When prayers are answered, I often hear people say, "X happened! God is so good!" Or "X happened! God is so kind!"
I'll be honest, sometimes it hurts to hear this. As someone who has gone through a terrible loss and many unanswered prayers, it surfaces the nagging questions: Is God good to me? Has God been kind to me?
I recognize that there is a long list of blessings in my life that could be used as evidence that the answer is yes. I am healthy. I have a home, plenty of food and abundant clean water. I have a job that is meaningful and provides more than adequately for my needs. I have a child - an answer to so much prayer. I have a family who loves me. I live in the wealthiest country in the world and have access to medical care, quality education and so much more. I could go on and on.
But are blessings and gifts really the litmus test of God's goodness? Is God's kindness found in answered prayers? If so, that's a problem because I have another list that paints a different picture.
My fiancé collapsed and suffered multiple cardiac arrests at the age of 21. My life forever changed the day I watched him be life-flighted to a city 3 hours away. For years I lived with crippling anxiety because my husband could have a cardiac arrest at any moment and the device in his chest might not save him the next time. At 24, I watched my husband go through an unnecessary open heart surgery due to misdiagnosis and became a caretaker for the first time.
Depression and anxiety stole joy from our lives. My prayers that God would heal him were not answered. A life-saving transplant left emotional and physical scars with new fears and limitations. Life was never the same; my husband was never the same. I prayed for a decade that God would eradicate depression from my husband's soul but he didn't. I prayed that my husband would live to watch our son grow to adulthood, but he died when our boy was the tender age of 6. I was widowed during a global pandemic at age 35.
So is God good? Is He kind? Do I have evidence that he has been good and kind to me?
Yes, but not because of answered prayers and happy circumstances. When we look at those things for evidence of God's goodness, we are looking in the wrong place.
God isn't good to some and cruel to others. He isn't good when your child's cancer goes into remission but bad when I bury my husband. He isn't good when we ace the test but unkind if our parents divorce. He isn't good to me because I am a widow in a country with freedom and opportunities but unkind to widows who have no way to provide for their children and no one to defend them.
His goodness is found in who He is. His goodness transcends time and circumstances.
He is the good One who faithfully cares for all of His creation: he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
He is good and He hates wickedness (Psalm 5:5). He is good and He is just (Deuteronomy 32:4). He is good and He sees and will punish all unrighteousness (Isaiah 13:11). He is kind and He has mercy on us (Ephesians 2:4-5). He is good and He has made a way for us to know Him (Luke 19:10). He is kind and He loves us even when we are His enemies (Romans 5:8). He is good and He has defeated death (2 Timothy 1:10). He is good and we no longer have to be afraid because there is hope of eternal life with Him (John 11:25-26).
My life, and I imagine yours as well, has been full of blessings and suffering. It's been full of prayers that have been answered with yes and others that were answered with no. These things do not define who God is. The abundant evidence of His goodness and kindness to you and me is found elsewhere.