(Photo credit Abby Cherney)
I have one daughter who is a photographer and another who is a baker. I admit I am spoiled. My kitchen is never clean, but it’s a small price to pay for some of that yummy goodness pictured above. (It’s Chocolate Lava Cake, btw, made and photographed by one said daughter.)
I’ve been thinking much lately about goodness. Seeing goodness in life after loss is like participating in a marathon. It takes effort, training, and persistence to see any goodness after loss. (Not that I would know anything first-hand about a marathon. Anything to avoid sweat is my motto!)
But it is the putting of one foot in front of the another that eventually leads to passing mile markers of goodness. Always, it involves focus. Counting my steps, each one echoing something for which to thank God. Gratitude, like exercise, takes repetition. Practice does not, as they say, make perfect. Practice makes progress, said someone.
And the apostle Paul in Romans 7 gives voice to many of us. We do what we don’t want to do, and don’t do what we know we should. It’s never easy to praise when in pain, but the practiced prayers of our hearts are seen by a holy God. He knows the “sacrifice of praise” and sees the desire of a bleeding heart to trust it’s Maker. Our praise is never rejected, our hearts held by the most skilled of surgeons.
This life is training ground for eternity. You will most certainly face hardship and trials. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” (James 1:2) Do not let this discourage you or cause you to fear, friend. In fact, let it spur you on, like Joseph, to store up during the years of plenty so that when the trials come you have a good and great reserve on which to draw upon.
But the reserves are not the good memories or wonderful years. No, the reserves are the truths you have learned, the truth about God and His Word. These truths will be the very life preserver around you when you find yourself in the depths of the sea, the waters overwhelming. The truth that God is good and everything He does is good will be your anchor in the storm.
He purposes that our “light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2Cor. 4:17) Do you see that, friend? Those trials are achieving something. What are they achieving? Eternal glory. Eternal. Glory. We certainly don’t view our troubles as light and momentary from our perspective, but that eternal glory? That eternal glory far outweighs them all. We can’t even fathom, can we? For some of us, our sorrow is so great, so overwhelming, so heavy, and yet His Word says that these troubles will be far outweighed by eternal glory. This is goodness. This is why we give praise.
Circumstances change. God does not. He gives us good gifts, gifts too numerous to count, but counting them creates a hunger and thirst for more. It opens our eyes to more of His goodness, to see Him in everything. Have you been awestruck by God’s creation lately?
The other day while shopping I saw a child skipping alongside her parents. It made me smile because this little girl’s joy was evident. Seeing her joy gave me joy. Goodness isn’t hard to find if you purpose to look for it.
The overcast days swelling with rain have pressed hard on my perspective this past week, however, clouding not only the sun, but my view of daily life. I had to peer more intently to find the good, but I found it amid the simple: scattered leaves upon the patio, the sound of my children’s laughter, the delightful taste of caramel apple pie with a perfectly flaky crust.
Those things counted with goodness remind me of how good God is. They remind of the pleasures He gives, and the pleasure He takes in giving them. They remind me of His faithfulness and provision. They bring to mind His perfect nature and holiness.
For some of you, finding goodness is a challenge. Your life doesn’t look anywhere near what you thought it would be. You’re facing hard things you never dreamed. You’re wondering where God is at. Oh, friend, He is there. You may not see Him, but look for the love, look for the truth, look for the good. When you find it, you will find His fingerprints. They are all over. Trace them, touch them. They are in every good thing. Goodness and truth – He is it. Stock up, friends.