He is Good (a lament)

"How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" - Psalm 13.1

I have that feeling you get when you climb out on the rocks overlooking the ocean. You hike right past the sign that reads, "CAUTION! Beware of drop-off" and keeping going, your adrenaline rising with each step that meets solid ground. You have faith in your reflexes, but where faith ends there is risk. You embrace the risk, in fact, the risk itself is exhilarating. That's not why you do it though. You're in pursuit of something. You're looking for Him. You have a deep respect for the bluffs and the magnitude of their height, but even their majesties bow to His.

"I came here to find You. Where are You? I need You now. Oh God I need to hear from You."

My cry is met with silence.


I suppose it's for times like these that the words of Isaiah are etched in my memory:
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for Yahweh-Elohim is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation." - Isaiah 12.2

Or in the words of a more modern lyricist, “Two things You've told me: That You are strong and You love me!” (Jon Foreman) His sovereignty is cause for rejoicing! Answer me this, oh my downcast soul: Was He sovereign in the desert? Did He not feed our fathers Manna in the wilderness? Did He forget His children? Oh broken heart within me, your Father is near to those who trust in Him! He is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.

He is good.

If you’re like me, you may have to stop to think about this for a minute. It's been years since I fought with the doctrine of Sovereign Grace. Ultimately I ended up accepting that Scripture teaches that God has full reign over all objects, wills and events, but I'll been the first to admit that it's a hard one to swallow. I don't like it. (I just don’t know how else to possibly interpret Romans 9.13-16,17-18,21-23, Genesis 50.20, and a mile-long list of other passages that depict God as the “Divine Chess Player.” (*1)) Still, at the same time, I can also point to a list of verses that describe God's goodness. Therefore, He is sovereign and, on the other hand, He is good. (Mat 7.11, James 1.17)

But what if His goodness is actually wrapped up in His sovereignty? The way a father's love for his children is wrapped up in his desire and ability to provide for them. The way lovers--when they know each other so well they can anticipate the others' thoughts--desire the intimacy of familiarity. This is the first time I've ever seen it this way:

The very fact that He hems me in before and after... that He knows my thoughts... that He is there in my worst moments (and He planned those too)... that it was His hand that wrote my name in the Book of Life... that He was the one who took my place on the cross... and He will be the one to declare me righteous on the Day of Judgment...

The very fact that He is sovereign in all things,
this is His goodness.

So
why do I fight it? Why do I scream and cry and doubt whenever He is silent? (*2) Surely this, too, is for a purpose. His purpose. So I will rejoice in His sovereignty.

"He is not a tame Lion... But He is good."
-C.S. Lewis


Maker, Creator,
You knit me together in the womb. You started my heart beating and You alone have sustained it. I'm no mystery to You.
My King, my Lover,
You have pursued my heart and won it. I desire none but You.
Rapha Adonai, Healer,
You may wound me 'til nothing's left, then in my flesh I shall see You.
I want to see You.

Amen


Footnotes:

*1 - Gregory Boyd has received a lot of attention for giving God this label, but I don’t mean it in the same way he does. Dr. Boyd has a notion of God playing chess versus someone (Us? Satan? Original sin? Who knows?) and I’m pretty sure that’s heresy no matter how you cut it. My version of the analogy actually only works if God plays both sides with us and the gentiles as the pieces.

*2 - I read David's songs of lament and at least I know I'm in good company... I'm so glad He gave us music. I'm so glad He doesn't mind our raw emotions spewn all over the ground at His feet. And I'm so glad He gave us His Spirit that weeps with us even when we weep because we miss Him.

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