I have never before in my life seen more evil, injustice and abuse around me as I have in the last two weeks, and yet I have found myself on numerous occasions saying "Wow, God is good!". The amazing thing is that I have not uttered these words trying to work up faith in my heart, but rather in response to the signs of hope I keep encountering in the midst of all this.
I am increasingly becoming convinced that it is in the midst of hopelessness, poverty, hatred and violence that God is most at work. As we involve ourselves as His agents into places of darkness, his love, compassion and mercy swells in our hearts. God has not left the planet and switched off the lights, rather he has put in us little lanterns of His creative Holy Spirit inspired light to shine brightly as signposts to his goodness.
In the last two weeks, I have looked into the eyes of senior police officers who, filled with hatred, anger and despair, had ordered the brutal whipping and humiliation of many of my friends. For 10 days, under orders, the Hillbrow police worked together with the city to remove the blankets and shoes of the homeless and burn their documentation. Many of my friends were arrested, only to be released 48 hours later. While in custody many were tortured.... It was brutal!
And yet ... as I spoke to my homeless friends, I repeatedly heard statements like "we are not looking for revenge, we just want them to stop". My one friend, who lived on the streets for almost a decade, and was himself on numerous occasions subjected to police violence, suggested that perhaps it would bring healing if we went to the police station with a group of men and women who had been beaten, and offered to wash the feet of some of the policemen who had committed these atrocities as a sign that we hold no offense in our hearts and only desire reconciliation and peace. Other homeless friends suggested we bring the police to meet them so that they could become their friends. Who can work this kind of miracle in the hearts of men and women to hold no bitterness in their hears? Wow, I declare "God is good!"
On the weekend, I sat and listened to the story of another new friend, who 6 months ago was addicted to heroine (a drug addiction practically impossible to break). He was desperate and cried out for help. His prayers were heard! While trying to steal washing off a line, a man had hit him over the head with a tomahawk hammer. Turns out, that was just what was needed... while he lay in the hospital in a coma for three weeks, he went through the impossible-to-bear withdrawal symptoms of his addiction and awoke a new man. His day-to-day drug free life shouts out "God is good"!
Also on the weekend, I baptized three of my homeless friends as they made decisions to commit themselves to following the One whose costly love calls them to a life of purpose. One went home on Sunday and reconciled with his family. I saw him yesterday and he told me of the tears of his grandmother who was overjoyed at what God had done in his life! What else can we declare... "God is good!"
My 8 year old son came to me on Friday and said "Dad, you always look after me, I don't need pocket money... I want to give it all to the poor. Here is my pocket money". Those moments sure make a dad's heart swell with joy. It makes me want to shout ... "God is good!"
Two days ago two men tried to rob me. I don't know what they took or if they took anything. The one guy said to me "I am going to kill you". Well, the good news is that I am here now and able to declare "God is good!"
And so my friends, with tears welled in my eyes and an extremely grateful heart, I say to you "God is good... all the time!"