*Read with caution: uppercase/lowercase nouns and pronouns are intentional and important, it gets a little theological so buckle up folks*
Though I don’t read as much as I feel like I should, every once in awhile I’ll pick up a Christian book to slowly work through on vacations, during standardized testing at school, that kind of thing. Right now I’m inching through When People Are Big And God Is Small by Edward T. Welch on the recommendation of my dad, and so far it’s been quite the worthwhile read.
Chapter four tells the story of a woman who struggles with allowing fear to reign in her life, and the author’s words have stuck with me ever since I read them. In essence, he says that to conquer these fears she needs to not look to the sovereignty of God alone, but rather study the character of that sovereign God.
Theoretically, no matter how big God is, He would not be trustworthy if He were not good.
So if we imagine a hypothetically omnipotent but evil god, wouldn’t it follow that they would not be worthy of our praise, deserving of our souls, or meriting our love? Even if this god doesn’t qualify as evil, maybe just imperfect, everything Christianity claims as truth comes crashing down. Absolute power in the hands of any imperfect entity means there will be absolute failure at least sometimes; and why would humans, also imperfect, trust a god that’s no better than us, with our very souls?
This god would not have been capable of creating a perfectly whole world in the beginning, and it certainly wouldn’t be able to create the perfect new heaven and earth that we hope for. It would not be righteous or holy, not a perfect judge and not perfectly abounding in mercy and grace. It would not be a perfect promise keeper, it would not perfectly love us. We would be drifting, hopeless, ever fearful of the fallible being that possesses all power to do whatever with.
But we don’t have that god, we have the God. The God of the Bible, who is revealed in His creation and His Word.
So, before you can put your trust in God, you have to confirm that He is, in fact, all good in His infinite power. So, let’s see what His special revelation has to say about His character.
I originally had loads of different verses about His goodness, but then I got to Psalm 103 and was absolutely captured by how crazy personal our God is! This chapter literally goes through everything God has been teaching me about this part of His character, except it’s much better than I could ever say it, it’s the divinely inspired Word of God! So take a minute and read this passage, and let the greatness of our God settle in.
“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has H\e removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like the flowers of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children — with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey His precepts.
The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word. Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will. Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.”
It’s hard to believe that God, who is this perfect, righteous, and loving, cares for us.
So this chapter goes through every point, starting with God’s goodness. We see the Psalmist praising Him for His attributes, every one of them infinitely flawless and complete. Then God’s supreme power is established, and we are reminded that whether or not we choose to accept the truth, He is King and we are merely works under His dominion. Finally, with His wholly good power established, we are told to praise Him, obey Him, and serve Him.
Because when we are servants of a God who is all-good and all-powerful, whom shall we fear? This is the true God, the God who we can trust. This is the God who is more worthy of our praise, deserving of our souls, and meriting our love. We serve Him, obey Him, and follow Him because all His ways are good and He is the orchestrator of all happenings in the cosmos down to the smallest detail.
This is our God, the God who isn’t a powerful tyrant or a fallible ruler, but who is perfectly good and all-powerful.