Thursday, October 30, 2014

The LORD is good to all

This morning I read what is among my favorite psalms, Ps 145. It is a long and enthusiastic celebration of God's utter goodness and benevolence to every creature and every person. In it we find the following:

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
  slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
  and his compassion is over all that he has made (Ps 145.8-9).

I enjoy reading this very much because it resonates deeply with me; it is a fine embodiment of my understanding of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. I believe that the cross of Jesus Christ, an atonement for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2), is the definitive demonstration of God's goodwill and love for the whole of the creation. This psalm here is even more so plausible and full of truth when we see it through the demonstration of God's love in Jesus.

Yet our experience often calls it into question! Is the LORD really gracious and merciful? Is he really good and compassionate to all? Is it really true that The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings (Ps 145.17)? How many people have to suffer every day and never find resolution for their problems, despite all their prayers! How many people lift up the prayer, Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low (Ps 142.6) and a response doesn't seem forthcoming!

Here we are brought face to face with God who acts and does things differently than we do. We want problems to be resolved here and now; God seems content to take his time in most cases. Rarely if ever are things hurried. Consider the story of Samuel searching for the new king of Israel. He wanted one of Jesse's older boys to be the king, since they were of age and strong and ready for the job. Instead God chose David, who was yet a boy and had to pass through many trials and tribulations first before becoming king. Samuel would have preferred a quick solution to the matter, but God chose the lengthier way.

Why things are like this, we may never know. The world isn't the way we would expect; God isn't like us in every respect, and here especially he seems strange and far off. What are we supposed to do? What else can we do, except what the Bible calls us to do from the very beginning to the very end: to trust God. This was Jesus' message: repent and believe in the good news that God's kingdom is near; trust that God is taking control of things and is leading them to a glorious restoration in the end.

This psalm is a good psalm to pray. Think of Christ on the cross for the sins of the whole world, think of the empty tomb and the power of God to bring resurrection out of crucifixion. Then you will say: The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings (Ps 145.17).