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God Is Good and Does Good—Even in Our Pain

George Mueller is one of the saints from church history who has most inspired me to trust God. He’s famous for his work with orphans and his dependence on the Lord in prayer. His autobiography is filled with hundreds of pages of prayers and the record of God’s faithful answers (he reports over 50,000 answers to prayer). He has been the subject of many biographies, and for good reason.

Mueller’s life of faith was characterized by a deep trust in the goodness and sovereignty of his God. He trusted God to provide in ways many would call foolish and presumptive. And yet Mueller never lacked what he needed. God was good to him.

But God’s goodness to Mueller didn’t excuse him from heart-wrenching trials. He suffered the loss of three children, endured seasons of unrelenting physical pain, buried his father without seeing him come to know Christ, and outlived two wives he loved greatly. Mueller’s response to that suffering is a powerful example of gospel hope.

Pain Refines Faith

Pain strips us down, exposing our frailty. When sickness or strife or betrayal or the death of loved ones comes, normal comforts lose their luster. Comfy couches and bursting bank accounts can’t compensate for the sense of dis-ease we experience in suffering. In those dark hours, all we’re left with is the God Almighty.

And it’s there, standing alone with God in that dark place, that we’re forced to wrestle with what we believe about him. If God is good and sovereign, as Mueller believed, why would he permit such suffering in my life?

We don’t often question God’s goodness in days of ease. We easily see his benevolence when the sun shines and flowers bloom. But when wintry woes blow in, God’s goodness seems extinct. Dark clouds turn everything to gray. Cold winds of affliction bite and sting us. Our souls become numb in ways that tempt us to give up and withdraw from everyone, including God. The good news is that even when we doubt, our God holds us fast.

We easily God’s his benevolence when the sun shines and flowers bloom. But when wintry woes blow in, evidence of his goodness seems extinct.

Yet none of us is exempt from suffering. It’s part of this life. Throughout hard times, one particular story from Mueller’s life has long stayed with me as a buoy for my faith.

Mary Mueller’s Death

After 39 years of marriage, Mueller’s first wife, Mary, contracted rheumatic fever, which was a known mortal illness. During the last minutes of Mary’s life, her husband read Psalm 84:11 to her: “The LORD God is a sun and shield: The LORD will give grace and glory. No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (KJV).

Mueller said of the last phrase,

“No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me.

Mary died shortly afterward on February 6, 1870.

Within a few hours of his wife’s death, Mueller went to an evening prayer meeting in Salem Chapel, where he lifted up prayer and praise to his God. Someone in attendance was struck by Mueller’s words and recorded them:

Beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, I ask you to join with me in hearty praise and thanksgiving to my precious Lord for His lovingkindness in having taken my darling, beloved wife out of the pain and suffering which she has endured, into His own presence; and as I rejoice in everything that is for her happiness, so I now rejoice as I realize how far happier she is, in beholding her Lord whom she loved so well, than in any joy she has known or could know here. I ask you also to pray that the Lord will so enable me to have fellowship in her joy that my bereaved heart may be occupied with her blessedness instead of my unspeakable loss.

Mueller’s Powerful Sermon

On February 11, some 1,200 orphans and thousands of grieving friends joined Mueller in mourning at her burial.

After recovering from a bout of his own sickness, Mueller preached her funeral sermon. His text was Psalm 119:68: “You are good and do good.” As he preached, he laid out three simple yet stirring points: “The Lord was good and did good . . .”

1. “in giving her to me . . .”

2. “in so long leaving her to me . . .”

3. “in taking her from me.”

Reflecting later on Mary’s passing, Mueller said, “My heart was at rest, and my heart was satisfied with God. And all this springs . . . from taking God at His Word, believing what He says.”

Do you believe God is good and does good—to you?

There’s no more important question for us to answer in this life. And there’s no more certain truth to rest in during the dark days that are coming or are here even as you read this.

God’s Goodness in the Cross

I know of no better way to settle this matter in your heart than to consider how God has loved us in his Son, Jesus. Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Jesus is the proof that God is good and does good. In Christ, God displayed his goodness by sending his Son to die for our sins and raising him from the grave. God loved us when we were unlovable in the most wonderful of ways.

Jesus is the proof that God is good and does good.

God didn’t spare his own Son, who did him no wrong, so he could spare us, who did him no right. God was against Jesus so he could be for us forever. He was forsaken so we could be forgiven. If God gave us Jesus, what good would he ever withhold from us?

Mueller knew that through the sorrow of grieving loss, there was a sovereign and good hand guiding everything—even the pain.

May God give us grace to believe the same.

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I remember making the comment recently that when I first heard about Biblical counseling and that all that was used was the Bible, thinking "How in the world could a person only use the Bible to actually counsel someone? Seriously?!" Once I started taking the course, I very quickly changed to "How in the world could you use anything other than the Bible?"

Rebecca T.

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