I have never much liked the low church liturgy wherein the worship leader says, “God is good,” and the people respond, “all the time.” The leader then repeats, “All the time,” and the people say, “God is good.”
In the high churches the liturgist says, “In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,” and the people respond, “Good Lord, deliver us.”
It may be nothing more than a matter of opinion, but I find the first litany to be trite as much as it may be true. I find the second speaking into the reality of our lives. Maybe it’s just me.
In fact, God is good. All the time. And we must beseech his deliverance in all times of tribulation and of prosperity.
As the old year ends and the new year begins, we reflect on things just past and wonder about things soon to come. Christians both reflect and wonder in the light of God’s goodness and our need for deliverance. All the time.
We were reminded of God’s goodness and our need for deliverance in a Christmas letter from a friend we now know mostly through Christmas letters. Apparently, we did not receive a letter last year, for this year’s told the story of 18 months of catastrophic health issues. Catastrophic is the best word I can find to describe what our friend has suffered and is suffering. The story was told without an ounce of self-pity. It is not our story to tell – and I won’t tell it, other than to say I was struck by the last word written before they went on to tell of other and happier family news. “We may not understand, but we can trust him.”
Our friend is able to say “God is good” only because she trusts him as deliverer. She can say “all the time” only because, in the midst of things catastrophically not good, the eyes of her heart have been so enlightened, that she knows what is the hope to which God has called her, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe in the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:18-19)
As 2022 ends and as 2023 begins, I will do my share of reflecting and wondering. I will do well to avoid the headlines of the past year as I reflect or my plans for the new year as I wonder. Rather, as I reflect and wonder I must remember that God is good (all the time, even when times are bad). I need to remember my own need for a deliverer both in times of tribulation and in times of prosperity.
I won’t do it, at least not on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, but it might be better if we wished one another God’s gracious deliverance rather than happiness in the new year. As our friend wrote, we can trust him.