(Join me in reading Enuma Okoro's Silence -and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent.) Why is it so difficult to grab hold of God's goodness? I think there are many qualities of God's character that seem more intuitive than His goodness: His power, His wisdom, even His sovereign control of this spinning planet.
But His goodness?
Or maybe it's less that I doubt His goodness and more that I sense my unworthiness of it. How can God be good to me?
"Sometimes, when God offers a word, vision, or dream that seems too good to be true, we require a lot to believe it," writes Okoro, referencing Zechariah's disbelief at the angel's announcement. "It is almost as though we have conditioned ourselves to have little or no expectations of divine generosity extended toward us."
What conditions us to disbelieve God's goodness? Is it our losses and disappointments that testify against God's goodness? Is it the cruelty of others that erodes our willingness to believe in goodness? Is it the portrait of the angry, capricious God of judgement, which has been unfairly painted for us somewhere in our history of pews and Sunday school, that has erased the potential for seeing His benevolent love?
Where is the locus of doubt? Why all the misgivings?
And what is the result of doubting that goodness?
Maybe we pray less, ask less, expect less.
Maybe we fall into patterns of self-reliance rather than trusting dependence.
Maybe we can't receive the good God gives with hearts of gratitude.
Maybe we're never fully convinced of God's presence in life's joys.
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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?" Romans 8:32
Advent extends to us an invitation to believe: the God who sent Jesus is generous.