Divine Goodness

I’m currently reading The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis (are you surprised? I love his writing! I bought three more of his books just the other day!) among other things.

Like most of Lewis’ work, it’s so rich and deep. I read it over and over. This one particular chapter titled Divine Goodness talks about God’s goodness and how we view that and should view that. I think I’ve read it a few times now.

If I could drop this whole chapter here for you to read… 1) that would be a lot to type, 2) that would be a lot for you to read and 3) I think you should grab yourself a copy and read it in full for yourself. It’s just so good, y’all.

To start with, the main point is that God’s goodness is very different from what humans consider “good.” This all comes back to our perspective and the simple fact that we are not like God in many ways – though we were made in His image, we were not made with the same understanding.

Beyond all doubt, His idea of ‘goodness’ differs from ours; but you need have no fear that, as you approach it, you will be asked simply to reverse your moral standards.

Pg 30

I’m sure, especially those that have come to Christ later in life, you see a drastic change of standards between “before Christ” and “with Christ” in your life. For those that have always been brought up in Church and with a foundational knowledge of Jesus, you may perhaps not have a dramatic testimony with changes in yourself. Even so, there is a growth that happens over a person’s life on their journey to grow in Christ. Over the course of this life we’re given, following Christ, we will undergo some change in our standards – our minds will be renewed, we’ll be transformed over time to be more Christlike, we’ll see things differently as God reveals Himself to us bit by bit.

That being said, our God is a personal God. He cares deeply, not just about temporary happiness, but about true joy in Him – the things that bring joy over happiness aren’t found in earthly things, but are rooted in an understanding that our home is in Heaven.

What we would here and now call our ‘happiness’ is not the end God chiefly has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy.

Pg 41

This idea is foreign to the ways of the world. The world looks at the concept of God. Some may be interested, but some would prefer an absent God – not the personal One that is ever present. In this way, Lewis describes as a grandfather.

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘likes to see young people enjoying themselves’, and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all’.

Pg 31

He talks about our concept of love needing correction. On earth, the love between humans is different than what God offers. We have to move beyond earthly comparisons – our comparisons are finite and imperfect – and dig into God’s character.

It appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.

The relation between Creator and creature is, of course, unique, and cannot be paralleled by any relations between one creature and another. God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.

Pg 33

I love where Lewis says “God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.” While He is so far above us in Power, Mightiness, Holiness, etc., He is so so close to us. He gave us His very Spirit!

We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something that which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character.

Pg 34

Our transformation He will complete when we get to Heaven. He is continuing His good work in us. He continues to mold us, like the potter and the clay. I love that description that’s so similar to when He created all things – it pleased Him, He loves what He made and not because anything that we do, but because of Who He Is.

The transformation for us, he comparatively describes like a dog and his master. A misbehaving dog or maybe just a puppy will be trained and molded into the mature dog that the owner desires.

It’s great merit lies in the fact that the association of (say) man and dog is primarily for the man’s sake: he takes the dog primarily that he may love it, not that it may love him, and that it may serve him, not that he may serve it.

Pg 35

He talks about doubt here, which may have spurred my recent questions on doubt which I’m actually not quite sure of. I’ve just been pondering doubt – the concept, not doubts formed myself – lately, if that makes sense.

Similar to a dog doubting his owner at first, we may at first have doubts about God, perhaps his goodness at first – I may be presumptuous in saying that this may happen more-so in those that have lived most of their life apart from God, living a hard life that may make trusting God and His Good intentions difficult at first. The more mature the believer, the less doubt of the master, our Father, our Savior.

The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. ‘Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’

Pg 40

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 4:11

Because God has no needs, fully satisfied in Himself, the love he bestows on us and that we encounter is different than love between humans.

God doesn’t need us – again, He is fully satisfied in Himself. These next quotes explain our predicament.

If He requires us, the requirement is of His own choosing.

Pg 43

If He who is Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed.

It is good for us to know love; and best for us to know the love of the best object, God.

Pg 44

God graciously gave us free will to choose. Lewis says that “the very possibility of our living is His gift to us” and “since our freedom is only a freedom of better or worse response.”

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

1 John 4:10

With that free will, He has the role of Father in our life. He is sovereign and has all wisdom. He was very specific in where and when we were created. In that, we all have a purpose gifted to us.

Creatures are not thus separate from their Creator, nor can He misunderstand them. The place for which He designs them in His scheme of things is the place they are made for.

When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy.

Pg 46

That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.

Pg 47

In His Divine Goodness, God exemplifies all His characteristics and impacts every aspect of life. Lewis covers so many things and I’ve touched on a few of them here. Though we may not ever know the whys and hows in this world, over time as we learn just Who God is and grow in our depth of trust in Him, we find greater rest and peace. I hope to fall more deeply into that and I pray the same for you.

If you can believe it, I trimmed this post down quite a bit. Thanks for sticking it out and reading!! I also hope you find yourself inclined to read some CS Lewis as well (of course 🙂).

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow, definitely sounds like an amazing book. Thank you for sharing. I know this took a lot of time to type out all these quotes. But they were worth it. I will definitely check out the book. Thank you! And this at the end: “over time as we learn just Who God is and grow in our depth of trust in Him, we find greater rest and peace. I hope to fall more deeply into that and I pray the same for you.” Yes and Amen, Sister! 🙂

    1. Summer says:

      Considering this was just one chapter… We’ll see where the rest leads me. I’m excited. Thanks for your comment! 🙏🏻🙌🏻🙂

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