Tom Gilson

Not long ago I wrote a post titled “God is Still Good,” about the report I had received that I had a torn tendon in my foot–the same tendon that I’d had surgically repaired last February. What I hadn’t mentioned here was that just over a week ago I got a second opinion that made it clear the first opinion was nuts–the MRI did not reveal any tearing at all. I was greatly relieved to find out surgery wouldn’t be necessary after all.

But that didn’t take away the limp or the pain that had caused me to go back to the doctor about it last month. So yesterday I saw a super-specialist, you might call him, who said that even though there’s no tear in that tendon, it looks very enlarged and wrong on the MRI. It’s hard to interpret what’s really going on in it, he said, but since it hasn’t been healing it would be best for him to go in there again, eyeball it to find out what’s the matter, and “revise the tendon,” as he so delicately put it.

That’s the short version of a long conversation. I think he’s probably right. Of course I’m getting yet another opinion before I let even a super-specialist do surgery when he doesn’t know what’s wrong. But chances are surgery is going back on the schedule for me again this fall.

I wrote “God is still good” when I first thought I was going to need surgery again. I thanked God when I found out otherwise. I admit to being shocked and disappointed to find out other-otherwise yesterday, but I’m still thanking God for his goodness.

It’s way too easy for us to get mixed up over what God’s goodness really is. He is good all the time, but he is not always (dare I say it this way?) easy to get along with. He gives; he does not pamper. Goodness in God’s eyes is not a matter of comfort but of character. His goodness looks far beyond the moment into eternity, far beyond the individual to all of creation.

Our view is foreshortened in time and tunneled off in space. Faith affirms what sight cannot confirm; but this is not blind faith. We have ample evidence of God’s goodness in Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, who demonstrated God’s goodness in a human life. He spoke truth with compassion. He healed the sick and proclaimed good news of God’s kingdom. He loved. He gave. He sacrificed himself for us. The power of his goodness, and the goodness of his power defeated the darkest evil, death itself.

Goodness is guaranteed in God. Comprehensibility is not. If God were in fact within reach of human understanding, he would no longer be God. If we could figure God out, then we could no longer worship him, he would worship us instead! I say that with no fear of sacrilege, for what I have imagined here is immeasurably far beyond possibility–so far that it was wrong (false, thoroughly inaccurate) for me even to say I had imagined it. We cannot imagine a state of affairs such as this. God is forever infinitely beyond us.

And yet we can know that he is good, because he has shown himself to be good in Jesus Christ.

This has been a very challenging summer. I don’t claim to understand why it has all gone the way it has, or why I’m facing further health problems. I do know that my health issues are small, a mere gnat, compared to some others’. I hope I have not been insensitive to those who are facing real problems.

But comparison is not the point; or rather, we should be careful to choose our comparisons wisely. Next to God’s goodness, all of our problems are small, for if we will trust him to do so, he will wrap them all up in his infinite grace and turn them around for our eternal good.

The apostle Paul said it this way (Romans 8:18): “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

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1 thought on “God Is Still Good

  1. @Tom Gilson:

    Great post; thanks.

    At several points when reading your post I thought “good point; I will expand on it, by saying this and that”; for a brief spell, I even had a vision of scavenging the Bible, the Desert Fathers or St. John of the Cross’s “Dark Night of the Soul” for pithy quotes, as my continuous readings of them have deeply shaped my thought about these issues. But in the end I just gave up. The theme of personal loss (and a debilitating disease is such a thing) and how it relates to God and informs our relationship with Him has always been one of my central preoccupations (or as T. S. Eliott puts it in Ash Wednesday “These matters that with myself I too much discuss / Too much explain”. These two lines are preceded by “And pray to God to have mercy upon us / And pray that I may forget”…), but is also one of those issues for which, for a number of personal reasons which are of no concern to anyone but myself, I tend to shun reasoned discourse and choose Silence instead.

    All these barely coherent ramblings to say: may God in His infinite mercy give you the strength and courage to endure these difficult times.

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