God is Good, All the Time

(Below is a talk on faith given to students at Assumption-St. Bridget School in Seattle, WA)
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I used to teach in Birmingham, AL. Who knows where Alabama is? Who has been to Alabama? In Alabama, and in other places around the South, there is a popular saying: "God is good, all the time." If you are a Christian in Alabama, and I said to you, "God is good," you would probably respond back, "All the time." And if I were to say to you, "All the time," you would probably know to say, "God is good."
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Now, this is a nice thing to say, but a very hard thing to feel and believe sometimes. "Really? God is good ALL the time?" How can God be good all the time if my life doesn't seem good all the time? How can God be good all the time if bad things happen to me? Raise your hand if something bad has ever happened to you? I know that I have. I have had people lie about me, gossip about me, try to hurt me. Raise your hand if anyone has ever done these things to you. Now keep them up if you have ever done any of these things to other people. I've done these things. I've treated people poorly, and I have had people treat me poorly. Life is hard. We get hurt by people, we lose people that we love. I know this, I have lost a parent, grandparents. So how I can I stand here and still tell you that God is good all time?
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Well, I was thinking about it, and there are two kinds of bad things that happen to us. Think about this first type - teasing, gossiping, lying. Did God do those things to us? Did God tease me? No. Who did? Us! People, we do these things to each other. Most of the bad things that happen to us are these things that we do to one another, that we do to ourselves. When I was your age, I had a lot of people that I thought were my friends, but they did not treat me very well. And if you surround yourself with people that do not show you respect, that do not show you love, then it can be hard to feel like the world is a very good place. But when I started to realize that there were people that would value me, that would show me love, I started to realize, "Wow, there is a lot of love in the world."
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And that's what God gives us. God gives us that love to show to one another, that's how we face all of the people that don't treat us very well. That's how we know that God loves us, and that God is good. It's hard to tell someone that "God loves you, but I'm going to treat you like you don't matter." And if you feel that love, you want to give it to other people.
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But not every bad thing that happens is done to us by other people. Sometimes, things just happen. About a year ago, I got extremely sick. I couldn't get out of bed, I was dizzy all the time, I would get terrible headaches, and I couldn't work. I am fine now - it turns out that I have severe allergies -but, at the time, it was really scary. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong, and I wasn't in control of what was happening to me. At time's like that, you wonder, "Why is this happening to me?" It's hard to feel like God is with you.
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But what got me through was love. I have a wife who loves me very much, and a family that loves me, and that helped me feel like I was not alone. And my love for them, my need to care for the people that love me, this motivates me to keep going. And where does all of this love come from? It comes from God. God gives it to us, not because we deserve it - we don't "deserve it," especially when we treat each other poorly - but because God loves us, and wants us to show that love to one another.
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And that's how I can stand here and tell you that, "God is good, ALL the time."
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