The good life is as sure as God himself. Therefore the pursuit of a life revelling in goodness is the life in pursuit of God. This is why Christians make so much of Jesus: Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and he told us, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus is the way to the good life—to eternal life.
This sounds nice in abstract, theological statements, but it often doesn’t match our experience. We follow Christ, but find ourselves in many precarious situations that challenge our surety and resolve. Sickness, evil, relationship tensions and breakdowns, depression, war, poverty, and many other problems make us wonder if the good life exists or can ever be known. How can there be a good life when so many bad things exist? In this very legitimate question, many of us don’t recognise that our questions about the good life are questions about God. Furthermore, like so much else, we see once more how vital faith and conviction are to orienting experience.
In the digital world of GPS, we seldom need a compass. But even our best mapping apps need the orientation of a compass. We need to know north from south, and east from west. When we don’t have a compass, the best natural indicator is the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. No matter where you are, you can gain basic orientation from this constant fixture of nature. If you don’t have a compass and you’re lost in the woods, you have a steady reminder of which direction to head in. There is always a way to discern true north.
However, when trials set in, we can quickly become disoriented in life. We can lose track of which way we should head. We can easily be misled down false trails, following crooked paths. But the Scriptures serve as our compass, directing our steps and giving us proper orientation: the Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). During affliction, the Psalmist recognised that God’s word comforts, because his promises bring life (Ps 119:50). Even in the midst of hardship, the Psalmist could praise God (“You are good and do good”) and petition him (“Teach me your statutes”) (Ps 119:68). God’s word is where we discover God’s goodness. This is why we must learn his word and meditate upon it day and night (Ps 119:15, 48, 99, 148).
But this goes a layer deeper: the word of God always commands our faith. God is unseen; without his word, his ways would remain largely unknown. So in reading and knowing his word, we take truths in faith—even difficult truths. We confess from faith truths to circumstance: the Psalmist declared, “I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (Ps 119:75). Amid what is seen and experienced, the Psalmist confessed words of faith: the Lord is good. Even if we are afflicted, our affliction serves the Lord’s good purposes.
Going deeper still, affliction isn’t just something to be endured; it is something we benefit from. Affliction is a pathway to the good life. The Psalmist wrote, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Ps 119:71). Challenges can easily upset people, but for the faithful, they increase faith: rather than denying the Lord’s goodness, they show forth more of it. This doesn’t make affliction easy, but it gives it context. Affliction provides an opportunity for faith to be applied to a situation. The Psalmist could cry out for the Lord’s deliverance, desperately wanting salvation while simultaneously confessing the Lord’s faithfulness to his promises. His promises serves as the basis of the Psalmist’s petition, the Psalmist clinging fast to the word of hope in challenges. The goodness the Psalmist knows at that moment isn’t necessarily immediate relief from the challenge, but a real hope of life.
This brings us back to Jesus. Knowing the goodness of his Father, he could commit himself as a servant to whatever was willed for him, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8). This certainly didn’t make his experience easy or keep him from praying for relief (Luke 22:41-44). Still, it gave him the confidence to submit to the good will of his Father. Furthermore, it was through this trial that Jesus also learned the obedience of faith, just as we must (Heb 5:7-10).
Given what we’ve explored, we can return to saying, “The good life is as sure as God himself”. There is nothing more real than God. But for now, God is known by faith. This means that, in many ways, the good life is also known in faith. It is a commitment to taking the Lord at his word—the word that promises us life. We commit ourselves to following Jesus, who came to give us life. Our pursuit of Christ is a dedication to growing up in the Word—to maturing in the truths of the gospel (Eph 4:13).
To shift metaphors, we can consider our growth in the Word like secure fastening to an anchor. Our trust in the promises of life for followers of Jesus tethers us when the storms of life come upon us. When we have a steady anchor—confidence in the goodness of God—then in faith, we can withstand the wind and waves of other teachings in the world that promise “good” things. We can endure the challenges of difficult seasons, sickness, sorrow, heartbreak and failure because of the promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus.
The good life is as sure as God himself. We know the good life and God now by faith, but we hope for the day when faith will be turned to sight.