Hab. 3:17-19 17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
When we look at the circumstances of our life, we very often can become discouraged. We ask ourselves â€śHow can God be good? Why is there so much pain and suffering if God is good?â€ť
We make the mistake of thinking that God is like his creation. With created things, we look at the object or circumstances and make a value judgment. We declare something to be good or bad by comparing it logically to a standard of good.
The logical argument runs like this: â€śGood apples are crunchy â€śThis apple has the texture of wet cardboard â€śThis apple is not goodâ€ť
We do the same with people that we meet. â€śAll good people are kind and loving. â€śThis person is kind and loving. â€śTherefore, this person is good.â€ť
This type of argument in itself is a good one, and valuable for discernment, assuming that the premise is defined biblically. But when we attempt to use this argument to determine the goodness of God, it falls flat, for God is not a creature. There is nothing higher than God to which he can be compared (Isa. 40:25). â€śGoodnessâ€ť then is not a standard that lies outside of God to which he can be compared, but is identical to God himself, for â€śGod is goodâ€ť.
The logical argument used by the atheist runs something like this.
Good gods do not wish their creatures to suffer evil. Powerful gods will act to prevent evil. There is evil in the world. Therefore, God is either not good, and wishes his people harm; or he is not powerful, and is unable to prevent it.
We will assume as fact the minor premise. There is indeed evil in the world, and no Christian would deny it. No informed Christian would claim that this is "The best of all possible worlds", for there is one far greater that is to come.
We confess that God is almighty. We deny the modern theologiansâ€™ argument that God would never interfere with manâ€™s free will for this thought denies the sovereignty of God and is foreign to scripture. It also does not solve the problem. Suppose a man unlawfully enters my home intending harm to my family. I am able to stop it but chose not to out of respect for that criminalâ€™s free will. How can I be called â€śgoodâ€ť? Would not even human courts find me criminally negligent?
So our God does whatever he pleases. He even turns and thwarts manâ€™s will. How then can this be squared with the existence of evil? The atheist then responds to us that we have a God who is not good. Many times even as Christians we struggle with Godâ€™s goodness and love. Is God there? We know he can prevent suffering, so why doesnâ€™t he?
The bible gives us two answers: First, the history of Godâ€™s redeeming acts on behalf of His people clearly shows that he is good, and that he loves his people with an everlasting love. God repeatedly brought to Israelâ€™s memory his goodness and kindness towards them, primarily in their deliverance from Egypt.
Mic. 6:3-5 3 O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. 4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.
But the deliverance from Egypt was merely a picture from history of Godâ€™s true and greatest act of redemption. The ultimate show of Godâ€™s love and goodness is in His Only Begotten Son.
Jn. 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Rom. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
In Christ alone God has shown his love and kindness. There is no other. Outside of Christ, Godâ€™s goodness requires judgment, not blessing. We are all lawbreakers and at war with God. Godâ€™s goodness requires judgment upon his enemies. But in Christ, Godâ€™s goodness and love have been displayed to the whole world. But we who have come to Christ still experience trials, hardship, cruelty and seemingly random acts of violence. How does the scriptureâ€™s teaching of Godâ€™s goodness square with our experience, especially when we are in Christ. This brings us to the passage in Habakkuk. Godâ€™s goodness is not a conclusion at the end of a logical argument, for this would make him a creature â€“ subject to laws outside of Himself. Rather, Godâ€™s goodness is the unquestionable first premise from which the entire argument proceeds. To clarify, look again at the atheistâ€™s argument against God from the existence of evil: Good gods do not want their people to suffer. Powerful gods act to prevent suffering. There is evil and suffering. Therefore God is either not good, or not powerful. Now letâ€™s reword this from the biblical perspective. Premise 1 and 2 are undeniably true, and taught to us by God himself through His Word and Spirit.
God is good. God is powerful. There is evil in the world. Therefore, God has a purpose and a plan that we are not privy to, but it will be good and it will indeed come to pass, for he is able to do it, being almighty God, and willing also, being our faithful father.
Rom. 8:28 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For Habakkuk, Godâ€™s goodness was celebrated. Habakkuk could take joy even in the midst of the most severe difficulties, because he knew that even though he didnâ€™t see Godâ€™s purpose in the sufferings to come, God was still good, and he was still powerful. Therefore whatever God brought to pass would be good for Godâ€™s people.
Godâ€™s promises could be completely trusted, even when the way was dark. God would provide strength and joy in his own time. Habakkuk could rejoice in this, and so can we.