God's Goodness in Hard Seasons
“Everything about my life feels hard.”
I spoke these words to a friend and I wasn’t being dramatic or seeking to gain her pity. It’s just the reality of living through my husband’s second deployment this year, caring for our six children on my own, and handling the challenges of an unending pandemic. As I chewed on our conversation, I realized that while my words were true, I was fixated on the inevitable challenges of tomorrow. Nothing about tomorrow seemed easy.
I believe God is sovereign. I know he’s holding all things together and I’m comforted to know the secret things belong to the Lord (Colossians 1:17; Deuteronomy 29:29). But when I’m forced to live within circumstances I didn’t ask for, or when good things are taken away, I begin to doubt the bounty of God’s goodness. I might not say it out loud, but my anxious thoughts, clenched jaw, and complaining spirit reveal my unbelief.
Ending the Cycle
Perhaps you can relate.
When God’s sovereignty doesn’t seem to work for our benefit, we question his goodness. We fixate on our difficult circumstances which result in discouragement, disengagement from our relationship with God, and a failure to resist temptation. Satan wants us trapped. He hopes we’ll wallow in our hardship, doubt God’s goodness, and neglect to live in a manner worthy of Christ.
How do we end this cycle?
In Psalm 34, David invites us to break free from wallowing when he exhorts: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (34:8). Our circumstances might not change, but if we fix our eyes and feast our souls on God’s goodness, he can change us.
Here are four ways I’ve experienced the life-changing power of tasting God’s goodness.
Tasting God’s Goodness Moves Us to Worship Him
It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I’m bracing myself for the next difficulty, I often end up with my head in my hands, moaning about my hard-knock life. When we allow our circumstances to defeat us, we’re prone to grow bitter from wallowing in despair.
David calls us to a better attitude: constant worship (Psalm 34:1–3). God’s goodness isn’t dependent upon our circumstances or how we feel about God’s actions. God is good because he says so (Exodus 33:19). He is the source of goodness and the giver of good gifts (James 1:17). Ultimately God gave us Jesus, the physical representation of his goodness (Titus 3:4).
If we’re stuck in the mire of self-pity, we need only take one glance at the cross. For there we see God’s goodness extending to us through the blood of Jesus. His death secured our redemption forever. We need not allow our circumstances to defeat us because Jesus defeated death—the most dreadful circumstance we could ever face.
We will move from wallowing to worship when we behold God’s goodness toward us in Christ.
Tasting God’s Goodness Renews Our Dependence Upon Him
In the midst of ongoing hardship, it’s tempting to think God must be holding out on us. And if he’s as tight-fisted as we think, he must not be trustworthy. So we disengage from God and turn inward. We either try to fix what’s wrong or make ourselves feel better by seeking relief in temporary pleasures.
The moment we think our circumstances are unbearable, we must take our thoughts captive and remember God is our strength and he never grows weary (Isaiah 40:28–29). God enables us to endure trials because he’s working all things out for his glory, and our good (Romans 8:28–29). He uses hardship to produce in us endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3–5).
God isn’t holding out on us. He’s near, he hears us, and he helps us (34:15, 17–18). David’s belief in God motivated his dependency. He sought God in his trouble because he knew God was with him and for him (Psalm 34:6; 1 Samuel 21:10–15).
Our dependence upon God is renewed when we embrace his purpose for us, his nearness to us, and take refuge in him alone (Psalm 34:8,18).
Tasting God’s Goodness Teaches Us How to Live the Good Life
We’ve been duped into believing a good life is free of difficulty and discomfort. We’re encouraged to “live your best life” by living in accordance with our desires. Where do our desires lead us? Our desire for relief leads to grumbling. Our desire for comfort leads to sinful indulgence. Or our desire for control leads to self-reliance. Any desire we fail to submit to the Lord will lead to sin (James 1:14–15).
David pleads with us to see a better way: turn from evil, do good, pursue peace, fear the Lord (34:13–14). All of this is possible because in Christ, we’re new creations (Galatians 5:17). If we’ve tasted God’s goodness in salvation, he increases our craving for more of him (1 Peter 2:2). Our desire for holiness grows. We quit seeking satisfaction apart from Christ. We learn to face every challenge with joy (James 1:2).
Tasting God’s Goodness Transforms Us
On the verge of irritable tears, I asked Alexa to shuffle my favorite playlist. A song about the goodness of Jesus began to play and my heart instantly softened. A single bite of the truth of God’s character changed everything about that moment.
David offers us a glorious hope: “Those who look to him are radiant” (Psalm 34:5).
Instead of being trapped in a cycle of doubt and despair, a transformation occurs as we avert our gaze from our circumstances and fix our eyes on our Savior. If we behold our circumstances we’ll despair, growing anxious, fearful, or angry. If we behold the goodness and glory of God, we will be changed, from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).
And one day, this transformation won’t be a mere collection of moments throughout our days, we will become like Jesus (1 John 3:2). When Jesus returns to make all things new, we will experience his goodness in full. We will taste and see that the Lord is good forever.
Meet the Author
Meet the author: Lauren Washer is a wife, mom of six, and a lifelong student of God’s Word. She’s actively involved in the women’s ministry of her local church through teaching the Bible and leading small groups. She learned how to study the Bible at Columbia International University, where she received a B.S. in Bible and Intercultural Studies. When she’s not playing LEGOs, changing diapers, or helping her older children navigate preteen emotions, she enjoys reading, cooking, and getting a full night of sleep. You can find more of her writing on Instagram or her website.