“For the LORD has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD”
So often it seems that, as I would contemplate verses such as these, the picture I had of the goodness of the Lord captured only what I could see. What I could understand.
It was goodness that was evident in my circumstances.
Goodness wrapped up in things going my way.
But, in His gentle yet powerful way, the Lord is altering my perspective. I recently read a blog post by Jennifer Rothschild (posted here) in which she tells the story of Julie, a young Christian woman from Pakistan who was scarred by a man who threw acid on her. Reading the words of Jennifer’s husband, “She’s so scarred, but so radiant”; seeing Julie’s joy in Christ and her unreserved surrender in going back home—her radiance stirred my heart.
She is beautiful in her scars. Beautiful and radiant and joyful in the midst of a life circumstance that many would view as a tragedy. As I reflected on this, these verses in Jeremiah came to mind, and my perception of radiance over the goodness of the Lord began to shift.
Our Lord is good. He is good and He does good (Psalm 119:68). Let us be careful not to link that resolutely with seeing things play out the way we want them to. They might. Or they might not. But in either case, our God is being good to us. He never ceases in His goodness. He never stops acting for His people. So yes, when things are going well and everyone is healthy and all the pieces are clearly falling into place—God is good. But let us not forget, when life seems to be falling apart instead of together, when we or our loved ones are sick, when we are in a season of pain or loss or difficulty—God is still good. He has not changed. He is good, and He does good, and He is doing good right now, whatever our situation and no matter what we can see.
In Jennifer’s post, we see a young woman who is radiant over the goodness of her Lord. Radiant over her Savior who is with her, who by His blood has ransomed her for God (Revelation 5:9). And in her radiance, she is joyfully traveling back to the country where she received her scars. Knowing it may cost her life. Saying simply, “No matter…If something happens, I will be home with Jesus.”
In this, we see a picture of someone who has set her heart on Christ, not on the things of earth. So easily my heart loses focus. Living in this world, in our society, I start to buy into the lie of what I should want or what my life should look like. And it works itself into my perception of how the goodness of the Lord should exhibit itself in my story.
I want to be radiant over the goodness of my Lord. Not radiant over circumstances that could easily shift. Not radiant over things that would make anyone happy. But radiant because of who my God is.
There are evidences of His goodness that will stand regardless of what season we’re in:
The truth and steadfastness of His Word (Isaiah 40:8, Jeremiah 1:12).
The constancy of His presence and His faithfulness, even when we can’t feel it (Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 125:2) —
because what we “feel” may change, but our God never will (Psalm 102:25-27).
The assurance that He gives us strength for the day and trains us for battle (Deuteronomy 33:25, Psalm 144:1).
The confidence that He will make Himself known to us as a fortress (Psalm 48:3)
The knowledge that our God goes before us and He is our rear guard (Isaiah 52:12)
Most of all, we see His goodness displayed in extravagant love on a cruel cross. In His pursuit of us in our wilderness, our darkness, our sin. In His forgiving every trespass, His canceling of every debt, as He nailed our sins to the cross and triumphed over our enemies and put them to open shame (Colossians 2:13-15).
Our God shows His goodness to us in His covenant, freely made with us by the blood of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:28). A covenant in which He declares that He will never cease to be faithful, He will forgive and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and will present us before Himself holy and blameless, because of His great mercy and for the glory of His name (Jeremiah 32:40-41, 1 John 1:9, Jude 24).
We become radiant over the goodness of the Lord when we fix our eyes on Him and see Him for who He is. Not when things start to go our way, but when we see Him. It is then that we truly behold the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
“Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the LORD.”