There are things I do not understand.
I do not understand the goodness of God. I can comprehend his greatness, easily enough, I do not deny the greatness of God, but I struggle with his goodness. Sure, God is great, that doesn’t unsettle me. Why should I care whether or not there is an all powerful being reigning over all the realm? Greatness is easy. It is reasonable. It is understandable. Goodness, on the other hand, is not. Especially the goodness of God. The greater he is the more difficult it becomes to understand his goodness. The greatness makes it harder to accept the goodness. It is why we struggle, why I struggle to comprehend the sadness of the earth. Such a little world, why so much pain? How can someone be both great and good? One or the other, I can comprehend, but to be both? I do not understand it.
And it runs deep. So very deep. A gift of God is immediately rejected, despised even fought against. Why? Because we cannot accept that God is good, that God would give us something good. We know he can, but refuse to believe he will.
Why do I find delight in so many places, why do I keep finding wonderful people, people I didn’t even know of their existence until, suddenly, out of nowhere, there they were, and then you wonder how it could be that the world could, and even did, ever exist without them. You find yourself more willing to accept that these people might have existed from outside time itself, that the world never could exist without them, then to accept that God is good.
I do not understand it. Amidst the joys there is great pain, suffering, and everywhere there is darkness, so much darkness. How can a great God be, when there is so much of these dark things to be found? And because he is great, how can he be good if these terrible things happen.
Where was God? Why did this happen? Why did an all powerful God allow this?
We ask these questions, our heart is desperate to know the answer. From the moment we were born to the moment we die, we know pain. Our first breath and our last breath are most often ones of suffering. From our earliest moments, to our last, we are in the torment that life has brought us. A struggle, a terrible, long, struggle. We decay from our first moment, never being what we were, but always growing worse, growing older. Even the healthiest of us will die. Everyone dies.
How can this be? How can God be both good and great?
I do not understand. I do not doubt the greatness of God, it is his goodness that I struggle with.
I think to an extent, at one time or another, it is something all have struggled with. We know that it is nothing for God to be great, but it is everything for him to be good. And pain demands an answer.
Only God can answer, and there can only ever be one answer, if God is to be both great and good, he must therefore take upon himself every suffering, every pain, everything. If one thing is lacking, then he cannot be both great and good.
I still do not understand.
Even so, why do the truly innocent suffer? Even animals, for example, experience suffering. The only explanation I can come up with is that humanity is the crowning glory of all creation, and when the crown falls, so does the kingdom. Death comes to all, because death came to humanity. In asking why we suffer, why creatures of all types, suffer, I think we underestimate the importance our role as humanity plays in it. Perhaps it is a truth too terrible to face, perhaps it is hard to accept our responsibility, perhaps it is that we simply do not understand. I do not understand. Maybe it has something to do with our perception of time, and in reality all that we call darkness is but a little thing, but even the tiniest thing can overwhelm when you are in the midst of it.
These are questions I do not know the answers to, nothing satisfies it fully. There is always another question that needs answering, and in the end it always comes back to the first question, how can a great God be a good God?
But he is, and I do not say that blindly, or out of desire, but as a fact that needs to taken into the picture.
One guess is that perhaps God’s attributes cannot contradict one another. For example, his love cannot contradict his justice, his goodness cannot contradict his greatness, and so forth. An infinite being with infinite attributes, all working together in perfect balance.
Also, it must be considered that the standard for these attributes, such as goodness, is the same for God as it is for humanity. There is not one morality for God and another for man. There is one alone. So yes, God’s goodness must conform to the idea of goodness that he has laid forth for man. It cannot be that God can get away with doing something that man cannot because he’s God.
God is the attribute. It is often said that God is love. Yes. He is the word, he is the thing itself. He is the standard by which we draw the concept of love, of goodness, and so forth.
God is good, because God is good.
But, let us ask, if God did not have his attributes, would he still be God?
Perhaps. But he wouldn’t be the same as he is. For example, a God without goodness, the only reasonable thing we could do against such a being is rebel against him with everything we got. A God without truth would not be worth heeding. A God without beauty, we would not know what beauty is and would dwell in an even bleaker world then we do, with no hope at all, we would only ever know something more akin to Hell. A God without justice, and we would lack any concept of the difference between that which is good and that which is not. There could be neither rebellion or obedience to a God without justice, and we would have no choice at all, but would be subject to the whims of God. We would be secure one day, and considered enemy number one the next. We certainly couldn’t call a God without justice a loving God. We couldn’t trust that he means it when love is demonstrated. It would be like a faithless man who tells someone he loves them, but doesn’t, and continues doing the very opposite of love towards them. God must be just, because he is love.
Taking that into consideration perhaps that there is goodness to be found at all is an amazing thing. Of all the infinite attributes of God, they all work together in perfect harmony. If one of them was even the slightest bit off, the whole thing would fall apart. Such perfection is hard to comprehend, and I could spend the rest of my life trying to describe just a small handful of the attributes of God and would still fall ridiculously short of the actual reality of God, but hopefully, I can at least convey the idea of why it is that God can be both great and good.
God is the attribute. Things we call love and justice, our concepts of these things, are drawn from the thing that they actually are. We would not know them if they didn’t exist first in reality.
Think about it for a moment. An infinite God with infinite attributes.
Yet, we ourselves are separate from God. We are individuals. We are not part of God, but separate beings from God, independent from him, something other. It is hard to describe how something can be other, when something is everywhere, but there are a lot of impossible truths, riddles even, it’s why we keep asking questions.
Separation provides us with a choice, to follow, or to run. Some run, some follow. The truth comes down to the peculiarity of the fact that we are separate entities from the entity that created us. We remain however, an image of God, this is important to understand.
So why suffering?
Because we can make choices. Once we gained the knowledge to choose between good and evil. It is curiously spoken that such a state is being ‘like gods,’ ‘like us,’ and so forth. But because we hold an additional attribute, knowledge of evil, it doesn’t make us a better person, nor does it make us gods, only our nature as an image, as mirrors if you will, give us an additional attribute. Knowledge of evil. We are not purposed for evil, but in learning it, put it into practice as well. Every action begins with a thought.
So why Hell?
Again, because we chose to. Let us consider for a moment that in the bigger picture of things that we exist not as timelines, with a past, a present, and a future, but that we are eternally a product of a choice, that we have two roads if you will, and we all start at the crossroads. Where we end up depends entirely on which road we take from there. But when the choice is made one way or the other, that is the choice that is made for the whole of our reality. We are either creatures of Heaven or creatures of Hell, because we always were, always are, and always will be, one or the other, depending on which path we chose to take. But it is important to understand that it is entirely our choice that brings the outcome. Thus, those who are in Heaven are in Heaven because they chose to be, and those who are in Hell are in Hell because they chose to be. God did not send, does not send, and will not send anyone to Hell. But people will go there if they chose it. And that is where they always were. We are one or the other, because we chose to be one or the other. It’s quite simple really.If you hosted a party and you invited a bunch of guest, some came to the party, and were at the party, while some did not come, would you say that those who did not come, were at the party? Of course not. Why? Did you send them away from the party? No, you invited them all to come but they did not come. If a man stays home, you can’t exactly drag him to a party he doesn’t wish to attend. If one choses to refrain from a party, he has chosen to do something else. That something else, for us, is Hell. It isn’t pleasant, like the party is. But, if you were to refuse an invitation, who is to blame for your not being present at the party? Certainly not the host of the party.
Why doesn’t God just drag us to the party ‘for our own good’ then? Remember what I said earlier about all the attributes of God having to work together in perfect unison or he ceases to be God? God cannot do so, because it violates his attributes to do so, and he is the attribute, he can no more break it then he can break himself.
Which is why Christ crucified changed everything that is, everything that was, everything that ever will be. Because, all that we are, he became, so that he could take upon himself, everything that we are, in turn he gives to us everything that he is. Because he is love, and because he is just. The most fair and unfair thing that ever happened had to fall upon himself.
But we still have a choice in the matter.
At the end of the day God is God because he is God.
Even if we had everything he has, all power, all knowledge, and so forth, that doesn’t automatically make us gods too. It isn’t his attributes that make him, except it is, except it isn’t. It is perhaps best summed up in the name: “I AM”. He is, because he is, because he is. Even if he didn’t have all that he has, he would still be God, because he is God.
Yes, there is a lot I don’t understand. The hardest thing for me, is the goodness of God.
It is difficult for me to comprehend God apart from comprehending God.
I do feel a little overwhelmed by the study of an infinite God. Infinite will do that.
I do not understand, but at the end of the day, I have to believe what it is that he says of himself. If he says he is good, then good he must be, even if I have a hard time making sense of it, it doesn’t make it any less true for my not understanding it. In the mean time, I keep asking questions, perhaps someday I will know the answers, but for now, it is questions, lots of questions. But in the consideration of an infinite God, with infinite attributes, there must be an answer for every question. And not just ‘Because I said so.’ that is an empty answer with no meaning or reason, even for God. There must always be a reason. Always. Is God accountable to me? No, but he is to himself. Thus, I do believe there are answers to every question, reasons for everything that is, and so forth, I’m just not comprehending it right now. It makes perfect sense, I’m just not keeping up, if you will.
So I keep asking questions, and I expect I will keep asking questions until the day I die, perhaps there will be more questions after that even, perhaps not.
After all, that’s the way it should be.