We recently heard from a friend that the diagnosis was “no cancer.”  My husband responded with a jubilant, “God is good!”  My friend echoed back, “All the time!”  I’ve heard this before and wholeheartedly agree.  But each time I’ve heard this, I’ve wondered, “Do we ever think to say this when something bad happens?”–when cancer has been found or when we are turned down for that much-needed raise or worse. I had never thought to say it, nor had I heard it.

So, this morning, I’m lying in bed wide awake at 3:30.  I’ve been awakened by “Arthur Itis, my old friend,” as old timers will call it, except for me it’s a new “friend”.

Arthritis hit me hard immediately after retiring January 31st.  The first week of February I started cleaning our house with a vengeance because I had allowed dirt and clutter to take up valuable real estate for far too long.  I reevaluated things that I previously felt obligated to keep “just in case” and ruthlessly threw out stuff, and vacuumed and dusted to the point that I’m sure a dust cloud surrounded our house.  Our 20-year old son stayed one step ahead of me, moving his stuff out of the rec room which reminded me of a frat house, as I moved in cleaning.  (I told him that I’d be happy to share the rec room with him, that I only needed half the space for quilting.  He didn’t buy that.)

The result was that I began to see the wood surface of my desk and no longer had a little pig path to get from point A to point B in our office/library/sewing/craft room and I quickly became incredibly sore.  That was to be expected.  After all, for the three years I’d worked in an office I had hardly used those housecleaning muscles.  The second week, I was still incredibly sore, and I hurt mainly at night in bed while trying to sleep.  I moved to a different bed thinking our old bed was to blame.  By the third or fourth week I realized, it wasn’t the bed or the cleaning.

Back to 3:30 a.m., I’m lying in bed wide awake from the pain in my shoulders and hips, and it occurred to me, now’s my chance.  I can say it, “God IS good, ALL the time.”  I’m hurting, I can no longer find that sweet spot in bed, and I know that there is no cure for arthritis, that it can become debilitating, and that at the young age of 57 I may have many years left to endure this “Arthur Itis” and God is good.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking, my pain is nothing compared to cancer, losing a job, or the ultimate pain, watching a child die.  You’re right, it isn’t.  I hope I never have to endure those things, but if I do, I’m practicing now to say, “God is good, all the time.”

He is good and He is loving, and those words are so mild for what He is (Ephesians 3:18-19).  He is good to us when we have cancer, when we lose our jobs whether it’s due to our own actions or not, when our cherished ones die, when our hearts are breaking in pieces and we wish to end it all, He is good.  How do I know this?  Because he says he’ll never leave me nor give up on me (Heb. 13:5) and he hasn’t.  He is compassionate, gracious, patient, forgiving and full of love (Ex. 34:6); I don’t just read that He is those things; I feel those emotions from Him and have those emotions toward others because of Him.  When I’m in pain, whether emotional or physical, I feel His presence and His arms wrapped around me, as a mother hen covers her chicks.  I know He is good because of the beauty around us.  He didn’t have to create the doves that coo in the morning as I wake up or the insects and frogs that serenade us in the evening or the way a child’s skin and hair smells after spending time in the sun or the spring green trees against the blue backdrop of the sky or even the pleasurable sensation of making love to one’s spouse.  We all know from science fiction that God could have made our surroundings and even how we procreate vastly different from the way He did.  He’s given us good things, because He is good.  Top that off with the fact that Jesus, the Son, laid down His life for me and God the Father had to watch His own Son endure that excruciating pain for me.

That’s how I know God is good.  All the time.