“The Rest of the Story….”

Photo Mar 27, 11 09 03 AMAfter coming here to Africa a year and a half ago, I heard something in the African church that I haven’t heard very often since my days in high school youth group. Perhaps you can help me remember how it goes:

God is good
All the time
All the time
God is good

This is supposed to cheer us up and put a smile on our face. It is meant to pep up the congregation. It is biblical. Psalm 136:1 reads, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever.” A truer statement was never made. The problem is, it doesn’t always feel true.

Is God good when things in your life are so chaotic, and it just hurts so bad for days, weeks, or maybe months on end? Many of us have had the experience of wondering if God is even there at all. Or, you’re convinced God is there. At best, you’re confused; at worst, you’re just not sure God is for you.

When I was younger, people actually listened to the radio, especially in the car. I certainly don’t do that anymore. (I remember how cool I thought it was when they started putting that little audio jack in the front of the car stereo system so you could plug your phone or mp3 player into the car speakers.)

One of my favorite radio programs wasn’t music at all. It was a short biographical spot by a man by the name of Paul Harvey about some famous historical figure, past and present. What made his program so great was that he told the story in such a way that you didn’t know who he was talking about until the very end. Then all the details made sense. He often used the person’s nickname or childhood name so you wouldn’t automatically figure out who he was talking about. Many of the stories were rags-to-riches stories or testimonies of people who had gone through very difficult times before rising to fame or stardom. He gave you the backstory that you never knew. And he always finished his broadcast in his slow, deliberate speech pattern with, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

Let’s see if I can’t do a bit of the same for you:

(1) Abe trusted God. He’d tried to be obedient when he felt God was leading him to take up an new international post. But was God good when his wife was taken from him?

(2) Joey was cocky in his youth and it got him in trouble. Still, he trusted God. But was God good when he got framed at work, fell out with his boss and got put in prison?

(3) Haddie was forced to marry a man she hardly knew and who didn’t share her faith in God. At least he was rich and powerful. Still, she was afraid of her husband, and she kept lots of secrets. What was she supposed to do when her husband’s right-hand man wanted to destroy everything that was important to her? Was God still good?

(4) You might call them the Three Musketeers. They were best friends and had made quite a name for themselves. But they took a stand. You might call it “civil disobedience”. They hadn’t killed anyone. They just stood up for what they felt was right in God’s eyes. Their punishment turned out to be more than a slap on the wrist. They were put on death row. Was God still good?

(5) Dan had risen the ranks to power, and he’d done it with a clean conscience. He’d gotten to where he was because his boss knew he could trust him. People respected him, but they didn’t quite understand him. What was it that made him tick? His co-workers had had to wheel and deal and cheat and steal to get where they were, and they resented Dan. They finally got their chance to “toss him to the lions.” Was God still good? Had he trusted God for naught?

These character stories might have been more difficult to decipher if I wasn’t giving a chapel message at a Christian boarding school for missionary kids. These stories describe some pretty grim and hopeless situations. But you grew up with these characters, and you already know the rest of the story and how things turn out–God wins!

Then I could go on to tell you about Josh. Josh was a good kid. They say he didn’t even cry when he was a baby. (Okay, maybe that one is a little too obvious.) But think of our Lord. Was God good when Jesus, his only son, hung dying on the cross. Jesus even screamed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Psalm he is quoting from the cross continues, “Why (God) are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”  Sounds pretty hopeless, right? Is God good?

Well, even the Psalm (22) that Jesus was quoting changes tunes. It goes on to say, “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried out to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.” And of course, Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate testimony of God’s goodness and proof that HE wins.

Some of you have amazing testimonies of how God brought you through some seemingly hopeless situations. Some of you will go through some pretty dark valleys, and it will seem like there’s no hope in sight. And some of you, now, are going through that abyss and you’re tempted to question the goodness of God.

Now is the time to remind yourself that:

God is good
All the time
All the time
God is good

Remember: God wins!

Answers: (1) Abraham, (2) Joseph, (3) Esther, (4) Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, (5) Daniel

This chapel message was shared with the RVA student body on February 6, 2015.

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