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Posts Tagged ‘the goodness of God’

I thought I had cured myself of being a ‘glass half empty’ person. I thought I had learnt to be more grateful for family and friends, for the lovely things I own and the wonderful experiences I have had. Yet now and then, I hear this peevish, little voice inside me complaining about something I have missed out on or pointing out things tantalisingly beyond my reach. ‘Yes, you have that,’ it says, ‘but … well, you could have had this instead. Look what you’ve missed out on yet again!’

Recently, I received an email announcing the results of a short story competition I entered months ago. In it, I discovered that, while I did not win, my story was among the ten best entries and that, as a result, I would receive $150. This was a pleasant surprise, especially since I had forgotten all about the competition. But then came that ‘glass half empty’ moment when I remembered that the first prize was ten times that amount—$1500. Immediately, my joy in winning my $150 was dimmed. ‘I could have done lots with that $1500,’ I grumbled. ‘The email says that choosing a winner was difficult. Probably I just missed out.’

Thankfully, God soon intervened and I began to laugh at myself—especially when I remembered that the basic story idea had emerged from something someone else told me rather than from any cleverness on my part. Yes, I embellished it and put time and effort into polishing it up, after gaining my friend’s permission. But in reality, as I believe God showed me, this story was a gift from the very beginning—and any prize I received was an added bonus.

I suspect all of us can think of things or experiences we would very much like to have, including those we may have enjoyed in a past role or setting. Recently, I attended a funeral back at the church where we spent many years and, while it was good to honour our friend who had passed away, see other old friends and be in a place we had loved so much, it was also rather painful to realise those days are well and truly gone now. For a while, I indulged in a little self-pity, but then God reminded me of lessons learnt back then and the wonderful life experiences I have had since, including my writing journey.

I may yearn for times past or for things beyond my reach, for one reason or another, yet it is unhealthy to stay in this negative, ‘glass half empty’ space, isn’t it? Instead, I am called to live fully and realistically in the present moment with God, noticing what there is for me to do right now and doing it with all my heart. And I am also called to be thankful and at peace, knowing God is with me, whatever is happening or not happening around me.

May I soon learn to see that glass not as half empty at all, but gloriously half full—indeed, constantly brimming over with God’s grace and goodness and incredible love!

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

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Jo 17Last week, in preparation for speaking somewhere on Australia Day, I went on a little foray back into our nation’s history—and also into the depths of my brain, as I tried to remember what we learnt at school about Captain Arthur Phillip and Botany Bay and Port Jackson and such like. How amazing that, after eight months of sailing across thousands of kilometres of ocean, those eleven ships of the First Fleet managed to arrive within a few days of one another! But can you imagine being tossed around in the depths of a small, wooden ship for eight long months, scared, starving—and probably sick too? I feel ill even thinking about it!

No wonder the first chaplain to the new colony, Reverend Richard Johnson, chose some verses from Psalm 116 as the text for his first sermon here a week later—in particular, verse 12, which he would have read from the King James Version:

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?

Or, as the New International Version puts it:

How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?

Perhaps some of those present—particularly convicts—might not have felt as thankful as Richard Johnson did. How had God been good to them? Here they were on the other side of the world and so unsure what lay ahead for them. I read about the youngest convict to reach our shores—a nine-year-old boy, transported for stealing. I wonder what his life had been like before that and what happened to him as he grew up in New South Wales. Others too seem to have been sentenced so unjustly, then suffered further injustices after arriving here.

Yet the writer of Psalm 116—most likely David—had been in equally terrible situations. And his response here is a very moving, heartfelt song of thankfulness to God. So, as I read it through several times, I began to think about my own response to all God has done for me over the years. How thankful have I been for God’s constant rescuing, providing, comforting, healing and guiding, along with so many other things?

Verse 7 seemed to challenge me the most:

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

Yes, I can be at rest. God provided for and sustained me in the past—and God will do the same in the future. It irks me a little at times when I hear people say things like ‘Oh, God was so good to me—I found a car park easily.’ Or ‘But God was good and I didn’t miss my bus.’ No doubt they are simply expressing their thanks to God, but I am often tempted to pipe up, ‘So does that mean God was bad when you couldn’t find a car park or did miss your bus?’ Of course not. God does not change (Malachi 3:6). God will remain faithful and I can therefore be at peace.

God is good—all the time. In the midst of widespread drought in our country when bushfires rage and people lose so much, even their very lives, God is still good. One day we will understand. But for now, let’s keep on trusting God—all the time.

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