“[God] comforts them when in trouble, strengthens them when weak, makes their beds in sickness, revives them when fainting, upholds them when falling, and so seasonably and effectually manages for them, that though they are persecuted and tempted, though their enemies are many and mighty, nothing that they feel or fear is able to separate them from his love.”
– Works of John Newton (2015), 1:344.
“When God’s people are beset by temptation or persecution, a revelation of God’s character and glory is the best remedy. His power guarantees the final victory, his justice guarantees vindication of the right, and his goodness and magnificence guarantee blessing and comfort. The blood of the Lamb demonstrates that solid redemption has already been accomplished. Even in the midst of trials and persecutions, God is still the ruler. He controls everything.”
– Vern Poythress, The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation, 97.
I walk around making strong eye contact with the floor. Though generally flat and non-responsive, it’s often more help than animate objects. I can fall on it, salt it with my tears, and beat it with my fists. I haven’t yet tried that combination on a human. My hunch is that it wouldn’t go well. There’s something about the idea of receiving blows that scares most people off. And the ones it doesn’t scare off aren’t the type of people I like to be around.
Problems like the indoors. They stay inside because they’re allergic to the sun. Knowing this, I step outside for a walk. The high-pitched laughter of robins greets me. Their sounds ride on a breeze and call to memory Jesus’ words about their Keeper. “Look at the birds… your heavenly Father feeds them.”
“God cares for you, dude,” I shout up to the one standing on the telephone wire. I want to remind him, lest he forget. But I’m only returning the favor. He reminded me first.
“We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World Inc., 1960), 170.
“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” (John 16:26-27)
The Father himself loves you.
The Father himself loves you.
The Father himself loves you.
The Father himself love you.
The Father himself loves you.
Soak in that for a lifetime.
The pious mind recognizes “God because it knows that he governs all things; and trusts that he is its guide and protector, therefore giving itself over completely to trust in him. Because it understand him to be the Author of every good, if anything oppresses, if anything is lacking, immediately it betakes itself to his protection, waiting for help from him. Because it is persuaded that he is good and merciful, it reposes in him with perfect trust, and doubts not that in his loving-kindness a remedy will be provided for all its ills.”
– John Calvin, Institutes, I. ii. 2.
“Pain is meant to drive us to God: in need, from a sense of helplessness and poverty. When you are willing to enter into experiences of loneliness, loss, disappointment, or frustration – willing to face hard realities, and not bolt for some lesser pleasure – you find the door to the greatest pleasure of all.
Similarly, pleasure is meant to draw us to God: with simple gratitude and delight. You take it for what it is, a mere gift to be enjoyed from the hand of the Giver of gifts. When we desperately try to escape pain, we turn our pleasures into saviors and they prove to be the devil to us.”
– Dr. David Powlison, Innocent Pleasures, JBC, Fall 2005, 28.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)
“Paul asserts that believers have inherited the promise of Abraham (Gal. 3:14, 29), and this promise is an astounding one, for Abraham is heir of the world (Rom. 4:13…). Here he says something even more stunning: believers are “heirs of God” himself. The wording suggests not merely that believers are heirs of what God has promised but of God himself. The supreme benefit of the covenant with Abraham is not inheriting the land but having God as one’s God (Gen. 17:7).”
– Thomas Schreiner, Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 427-28.
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to the pews. ”
– Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), 40.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” – Romans 5:6
“Christ’s work was not according to the ‘God helps them that helps themselves’ of Poor Richard’s Almanac. He did not wait for us to start helping ourselves, but died for us when we were altogether helpless.”
– C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, Ed. J.A. Emerton, Vol. 1 (International Critical Commentary; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 263-64.
“For the first time in my life I experienced what Abraham felt when he fell upon his face and laughed. I was riding home, very weary with a long week’s work, when there came to my mind this text – ‘My grace is sufficient for thee:’ but it came with the emphasis laid upon two words: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ My soul said, ‘Doubtless it is. Surely the grace of the infinite God is more than sufficient for such a mere insect as I am,’ and I laughed, and laughed again, to think how far the supply exceeded all my needs.”
– Charles Spurgeon, The Holy Spirit in Connection with Our Ministry in the second series of Lectures to My Students.
“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.” – Genesis 32:24
Commenting on this verse Calvin says, “in short, such is [God’s] apportioning of it is conflict, that, while he assails us with one hand, he defends us with the other; yea, inasmuch as he supplies us with more strength to resist than he employs in opposing us, we may truly and properly say, that he fights against us with his left hand, and for us with his right hand. For while he lightly opposes us, he supplies invincible strength whereby we overcome. It is true he remains at perfect unity with himself: but the double method in which he deals with us cannot be otherwise expressed, than that in striking us with a human rod, he does not put forth his full strength in the temptation; but that in granting the victory to our faith, he becomes in us stronger than the power by which he opposes us.”
photo: Ray Ortlund
God, who has “established his throne in the heavens,” also crowns individuals with steadfast love (Psalm 103:19 and 5).
The One whose “kingdom rules over all” is the same One whose steadfast love is “from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:19 and 17).
God’s sovereign rule over everything is not exercised independent from his steadfast love. In fact, God is continually demonstrating his steadfast love in his sovereign rule.
When we pray to God as Governor of the world, “we pray to One that hath the whole globe of heaven and earth in his hand, and can do whatsoever he will: though he be higher than the cherubims, and transcendently above all in majesty, yet we may soar up to him with the wings of our soul, faith, and love, and lay open our cause, and find him as gracious as if he were the meanest subject on earth, rather than the most sovereign God in heaven. He hath as much of tenderness as he hath of authority, and is pleased with prayer.”
– Stephen Charnock, Discourse Upon the Existence and Attributes of God (London: James Blackwood and Co., ND), 699.
He has the whole of heaven and earth in his hand and can do whatever he wants to do. He has as much tenderness as he does authority. This is the God to whom we pray.
“Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.”
– C.H. Spurgeon, in The Immutability of God.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”
– Proverbs 19:21
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
– Psalm 84:11
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”
– Psalm 34:8-10
“We should cast ourselves down at his feet, with a full resignation of ourselves to his sovereign pleasure.”
– Stephen Charnock quoting Dr. Goodwin, Discourses Upon the Existence and Attributes of God (London: James Blackwood and Co.), 663.
God’s being is also something totally unique. It is not just that God does not need the creation for anything; God could not need the creation for anything. The difference between the creature and the Creator is an immensely vast difference, for God exists in a fundamentally different order of being. It is not just that we exist and God has always existed; it is also that God necessarily exists in an infinitely better, stronger, more excellent way.
The difference between God’s being and ours is more than the difference between the sun and a candle, more than the difference between the ocean and a raindrop, more than the difference between the arctic ice cap and a snowflake, more than the difference between the universe and the room we are sitting in: God’s being is qualitatively different. No limitation or imperfection in creation should be projected onto our thought of God. He is the Creator; all else is creaturely. All else can pass away in an instant; he necessarily exists forever.
– Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 162.
We may hold unswervingly to our hope because he who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23). He is faithful to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), sanctify believers until the return of Christ (1 Thess. 5:23-24), strengthen and protect from the evil one (2 Thess. 3:3), and not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). Even if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself (2 Tim. 2:13).
– Gordon R. Lewis, “God, Attributes of,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Ed. Walter A. Elwell, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 495.
“For what can be know about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”
– Romans 1:19
“The Bible regards all men as believing in the existence of God. Because of this, it does not attempt to prove his existence.”
– Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 27.