God is Good
False narrative: God is an angry God waiting to punish people for their sins. When something bad happens to you, it is because God is punishing you for your sin.
True narrative: Good things happen to both bad and good people. It is not true that only sinners are punished and only good people are blessed. Jesus never said this, and we can see from the lives around us that it is false.
However, God is just and fair. There are some blessings that are only given to people who try to do good (they are honest and faithful; they love and serve). (The book calls these “the good things peculiar to the good.”) For example, on pg 47, the two pastors who are loved by the people that they serve.
God says people who do good will experience joy and peace. Selfish, mean people may not be punished for their actions, but they will experience deep guilt, loneliness, regret and self-hatred.
We may not see God’s justice in this life, but someday we will understand.
Jesus has experienced suffering, and can understand what we are going through. When we can’t believe in God because we are suffering so much, Jesus believes for us, and prays for us. Because we have the promise of heaven, we can have hope.
We should expect to go through suffering and pain and loss, just because we are human. Also, we grow through suffering. (James 1:2-4) Even if we can’t feel joy in our suffering, we can trust God in the midst.
Questions in the chapter:
1) Have you ever been through something that made you doubt God’s goodness? If you have, describe what happened and how you felt.
2) It is important for us to believe what Jesus believed about God. Do you think this is true?
3) “God is an angry judge. If you do well, you will be blessed. If you sin, you will be punished.” Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
4) Have you ever wondered when and why God would punish you for a particular sin? Or have you ever had something bad happen to you and wondered what you did to deserve it? Explain.
5) When you see someone else suffering, have you ever wondered what they did to deserve it? Why do you think this is a common response?
6) Name some of the good consequences (character, feelings, reputation) that are part of the lives of people who do good things.
Soul Training: Silence and Awareness of Creation
1) Find five minutes a day to sit and be quiet.
2) Take a walk outside, hopefully somewhere beautiful and filled with nature . Think of God as an artist and yourself as an art student, pay attention to everything, and write down what you see and experience.