the most exhilarating experiences of my Christian life in recent years was making a visit to the Brooklyn Tabernacle on one of their Tuesday evening prayer meetings. Some of you are familiar with this church that has really been built on prayer.

I'll never forget, I was standing on the front row of the auditorium during the praise and worship time. The church began to sing a song that was new to me but obviously familiar to them. It's about the goodness of God.

He is good, 
He is good, 
His mercy endures forever, 
He is good.

They were singing this song over and over again. Then at one point Pastor Cymbala interrupted the singing to ask for anyone in that congregation that was just hanging from the rafters. I mean, the place was just really full of people for their prayer meeting night. He said, "I want anyone who doesn't have a job and needs a job to come forward, and we want to pray for you."

Well, at that moment, it was like a stampede. There were scores, I would say, of men and women who came to the front. I was on the front row and just about got run over by all the people just filling that area in front of the platform who were out of work, in need of a job. Then Pastor Cymbala said, "Now we're going to sing that song again.”

He is good, 
He is good, 
His mercy endures forever, 
He is good.

At one point I looked around as they were singing that song. I just saw people with their faces lifted up toward the Lord, their hands, some of them, lifted up in praise to the Lord, a hundred or more people, I would say, in front of me who were out of work singing at the top of their lungs, "He is good, He is good."

At one point, Pastor Cymbala looked down to a woman in that group and said, "You're looking downcast. How can you sing God is good and keep your face down? Lift your face up because God is good."

One of the most powerful encounters for me of the goodness of God came more than twenty years ago. As I received the news, having just been with my family and then having flown back to my place of work; I landed in Virginia, where I was working at the time, and received a phone call that my dad had had a heart attack and was instantly in the presence of the Lord. God did something very gracious for me in that moment.

My dad and I were very close. In the days that followed, there were lots of tears and an enormous sense of loss that I feel sometimes even to this day. But in that very first moment before there was any other thought, God brought to mind a verse that I had read, I think it was just a week or so earlier. It's from Psalm 119, verse 68. Paraphrased it reads, "God is good, and everything He does is good."

Now, my dad had spent the first twenty-some years of my life teaching me that God is good, and everything He does is good. But in that moment, theology that I had in my head became doxology in my heart. I knew that whatever we had to face in the days ahead, God was good. God laid in that understanding, that reminder of His good character, a foundation that became a resting place for my heart, a steadying place for my emotions and allowed us to walk through the days and the months and the years that followed confident in the goodness of God. 

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with the second half of today’s program. It’s part of a series, Lies Women Believe About God. You’ll hear the series today and tomorrow. But we don’t have time to bring you all of Nancy’s teaching. You’ll be able to hear another teaching segment when you get the series on CD. To order, visit ReviveOurHearts.com or call 1-800-569-5959. Nancy’s about to bring up another one of the lies women believe about God.

Nancy: Frequently I receive notes from women like this one expressing a desperate longing to feel and know the love of God in their lives. This woman said, "I struggle with seasons of oppression and torment. I desire desperately to know the love of God for me and to be deeply satisfied in a love relationship with my Savior."

Another woman said, "Although I was a child of God, I had believed throughout my life that certain aspects of the truth applied to everyone except me. God was good to them but not to me. God loved them but not me. Others were of great worth to God but not me. I knew the facts that God is good, God loves me, and that I was of great worth to Him; but there was no connection in my mind between facts and how I felt. Surely if God loved me and I meant so much to Him, I would feel loved and valuable."

Now this is another one of those lies that most of us would not admit to believing. In our minds, we know we're supposed to believe that God does love us, but for so many of us as women, there is that disconnect between what we know and what we feel to be true. Now, therein lies one of the problems, and that is that we tend to believe what we feel rather than what we know is true.

And so, as we look at our relationships—you may be living in a loveless marriage, you may be experiencing rejection from an ex-mate or grown children who never come home to visit, never call. Perhaps you're single, approaching forty, and not a suitor in sight—no possibility for marriage. Your feelings say, “Nobody loves me.” And the implication is, "not even God."

When the seed of a lie is planted in our minds, we dwell on the lie until we ultimately come to believe that it's true. And sooner or later our behavior is going to reflect what we really believe. Then we will end up in bondage.

Now, it's no small matter to believe this lie that God doesn't love me. We're looking at lies women believe about God, and this particular one has enormous implications. It affects every other area of our lives and relationships. Those little seeds that we allow to come into our minds—"Maybe God doesn't really love me"—ultimately will take root and then grow up to produce this incredible harvest and produce great damage.

So how do we deal with that lie? As always, we counter the lie with the truth. The truth is that God does love me. God loves you. God loves us—whether or not we feel love and regardless of what we have done, where we have been, what our past is. God loves us with an infinite love.

That's one of the wonderful things, by the way, about the love of God. His love, unlike our natural human love, is not based on what we have done. It's not based on our worth; it's not based on our performance; it's not based on anything we could do to please Him or to gain His favor; it's not based on our worth. His love for us is based on the fact that He is a lover. He doesn't love us because we're lovable; He loves us because He is love. His love is something that we do not deserve; and we could never, ever earn, no matter how hard we try.

I have a friend named Melina who has faced a long, hard battle with breast cancer. Ultimately, she had to have a double mastectomy. She wrote a letter following that surgery that shared how God used that experience to bring her to a deeper comprehension of the incredible love of God. She said as she was with her husband, "We wept and trembled when he took my bandages off for the first time after that surgery. I was so ugly, scarred, and bald. I was in intense grief that I could never be a whole wife to him again.

Steve held me tightly and with tears in his eyes said, "Melina, I love you because that's who I am."

And then Melina said in her letter, "I instantly recognized Christ in my husband." As the bride of Christ, we are also eaten up with cancer—sin—and are scarred, mutilated, and ugly. But He loves us because that's Who He is. "No comeliness in us draws Christ's attention," she says. "It's only His essence that draws Him to us."

Someone sent me an email yesterday. I just have to read this passage to you. It's a wonderful passage from a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the love of Christ. He said,

Surely there cannot be a more delightful thought that can fill the soul of a mortal than this: The Son of God loves me. Did you never sit down for half an hour and try to digest this thought? That God should pity me, I can understand, being so far inferior to Himself and so full of misery. That He should be generous to me, I can comprehend from the liberality and bounty of His nature and from my great necessities. But that He should love me is wonderful!

I cannot see anything lovely in myself. There are many who see that there is much unloveliness about me. And I do not doubt that there is. But yet, He who knows me better than I know myself and is not unmindful of my infirmities and weaknesses, says He loves me.

He does not put me at arm's length and then feed me from His bounty. That would be gracious. But He opens wide His bosom and takes me into His heart. And to which of the angels did ever He say this: (I believe angels are the subjects of divine love in a certain sense, but I have never read of Christ saying to them) "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you." This is the special privilege of the sons of Adam who have fallen, which angels never have. How marvelous!

And is it not more than marvelous that God should have selected me out of the sons of Adam? Perhaps there is nothing in you which you can look upon as a reason why God should love you. Did I say perhaps? Why, there are 10,000 things about every one of us that might have won for us the Almighty's hatred. Instead of this, He says that He loves us.

As I was pondering through these last days the matter of the love of God, my heart kept going back to a hymn. You’re familiar with it:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.

Could we with ink the oceans fill
And were the skies of parchment made.
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.

("The Love of God" Fredrick M. Lehman)

You see, we counter lies with the truth. Our hearts are washed with the water of the Word of God. We renew our minds. When we doubt in our emotions the love of God, when we feel unlovable as we are, we go back to the Word of God and our hearts are renewed. So let me just, as we close here, wash our hearts with the Word of God and what it has to say about the love of God.

The apostle Paul had come to experience for himself the love of God there on the road to Damascus, and he never got over the wonder of what the love of God meant in his life. He says in Romans chapter 5,

God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:5-8)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Rom. 8:38)

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been reading a few Scriptures that counter the idea, "God doesn't really love me." It's an example of replacing lies about God with the truth. Nancy takes you through this process in many areas of life I the book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free. She discusses lies women believe about God, relationships, children, emotions, and many other areas.

We’ll send you a copy of Lies Women Believe when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Just call us at 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, has the relationship you’ve had with your earthly father made you fearful of your heavenly Father? Tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts Nancy Leigh DeMoss will take a close look at the lie that God is just like my father.

Nancy: Now, as women, our view of God is often shaped and strongly influenced by the men that we have known in our lives—and more so by a father or a husband or brothers—men that are closely related to us.

I am very thankful to have had a loving, involved, committed father. And I will acknowledge that that has made it so much easier for me to trust my heavenly Father and receive His love for me. But I’m also aware that for many women today their experience is just the opposite. I know if we could go around the room and talk about what we think when we say the word, “Father,” that there would probably be more women who would have painful thoughts than would have easy or blessed thoughts when they think about a Father relationship.

So when I speak of God being our heavenly Father, for many women today, that just makes them cringe. It’s a painful thought. Your Father may have been distant, absent. He may not have been there at all. He may have abandoned your family when you were young. Or he may have been very much in the home, but overbearing, harsh, or abusive. Or maybe he wasn’t either of those two extremes but he just didn’t know how to express love.

Leslie: I hope you’ll join us then. To lead us in prayer, here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I’d like to pray for you the prayer that the apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers. I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ; and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.