LoGG The Hard Times

“God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.”

As you recite that, do you really believe that right now? You know it to be true, as a believer, but right now, do you feel that way? Where are you hurting today, where do you feel like God is testing you? When you think of that pain, that trial, you are less confident making that declaration – “God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.”

How are you responding to that difficulty? What or who do you turn to for comfort and help to get you through? Is it a thing such as food, or an activity such as sport, or a person such as a spouse or a friend? Or is it something more sinister like self-pity, or a sinful habit like an addiction?

The apostle James, the elder of the church in Jerusalem during some of the most tumultuous times of persecution the church experienced, could easily list a whole bunch of areas where he knew his congregation felt tested and tried. He knew tough times all too well; and he wrote an entire letter to encourage his flock to respond properly when they were under pressure. Because that’s what matters – not the difficulty itself, which we are often tempted to focus on intently, but rather how we respond. He writes,

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:16-18, ESV

In these verses, James reminds us that God is all the time, even during our hardest trials, which are a necessary part of our spiritual growth (v.2-4). We can say it this way: God is not on trial during our trials; we are. He uses hard times to put our faith to the test. If we are to pass with flying colours (v.12), we need to remember to ‘LoGG’ our trials, as a ship captain keeps a log of his voyage. LoGG as in remembering His Love, His Goodness and His Grace.

1. Love (v.16)
“Beloved”, James writes – you are loved! You are bought at a precious price. Remember that you are deeply loved by God! He paid the ultimate sacrifice for you. We need to believe that down to our very core. To quote H.B. Charles Jr:

“The peril of the unredeemed sinner is unbelief. The peril of the redeemed sinner is misbelief.”

We “misbelieve” when we forget what it cost God to save us. We “misbelieve” when we forget the pit from which we were rescued. We “misbelieve” when we accuse God of mistreating us (v 13-15). The only cure for misbelief is replacing falsehood with Truth. Truth is the Word of God. No matter what happens, His promises are true. It is in His Word that we discover His unchanging character – He makes no mistake. His purposes for you and me are outlined in His Word – that is, to transform us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. We learn there that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). He is our ever-present help in our times of need (Ps. 46:1). Linger at the foot of the cross, contemplating what Jesus did for us, how much He loved us.

2. Goodness (v.17)
Every good in this world ultimately comes from God. He made it; He sends it; He gives it. Think of the Doxology – “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” What do we have that we have not received (1 Cor 4:7) – our gifts, our talents, our looks, our wealth, our creativity, our strength, our accomplishments? Our God is good, faithful and gracious – completely, constantly and unchangeably. There is no shadow of turning within Him. He is the still constant in our lives. He cannot not be good. Everything He does is good.
God is good, all the time. Do we really believe His goodness to us? This is a particular area of struggle for me. It’s so easy for me to get bogged down by the difficulty in front of me that I misbelieve God’s goodness towards me, to the point of cynicism.

So, recount with me His goodness in your life. Raise your right hand with me and, as you outstretch each finger, say each of these phrases:
God is good
All the time
In every situation
No matter what
God is good.

With your five fingers extended, add, as they do in Nigeria, “I am a witness.”

Do it again. Close your eyes and take a moment to recount one or two instances just this week where you can bear witness to His goodness. Say them out loud. Witness to those around you.

God is good and faithful, and He loves to show those attributes to us if we pay enough attention. When we are tempted to give up, remember the goodness of God. When we feel like giving in to temptation, remember the goodness of God. When we want to resign from life, remember the goodness of God.

3. Grace (v.18)
“…of his own will”

Salvation doesn’t start with us; it starts with God. “Whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) He pursued us, since the Garden of Eden. We did not deserve any part of the salvation plan; He gave it to us freely. We were dead in our sin and in need of new life (Eph 2:1), which He gave to us. Why? Because our old life is indelibly marked with sin and disobedience.

If He did not leave us dead in our sin, then we can be certain that, no matter what we may be facing today, He will not abandon us, nor let us be tempted beyond what we could bear. He will provide the way out (1 Cor 10:13). That way out is found in His Word. The Word of God is an instrument of grace in our lives; it is “alive and active” (Heb 4:12), a sword that lays bare the hidden secrets of our hearts, revealing sin, exposing every excuse, showing us our need, and then leading us to the cross of Christ where we can be forgiven.

Friends, this is not a magical formula to dispel all your fears, clear your confusion, or wipe away all your tears. Most of the time, we don’t have a choice about the bad things that happen to us, not making any sense to us, appearing random. If your life seems random at the moment, you may be assured that it is not finished. We are never really finished in this life because God is always doing more work in us.

God is much more concerned with how we respond in our difficult times; that’s what matters! Our hard times are designed to bring us closer to Him – to His love, His goodness and His grace. LoGG your hard times with Him, knowing that, in the end, weeping will pass, and joy will come; that we will be brought forth from the fire as pure gold.

Meditate on God’s Love; recount His Goodness; bask in His Grace. A good memory of the right things will keep you strong during those hard times.

 

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Thank you to the anonymous member who submitted this guest post. If you would like to see your work published on the Cup of Faith blog, you can submit a contribution here.

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