Doubting the goodness of God
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:16-17 (ESV)
Kent Hughes, in his commentary in the Book of James writes, “It is impossible to walk with God if we question his goodness.” But believers can do this very thing. We can attempt to walk with God while we question his goodness. It was so with the readers James was addressing. They were suffering severe persecution because of their faith in Christ. This persecution was causing many of them to be disappointed in and angry with God. A good God would not allow bad things to happen to His people! Doubt of God’s goodness is as old as the human race. This was how Satan deceived Adam and Eve. Camouflaged as a serpent, came to the Garden of Eden and approached Eve: ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). He was casting doubt on the goodness of God as if he was saying, ‘Is it really true that God does not allow you to eat of all the trees of the garden?’ The implication, of course, was that if God was truly good, He would have allowed them to eat of all the trees without any exception. Satan has never given up on this method of deception of questioning the goodness of God. Sickness comes, a loved one dies, friends fail, conflict comes; and Satan creeps up to say, ‘If God were really good, you wouldn’t be going through this.” Satan not only uses the presence of difficulty but also the absence of some blessing as his way of deception: “If God were really good, you would have this thing or that.” James very much aware of Satan’s tactics addressed his readers, ‘Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers’ (v. 16). He essentially says, “You must not let Satan deceive you about the goodness of God as he deceived Adam and Eve so long ago.” Any time we doubt the goodness of God, we are falling prey to Satan’s tricks. We are deceived! With that in place, James offered resounding affirmations about the goodness of God. He called on them to make an inventory as if he was saying, “Look around you. What do you call “good”? Make no mistake about it. If you call anything “good”, it comes from God.’ The same thing with us applies. What do we call ‘good’? Good health, family, strong friendship, freedom, the smile of a child, and whatever the beauty of the wonderful creation around? These all come from God and all the thousands of other things, too! James’s assertion! And if it comes from God, there is no good that comes from any source other than God! It was this realization that led Asaph after he admitted he was becoming disillusioned of the inequalities he was seeing around him. In his prayer, he said to the Lord, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (Psalms 73:25).