When you read the words, 'God is kind', what's your immediate reaction? Be realistic now. Does it feel true? Or does it feel like an empty sentence?
Our lives will mostly be an inevitable mix of walking high on a mountain top, where nothing feels like it can touch usâfollowed by seasons of walking in valleys with the shadow of death raging upon us, our friends and families.
When our seasons seem to ebb and flow so easily, what relevance does a God who is kind have for us?
God is 'good'
Throughout the Bible we are told of God's goodness and therefore, the works that He does are 'good'. The earth was 'good', we are to give thanks to the Lord, for He is 'good', we are to turn away from evil and do 'good'âbecause He is 'good'.
The word 'good' can take on the familiar tone we associate with the word 'nice'âa slightly lame word and feeling. The statement 'God is good all the time' can lose its lustre. We are prone to thinking that if God was 'good' He'd give us what we asked for. But so often our prayers feel frustrated or ignored.
A friend shared her perspective on God's goodness; 'You know He is good, but it doesn't necessarily feel like it, and we aren't going to see it all the time. You can think He's not there, but He's working in parts of our lives that we don't even know yet.'
Yet, the God who is kind ...?
The cruel death of a loved one, losing a job out of the blue, a devastating relationship break-up, and tragic photos of refugees drowned on foreign beaches. This can often be the reality of our valley seasons. We understand that God might be working all things together for good in those things (as we are told in the Bible), but it seems so far from Him actually being kind. It often ends up feeling the total opposite.
A shift of kindness
I've had a shift in my perspective about God's kindness. Experiencing His kindness showed me that He was willing to go the extra mile on my behalf, over and above His goodness.
It felt like His goodness responded to what I asked and prayed for, but His kindness was next level; He responded over and above what I had asked forâor even what I knew I needed or wanted yet.
Visiting Bethel Church's Healing Rooms in Redding, California, God specifically showed me how incredibly kind He is. A small band played worship music as we entered the room, people danced with bright pieces of fabric (!), and a circle of easels were set up in the middle of the room for artists to paint prophetically. The atmosphere was electric and expectant.
I felt God speak to me clearly; 'I want you to go round and look at the artworks.' Hidden slightly under and behind an easel on the ground was a stunningly beautiful landscapeâa sunset sky of red and blue clouds, with a narrow strip of pale ground at the bottom.
God started to speak to me about the paintingâI knew in my soul that the painting had been created with me in mind and that God had wanted me to see it and connect with me through it. It was like the painting spoke of who He was to me. I felt totally known by God in that moment.
Then I heard the Holy Spirit tell me clearlyâ'I'm going to give you that painting.'
God knows our passions and what we love. He knew that art would connect with my soul. He anticipates not just what we need, but what He wants to bless us with abundant gifts.
We were thousands of miles away from where I grew up in the UK, but the professional artist who painted the piece happened to have grown up near me in the UK, and knew the same people.
Although there were other people who experienced miraculous physical healing that day, I knew that I'd come away with a deep revelation. I realised God never holds anything back from me. He is creative in all of his ways, and He wants to bless me in ways that connect with my heart and my passions.
My limited view was of God just being 'good'âsufficient in providing. Not only did God bless me in the ways that I'd asked (financially and with work opportunities in this season), but this kindness demonstrated His Father's heart for me. We can limit our understanding of what His giving to us looks like, but He doesn't limit his gifts and timing. He is not our earthly Father, He is our Heavenly Father.
God is good because of who He is. But God is kind because He wants relationship with us. He whispers gently to us and He desires to show us His true heart. He doesn't need us, yet He wants us; 'But when the kindness and love of our God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done but because of His mercy.' (Titus chapter 3, verse 4).
And that is His great kindness.
And my response?
As it says in Isaiah chapter 63, verse 7, 'I will tell of the kindness of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised.'
Originally from The Lake District in the UK, Amanda worked in publishing in London and Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries. She's currently spending a six month sabbatical in the mountains of Mammoth Lakes in California adventuring and writing.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html