(Originally published at www.theomag.com)
By Hillary Kaudse
Kick your heels up and doubt—come on now.
In my own life, I wrestle with it. Is God really who he says he is?
Doubt rears its ugly head when I feel like the circumstances around me are not an accurate reflection of how I think God should will things to be. When the depravity found in humanity is overwhelming, when heartbreaking things happen to people who do not deserve it, when the world is not “fair;” my faith falters. I doubt that God is as good as he says he is. I doubt his kindness and benevolence to humanity.
Recently, my prayer has been for God to increase my faith and for the words of the lamenter to ring true with me:
“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)
I don’t pray for my faith to increase only because God makes evident his goodness by answering my prayers how I want them to be answered. What kind of faith does it require to believe that God is good when things go the way we want them to? Rather, my petition has been that I will know God more and my faith would increase because I have seen and known the goodness of his character. He is not good just when things go my way. He is good because goodness is fundamental to his nature. In discussing the nature of God’s goodness, justness and holiness, G.R. Lewis observes:
“The question Plato asked therefore needs to be reworded to apply to the Christian God: ‘Is the good good because God wills it? Or does God will it because it is good?’ The question relates not to God’s will or to some principle of goodness above God, but to God’s essence. The good, the just, the pure, the holy is holy, not by reason of an arbitrary act of the divine will, nor of a principle independent of God, but because it is an outflow of his nature. God always wills in accord with his nature consistently. He wills the good because he is good ”
I study then to know God through my intellect- to know his nature, to know the aspects of his character. That knowledge, if I allow it, can serve to continually transform my own character, and to move me beyond and through my doubt. God’s goodness is never dependent on circumstances. God wills good because he is good.
Though knowing and loving God should reach our emotions, it also has to go beyond them. I need to know God with my heart and mind. In order for my faith to increase and my doubt to decrease, I must move beyond the emotional response of despair at life’s circumstances and allow my knowledge of who God is to take over.
My love and faith in God are not then primarily emotional responses. Instead, my love for God is a responsible and faithful commitment to believe he is who he says he is. I make the choice to believe that goodness is a fundamental characteristic of who God is and that what he wills is good. As a result, I willfully choose to interpret life through this knowledge of God’s unchanging character.