Why do I give thanks? While there are many things, people, and circumstances for which I am thankful, 1 Chronicles 16:34 provides the most essential reason of all when the author declares, “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good…” So why should we express gratitude for God’s goodness above anything else? Simply because God’s goodness is the foundational attribute underlying all other things for which we give thanks. A.W. Tozer explains in The Knowledge of the Holy, “The goodness of God is the drive behind all the blessings He daily bestows upon us. God created us because He felt good in His heart and He redeemed us for the same reason.” We would enjoy no other gifts, relationships, or experiences if God were not first of all good. Because of God’s goodness, I am comforted and not fearful of the remarkable power He wields over all of creation. I am encouraged rather than uneasy at His intimate knowledge of my every thought.
What does it mean to say that God is good? The Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 16:2, “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’” Goodness itself cannot be defined without first looking to God. All that He says, does, and is reflects His goodness. Tracing the movement of His hand throughout history reveals a picture of His good plan and redemptive story that began unfolding at the first sinful act of man. I heard it said recently that the Christian faith is unique because we worship a God who, because of His goodness, became the solution to mankind’s biggest problem. No other religion offers a deity who embodies that kind of self-sacrificial goodness. He was under no obligation to offer Himself up for us, except that He was compelled by His kindness and benevolent nature to do so.
Even creation itself reveals His goodness as He generously surrounds us with amazing treasures that delight our senses and leave us in awe of our Creator. He thrills us with the brilliance of the starry heavens that span across the horizon as far as our eyes can see. He lavishes us with the refreshing fragrance of the rain following an unexpected summer storm. He provides the sweetness of a freshly picked piece of fruit to satisfy our hunger. He entertains us with the melodious songs of birds to awaken us in the morning. He shines the luminescent glow of the sun on our faces to remind us of the warmth of His love. Only a good God would do such things.
Psalm 34:8 instructs us to “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” Goodness is not just a descriptor of how He is; it’s who He is. As humans who reflect the image of God, we can be good for a time, but our imperfect nature eventually claws its way to the surface. In contrast, God is only ever good. God is good because that’s who He is. I am sometimes good because of His Holy Spirit living in me. I can be a good parent for a while, but eventually I’ll lose my temper over some act of childish misbehavior. I can be a good friend temporarily, but at some point I’ll respond selfishly and let my closest companions down. I can be a good citizen for a time, until I’m cut off in traffic or beaten in line for some awesomely amazing Black Friday deal! I can be a good wife for the short term, but I’ll inevitably say something unkind at the end of a stressful day. A.W. Tozer continues in The Knowledge of the Holy, “Divine goodness, as one of God’s attributes, is self-caused, infinite, perfect, and eternal. Since God is immutable He never varies in the intensity of His loving-kindness. He has never been kinder than He now is, nor will He ever be less kind.” What a comforting thought to know that He is so unlike me, and is always only good!
Psalms 23:6 says, “Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD as long as I live.” God’s goodness compels Him to pursue me, allowing me to reap the benefits of a life lived in relationship with Him. His pursuit of me has been relentless no matter where my spiritual journey has taken me. Sometimes He quietly tiptoes up behind me, astonishing me with some extravagant, over-the-top act of goodness. Other times He’s the Good Shepherd who sees me wandering aimlessly into danger and brings me back into the fold for my own protection. At all times He’s my patient Heavenly Father who cradles my hand in His and guides me along the good path. Where else can we find that kind of goodness except in our God?
Because I am confident that God is always only good, I can be thankful no matter the circumstance. On both dreadfully dark nights and breathtakingly bright days I know that I have a Heavenly Father working His good purposes in my life (Romans 8:28). I’m thankful for each breath I breathe, but I know that even if I never drew another breath, God would still be good. I’m thankful for the roof over my head, but I know that if it were to disastrously disappear, God would still be good. I’m thankful for my daily provision of food, but I know that I don’t live by bread alone, and if I were to go hungry, God would still be good. I’m also thankful for my family, my church, my job, my friends, and all things big and small that God provides on a moment by moment, hour by hour, and day by day basis. Apart from all that, however, is God’s goodness. We cannot truly appreciate the good gifts we receive from God’s hand without first understanding how He Himself is good, and giving thanks for that above all.