He Is Always Good

He Is Always Good

Check out Part 1 in this Easter reflections series.

Continuing with the theme of Easter music and Andrew Peterson, the next song I want to discuss from his new EP, “Resurrection Letters: A Prologue,” is titled “Always Good.” The story behind this song is heartbreaking, but also a beautiful picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Church providing divine comfort and peace, and bearing the burdens of a grieving brother. Andrew recounts the story in a blog post at The Rabbit Room.

“Last year a good friend of mine lost his wife just hours after she gave birth to their first child. My sons were at the hospital when he went into the room to see her body before they took it away. He saw her and cried out in agony, ‘Always good! Always good! God is always good.’ It was a cry that came from a place of profound faith, as if he were trying to convince himself, and yet the words were utterly true—even in the face of unimaginable pain.

That weekend I wrote the song and had the honor of singing it at the funeral. When I sang it in the studio I imagined how hard it would have been to believe in God’s goodness as darkness covered the earth and Jesus’s body hung limply from the cross.”

The song begins with:

Do you remember how Mary was grieving?
How you wept and she fell at your feet?
If it’s true that you know what I’m feeling
Could it be that you’re weeping with me?

Arise, O Lord, and save me
There’s nowhere else to go

This verse references back to the death of Lazarus, when Jesus intentionally waited two days to go be with his dear friends Mary and Martha after he heard that their brother was on his deathbed. When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Mary was racked with grief. Her brother had been dead for four days, and Jesus was too late to save him. Jesus knew why He had waited to come, and he knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet seeing his dear friend in so much pain caused him to weep right along with her. From Mary’s perspective, it was the worst thing that could have happened. Her brother was dead, and she knew that if only Jesus had been their sooner, He could have healed him. She couldn’t see the purpose of the terrible thing that had happened. Only God could reveal that to her.

With that picture in mind, of Jesus, the Son of God, entering into and experiencing that same pain and sorrow that Mary was feeling; Peterson asks, “If it’s true that you know what I’m feeling, could it be that you’re weeping with me?” The answer is yes, of course. We see in the gospels that Jesus was not unaffected by the darkness and pain of this world. In many instances he his grieved by the multitudes that he sees yearning for some kind of healing or blessing from the promised Messiah. He stands at the outskirts of Jerusalem and laments, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” There is nothing God loves more than his children, and he is able to perfectly empathize with their pain.

This verse leads into the first chorus:

You’re always good
Always good
Somehow this sorrow
Is shaping my heart like it should
And you’re always good
Always good

Here we see the same phrase repeated by the man in the story who had just lost his wife. Like David recognizing the pain and suffering of the righteous while the wicked prosper, but always remembering that God is good and his justice is perfect and He cares for those He loves. Often all we are left to say in the heat of tragedy is that, “Somehow this sorrow is shaping my heart like it should.” God is sovereign, the pain is real and it hurts, but God is always good.

In the second verse we hear:

It’s so hard to know what you’re doing
Why won’t you tell it all plain?
But you said you’d come back on the third day
And Peter missed it again and again

So maybe the answer surrounds us
And we don’t have eyes to see

We see again the confusion that we creatures experience when we can’t comprehend the plans of our creator. We often demand that God explain himself, because we just can’t understand how anything good could come from such a terrible experience. Then we’re reminded of the multiple instances of Jesus plainly telling his disciples what would happen to him at the hands of the Pharisees and the Romans, yet they never fully grasped what He meant. Jesus also told his disciples that the people could not interpret the true meaning of His parables because they lacked ears to hear and eyes to see. As I mentioned in the previous post, knowledge and wisdom, belief and faith are given to us by God.

The second chorus is a bit different:

That you’re always good
Always good
This heartache is moving me closer
Than joy ever could
And you’re always good

We hear the same declaration that God is always good, but this chorus also reminds us of one of the purposes of suffering. God uses suffering to remind us of our dependence upon Him for our ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment. It’s often difficult to remember the faithfulness and obedience required of us when our lives are nothing but joyful glee. We are prone to wander and leave the God we love when all of our material and relational needs are met. God knows however, that what we need to be truly happy and full of joy is a relationship with Him. It’s what we were created for.

Finally we reach the bridge and final chorus:

My God, my God, be near me
There’s nowhere else to go
And Lord, if you can hear me
Please help your child to know

That you’re always good
Always good
As we try to believe
What is not meant to be understood
Will you help us to trust
Your intentions for us are still good
‘Cause you laid down your life
And you suffered like I never could
You’re always good

Here we have a plea to God that He would make His presence felt, and remind us of the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Ultimately we can trust that God’s intentions for us are indeed good, because, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ took upon himself the full wrath of God, a pain that we can never fully comprehend, to seal the victory over sin and death so that His sheep could be safely gathered into His sheepfold.

Here is the full song if you want to give it a listen.