I miss Africa.
"God is good!" We would shout.
"All the time!" The children we were teaching would reply. "And all the time...?" They would ask with teasing grins.
"God is good!" We would affirm again.
Here in America, no one seems to understand that. It's not just that they aren't used to the call and response method of learning and remembering and singing in Africa, but we really don't understand the goodness of the Lord.
We should. Of all people, we should understand the goodness that we are rolling in, drowning in, but we hang our heads in self pity and ask when the Lord will finally answer our prayers for blessing rather than giving us hardship.
My little munchkins in Africa, bodies gripped by AIDS and malnutrition, never once complained (though I'm sure they had their moments too). Instead, they took every opportunity to rejoice in God's goodness, noticing the small treasures of life that I overlook every day. And when we shouted, "God is good!" they never hesitated in their response. Yet sometimes we do.
I did this past week. I did when the walls of life seemed to be crashing in around me, when my spirit was spiritually crushed, and people were dying the world over without Christ, and my Dad was in the hospital because of a near fatal heart attack, and suddenly God didn't seem sovereign anymore - let alone good.
But through the fear and the tears and the pain and the confusion and the one million "why's?" of life, He is still good. All the time. And He doesn't have to prove it for us to believe it, but He loves us so much that when we cry out in desperation, "Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!" He does. He showers of with grace that reminds us of His goodness.
And when home is 2,000 miles away and you wish you were there with familiar faces and voices to give thanks on a day set aside, and yet the bank account is unforgiving and un-giving, and Skype only makes you feel farther away, He is good. All the time. And friends rally around, names unknown, and organize an operation of love to send you home, and the burden lifted lets you breathe, and you breathe thanksgiving.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good."
We only need this one reason to give thanks, and in the affirming of the truth itself is our greatest worship - our greatest thanks-giving. Giving to Him praise and honour and power and glory and blessing due His great, good Name.
I'll be gone this next week. Spending time with the family - the family God has granted and kept for another season. But look around. Give thanks. For the big things and the small things, the joy and the pain, the ease and the difficulty. Because all is given by His hand. All is grace, and all is good.
Because He is good.
All the time.