Faith, Life

The Christmas Book

Last weekend, I found myself with one remaining remnant of the Christmas season hanging around the house like a guest you just can’t get rid of: the Christmas memory book. It’s one of those things you hate to fill out every year, but love to read the following December when you pull it out of the attic. So far, my family has seven Christmases catalogued with our family’s cards, traditions, meals, activities, special gifts, mishaps and so on.

Desperately wanting to be done with it so I could officially declare Christmas over, I quickly scribbled answers into each of the blanks for “Christmas 2017.” The last section has several lines to fill in things you’ve received during the season. Typically, I use these lines to fill in answered prayer or special blessings: my son’s birth, a much needed newer vehicle, the purchase of our fixer upper.

Because I was in a hurry, and because no major personal devastation stood out in my mind, I quickly scribbled “God has been so good to us this year.” Boom! Done. I could pack up the book. Sayonara, Christmas!

But I lingered a moment looking at what I had just written and a feeling of sadness came over me. I felt that I had betrayed myself and what I believe. For the past several years, I’ve become increasingly cynical towards those who equate good fortune or material acquisitions to God’s goodness. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe God blesses people in these ways. There is plenty of evidence in Scripture of the rewards of proper stewardship, of people who seem richly (and monetarily) blessed because of God’s favor. Brent and I certainly have felt that very favor in our own lives.

But the trouble happens when we automatically assume good fortune is a sign of God’s goodness. If we think that way, we must also conclude that if we experience bad fortune, we must somehow be on God’s poo-poo list. That somehow he has chosen not to be good to us.

That is a lie.

Just last week, my family received the devastating news that yet another member of our family is about to battle cancer. What was initially thought to be contained in the breast has been discovered in both the liver and spine. The judgment? It can’t be cured. The best they can do is contain it.

I started this year hopeful that it was going to be our family’s best year yet, but the truth is, we don’t know what’s barreling at us five minutes in the future. A job loss, a diagnosis, an accident, death. We simply do not know the next moment.

As I considered all of this, I no longer felt that I had betrayed my beliefs. I can confidently write that God has been so good to us in 2017, enormous blessings and all, because I also know the same will be true in 2018, even if we happen to reap devastation upon devastation.

He’s good to us in health and wealth.
He’s good to us in the pit of our misery.

While I enjoy the health and wealth part, I also experience the most intimacy with the God of the universe when things are crumbling around me. In our weakness his strength is made known.

A job loss? God is good.
A devastating accident? God is good.
Death? God is good.

No matter the circumstances you find yourself in today, take comfort in knowing that God is good.