Problems will confront us in this life. This is a simple old song with a powerful exhortation on how to deal with troubles of all kinds. Please give “Think of His Goodness to You” a sing-along listen, then come back for a chat on the counsel it offers.
“♫♪ When waves of affliction sweep …♫♪”
This lively old hymn dives into real-life problems of affliction, sunlight hidden from view, storms, breached trust, misfortunes and worse. Why do a song about life’s difficulties? Reason — to point us toward a way up and out. The action this song urges is that we direct our focus to the One who is mighty and good, the One who is willing and able to deliver us from — or get us through — evil.
For centuries people have faced evil and have wished to be delivered from it, praying the prayer given at the end of Revelation, “The one who has spoken these things says, “I am coming soon!” So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!” Some call this the rescue prayer of “Beam me up, Scotty — get me out of here!”
Jesus Christ will return and things will be different. (He is coming sooner or later. I do believe the Bible teaches that no one but God knows when.) But I cannot find where it is written that we are supposed to confront life’s challenges by letting the thief just go ahead and steal, kill and destroy us, our families, our land, our institutions, churches or governments today — or this week — or this month — or this year — or any time just because Jesus Christ will return “to rescue us”. I believe a much better glimpse into the thinking of our powerful, conquering Lord is found in Jesus’ parable in Luke 19 — “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.”
Occupy till I come. As long as evil is present, we are going to need to get through some rough times. Our God is able — and, oh my, does He have a good track record of getting people through rough times. We see in the Bible — and from other human experiences — thousands of examples of the Lord getting His people through evil, safe — and often wiser — to the other side. Recall the parting of the Red Sea. Joshua at Jericho. David and Goliath. Gideon and the Midianites. Jehoshaphat and Moab. Daniel and the lions. Peter and Paul with their jailers. Jesus and the garden tomb. They were not “delivered from” trouble, rather they were brought through to the other side. Maybe we could say of these examples, “Deliverance came, but they all had to show up and do their part.” But don’t miss the point that they all confronted difficulties, and with the Lord’s help they got through them and lived to see another day.
One day we will receive new bodies that will be able to “go the distance” with a Lord who has no beginning and no end. Every day between now and then, in every circumstance — good or evil — we can look to the good Lord, who is always present to show His goodness in the land of the living. He is good and will deliver us from, or through, everything one way or another. Our calling and decree is: “occupy till I come”.
And, in case you have not heard, the Kingdom is advancing rapidly. The “good guys” are NOT losing. God and His people have been gaining ground ever since Jesus Christ ascended. Jesus is active — right now this very day — as head of the body and his body is growing by leaps and bounds. These are great days to be alive, and to be an active part of the Body of Christ — to be in the game. OCCUPY!
The Lord Is Good
Believing is not best built by learning volumes about the enemy. To build strong believing we want to learn everything we can about our great big wonderful God. When it comes to learning about the Lord’s nature through reading, the Bible is our primary source. Here is a tiny sampling of verses from the Bible about the goodness of God.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34)
Good and upright is the Lord.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting.
You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes.
Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.
The Lord is Good to All, and His Tender Mercies Are Over All His Works.
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.
People joke of complaining about “first world problems” — problems that could only vex us in a time of prosperity — such as slow Internet access, poor mobile-phone coverage, phone battery dying (low battery anxiety), the television remote not working and so on. Our song does not mention, let alone joke about problems that confront us due to prosperity. But, all jokes aside, even a “good thing” like prosperity can spawn problems that point us to focus on the goodness of the Lord.
Proverbs 30 tips us off that problems of prosperity are not even “modern”. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; … feed me with the bread that is my portion. Otherwise, I may have too much and deny You, saying, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, profaning the name of my God.” (Poverty brings problems, but so do riches — though it is interesting that poverty seems to do a better job of getting people to turn to the Lord than riches seem to do.)
When I first noticed this verse, this counsel from Proverbs surprised me. I could easily understand grousing while poor, but I had not considered the pitfall of being tempted to forget about God because I thought my abundance had me well covered — as in “Jesus, I don’t need anything from you, but thanks all the same.” No, let’s team up with the Psalmist who wrote, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
Bottom line, I tell myself (and gladly share with you), “My dear self, you will never face a situation so bad — or so abundant — that it wouldn’t be a blessing to think of His goodness to you.”
God bless you lots!
LYRICS Think of His Goodness to You
Text: R. C. Ward (1905)
Tune: R. C. Ward (1905)
1. When waves of affliction sweep over the soul
And sunlight is hidden from view,
If ever you’re tempted to fret or complain,
Just think of His goodness to you.
Just think of His goodness to you;
Yes, think of His goodness to you;
Though storms o’er you sweep,
He is able to keep;
O think of His goodness to you.
2. The world may forsake you, and those whom you trust
May prove to be false and untrue;
There’s One you can trust even unto the end;
Just think of His goodness to you.
3. Misfortune’s dark cloud may hang over the way,
Despite your best efforts to do;
The Savior is guarding your treasures up there;
Just think of His goodness to you.
4 When dear ones are taken away from you here,
You loved with affection so true,
Look unto the Savior for strength to endure,
And think of His goodness to you.
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