Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Suffering and God's Goodness

These lines are in the preface to Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God:

Good when He gives,
supremely good;
Nor less when He denies: Afflictions,
from His sovereign hand, Are blessings in disguise.
This book is a great short read.  I avoid the label of “easy” on purpose.  It is a very challenging read despite its length, and one that should be read a few times as a reminder of our attention toward God.

It was this stanza in the preface which caught my attention this time through.  I believe that God is good.  Do I believe He is good all the time?  I may say I do, but is that something I cling to when trials and struggles hit?  I think one of the most pervasive problems when living out the Christian life is practical atheism-we may believe God is what He is, but too often, in all practicality, we don’t behave that way.  Am I willing and able to act as if God is good (more good and loving than I can even imagine) when every visceral reaction within me says He is not?

In addition, consider Psalm 119:75-

75 I know, O LORD , that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

Even in our afflictions (God caused or God allowed), God is faithful and righteous.  And what about the reaction of the Psalmist to these afflictions:

74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.


79 May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes.

Do those who long to know God turn to you or away from you?  Does your reaction to the vicissitudes of life enable people to see God, or does it make it more difficult?

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