Restoration

Restoration

Posted September 05, 2014:
God’s Goodness? What about War, Injustice, Poverty?

by Tom White.

God is Beauty, Truth, and Goodness. In part 1, I talked about beauty. This time, I will talk about goodness.

How little God’s goodness is known and appreciated in the world today! How ashamed I feel when I think of how little I have thanked him for his many gifts to me and how often I have blamed him for the troubles I brought on myself by my own sin and folly!

Many people would question these sentiments: What about war, injustice, poverty, disease and finally, death? Where is God’s goodness in all that?

I certainly don’t claim to have the answer to the question of evil in the world. I can only speak from my own personal conviction and share a few thoughts.

Psalm 115:16 tells us, The heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to men.

God in his love and wisdom and generosity has given the world to us as our home, our delight, our possession. He is not going to take it back from us.

But he has also given us free will; we can choose good or evil. Unless he takes away our free will, God cannot prevent us from choosing evil.

Psalm 80:12-16 gives us more clues:

But my people would not heed my voice

And Israel would not obey

So I left them in their stubbornness of heart

to follow their own designs

O that my people would hear me,

That Israel would walk in my ways.

At once I would subdue their foes

Turn my hand against their enemies.

The Lord’s enemies would cringe at his feet

And their subjection would last forever

But Israel I would feed with finest wheat

And fill them with honey from the rock.

We are not forced to obey even the voice of love and wisdom. In our stubbornness of heart we can choose to follow our own designs, and when we do, God leaves us alone to learn the hard way.

This world, this life, is God’s wonderful and terrible gift to us. What will we do with it?

We need only look back at the wreckage of the 20th century to see what happens when we follow our own designs.

But the Lord told Israel that if they walk in his ways, at once he will subdue their foes.

What are our real foes? War, hatred, fear, injustice, poverty, disease, death.

This is God’s goodness: the more we turn to him, the more he can turn his hand against our enemies. At once! Hell would cringe at his feet forever. Israel he would feed with the finest wheat and fill them with honey from the rock.

Ultimately, of course, our foes are our own unredeemed hearts full of pride, anger, lust, greed, gluttony, envy and sloth.

Truly, what more can God do without violating our free will, which is his greatest gift? It seems to me that the ball is very much in our court.

And so again: what is our part in all this?

First of all, we can humbly praise and thank God for the many gifts he gives us so freely.

Also we should understand, as best we can, the greatness that God has called us to.

We don’t just live here. What we do with our lives makes the world a better place or a worse place.

Many people think that they will just live their private lives off in a corner somewhere, that they can check in and out of the world as though it were a motel. But that isn’t so. Whether we like it or not, we are all going to leave our mark on the world.

What will that mark be? Will we be neither hot nor cold, causing God to spit us out? Will we leave a mess that someone else will have to clean up? Or will we throw our lot in with God? If we choose to walk in his ways, is it not true that God can do great things through us?

Also, we need to put away the tempting but nonetheless false idea that God is indifferent to our suffering. Did he not say, I came that you might have life and have it in great abundance (Jn 10:10).

God made life for joy and delight, not for sorrow and pain. There is sorrow and pain in or lives, but I don’t believe that God would have it so. Sometimes he allows misfortune to befall us for our own ultimate good, and sometimes he punishes us.

But the truth of man is that he was created in the image and likeness of God to share in the divine life. What a beautiful and uplifting teaching!

 

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