The benevolence or goodness of God lies at the heart of the Christian faith. The longer I journey with God, the more I see that who He is and what He is like must inform my thinking and living, otherwise I am in danger of idolatry. If I worship a god made in my own mage, fashioned and crafted after human traits and thoughts, I am guilty of idolatry.
Ps 119:68 is one of the most important verses in the Bible and should be known by every disciple: ‘You are good and what You do is good.’
The goodness of God will protect us from error, which is usually to focus on the power of God divorced from His love or to focus on the love of God divorced from His power. People ask, ‘If God is good, why does He allow evil to happen?’ and decide He is either good and weak (i.e. He is unable to prevent evil) or powerful and malevolent (i.e. able to prevent evil but malicious towards people, enjoying their suffering and misery.) Both extremes are profoundly wrong.
St Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century theologian, said that, ‘God is so powerful that He can direct any evil to a good end’, a view which echoes Paul’s confident assertion that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28). (This is another verse every disciple ought to learn by heart.) We do not know why God allows evil to remain (and flourish at times), but we do know that His love, goodness and power are not at odds with each other and that He is working in all things for good. This may seem trite because we have trivialised this truth, but if we allow the truth of God’s goodness to penetrate our thining and emotions, we will be able to beat any trial with hope and faith.
Evil may seem to triumph for a while, but God promises an end to evil, suffering, pain and sorrow and the destruction of ‘Gog and Magog’ (Ezek 38-39), identified as the world under Satan’s rule (Rev 19:11-20:10). The end result is already known: God wins! As Eugene Peterson puts it, ‘Evil is not inexhaustible. It is not infinite. It is not worthy of a lifetime of attention.’ Instead, we should fix our eyes on God’s goodness rather than on the prevalence, propinquity and presence of evil, and will then find hope stirring, faith flourishing and courage blossoming. God is on our side and will lead us into victory.