I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13)
If you could paint a portrait of your version of the "good life" what would it look like? What's the golden personal dream that fills your mind when you say to yourself, "If only I had...."? What's the one thing in your life that you tell yourself would make you happy?
You see, it's very tempting to associate the good life with something physical. Perhaps it would mean living in a certain location. Maybe it would mean getting that job that you've always dreamed of. Or it could mean having the special relationship with that special person. Maybe for you it would be earning a certain amount of money. Maybe it would be looking a certain way or experiencing a certain level of physical health.
When you define the good life by these kind of physical experiences there's a second thing that happens; you tend to judge God by his willingness to deliver them to you. You unwittingly begin to evaluate God's goodness by whether or not he gives you the thing that you've set your heart on. But often God doesn't give us the things that we've set our hearts on precisely because we've set our hearts on them. Because we've set our hearts on them they're a spiritual danger to us. So, God is responding to us in a way that's good, even though it doesn't feel good at the moment. It's often in these moments of want that we're experiencing the "goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Because he loves us and because he's good, God keeps from us those things that fight for control of our hearts and therefore, fight for the place that only he's supposed to have.
Imagine a little child running to the house one afternoon and saying to his mom, "Mommy, I am hungry...I want a candy bar, a can of soda, and a bowl of ice cream." Now pretend that you respond, "I'll make you a peanut butter sandwich with some apple slices on the side." There's a good possibility that your child won't run over to his neighbor friend's house and say, "You won't believe what a good Mom I have...I asked for unhealthy treats and she responded by giving me things that were much better." Probably the more likely scenario is that the child would immediately protest to his mother, "I don't want peanut butter...I want candy...why can't I have candy?" At this moment your child doesn't think of you as the definition of parental goodness!
Being confident of the goodness of the Lord shouldn't be confused with an assumption that because God is good, he'll give me the things that I've set my heart on. In his grace, God is freeing you from the small confines of your little definition of what's good so that you can experience the huge and satisfying good that he's planned for you. Grace welcomes me to experience what is eternally right, true and good. Grace invites me to good that I could never have imagined, deserved, or earned.
It's nice to have a nice house and a comfortable life, but it's even better to have come to the place where you no longer need those things to feel good about your life. Sure God will bless me with physical things, but every good physical thing that he gives me is meant to be a sign that points me to the good that can only be found in him.
This is the bottom line. The good that God promises me isn't a situation, possession, position, or relationship. The good that he promises me is himself. What could possibly be a better gift than that!?
This article is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information visit www.paultripp.com.