by Lindsay Schlegel
At this point in Lent, we’re feeling “it”—either the lack of the indulgences we had come to allow ourselves in the season of Ordinary Time or the “failure” of finding fruit in our Lenten practices (which may have already lapsed, if they ever got started).
What strikes me about the readings today? They are decidedly not about us—not our efforts or the fruits of our labor. Rather, right smack in the middle of this penitential season, when we are called to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we are reminded with gentleness but all certainty of God’s goodness.
The Goodness of God
In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, “we have peace with God…[and] we boast in the hope of the glory of God,”—this is a hope that “does not disappoint.”
St. Paul writes with conviction. Unlike the people in the first reading, who grumbled against God for a turn of events they couldn’t understand, St. Paul knows the end of the story. Christ’s victory is sure.
We are encouraged to have faith and live in this conviction and certainty. In the Psalm, we hear God’s voice reveal that those in Meribah and Massah “tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.”
How often do I do the same thing? I have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord. He has blessed me time and again, in ways that were apparent right away and in ways that took me some time to comprehend.
And yet sometimes, I still wonder. Is this God all that He says He is? Will He provide for me?
Can I Trust Him?
I am reminded of one of my favorite worship songs, “Who I Am,” by Casting Crowns. The refrain goes like this:
Not because of who I am,
But because of what you’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done,
But because of who you are.
I think St. Paul could get behind these lyrics in a big way. It’s not about us, about what we can give the Lord. It’s about surrendering to what He’s given us.
But that’s not always easy. Too often, my prayer is a series of suggestions for the Lord, to which I am expecting His enthusiastic stamp of approval.
Maybe this person doesn’t need to be healed in the way I anticipate, or this relationship isn’t going to be reconciled on my timeline. Perhaps the places I’m looking for God aren’t the places He intends to have me find Him.
It can feel like there’s a lot we don’t know about God, but this much is undoubtedly true: He is good. He doesn’t think, speaks, or act as we might, but He is good.
Do You Need God to Be Safe?
Another quote comes to mind (quotes are kind of my thing), this one from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. In this scene, Mr. Beaver is telling the children about Aslan, the lion who (they’ve not realized) is a symbol of Christ.
Susan is scared to learn that Aslan is a lion. They’re going to have to interact with him, and she wants to know if he’s safe.
Mr. Beaver replies, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (So good, right? No wonder I have it on a mug reserved for my kid’s hot chocolate!)
It poses an important question to us, even as adults: do we need God to be safe? Do we expect Him to fall in line with our expectations? If He asks something of us that we don’t anticipate, can we trust Him?
Ideally, the answer would be a resounding yes—a fiat, if you will. Because even if it doesn’t feel safe to follow Christ, even if it doesn’t look like we thought it was going to, God is above all good. We can be sure of that.
Living to Honor the Goodness of God
Certainty in our faith and God’s goodness doesn’t mean we should slacken in our Lenten devotions. It doesn’t mean we should stop seeking to make amends for our sins or sharing the good news with those who need to hear it (and don’t we all, even we believers?).
But it does mean that all our efforts should first and foremost be for His glory. Our personal improvement ought to be a means of honoring Him so that we can better serve Him.
May our hearts stay soft in the goodness of our God, and may we be open to the work He has in store for us in this season of Lent and beyond.
About the author:
Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God who seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift others up to be all they were created to be. Lindsay is a writer, editor, speaker, author, and podcast host. She lives in New Jersey with her family and would love to connect at lindsayschlegel.com.