Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Is that so Hard? Really!

Psalm 107:31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Four times over the writer of this Psalm repeats this desire of his heart.  We do not know for sure who wrote the Psalm, but we do know that whoever wrote it did in fact love the Lord.  I have been meditating on this Psalm and I wonder why it is so hard for us to do what the Psalmist asks.  To me it is obvious that men do not generally give thanks or praise to the Lord for His goodness or else the Psalmist wouldn’t have written in this way.  There are a number of reasons why people do not give thanks to the Lord.  I would like to look at a few that I have encountered.

Some people do not believe that a creator God exists.  I am not going to spend time on this because to me it is just as self-evident today that there is a Creator as it was when the Declaration of Independence was written.  You will recall that in that document the writers stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are CREATED equal.” That someone designed this universe is self-evident as far as I am concerned.  Who that Creator God is and whether we know Who He is could be logically argued.  But it is not logical to say that someone or something as complex as a human could have existed without a Creator.

Some people do not believe that the God of the Old Testament is “good.”  They point to the genocide required of God for those nations that had turned away from Him to be unjust and cruel.  I understand the argument, but all I am going to say about this is that the Old Testament and its system of justice did not make men good or keep them from sin.  We live in New Testament times when God is displaying His mercy and His grace.  He is displaying His sacrificial love.  And the New Testament God that I serve is both merciful and just.  I personally believe that judgment did not come in the Old Testament until men had every opportunity to “repent and believe.”  Of course that does not solve the problem of God destroying the children even though these children died innocent and went to heaven.  I am glad that I live in New Testament times where we are not commanded to physically destroy those who reject the Lord.

Others point to the suffering, disease, poverty and war that exists in the world today and they argue that if God is good, He should intervene and do away with these problems.  I believe we blame God for sin and its consequences caused by Satan and by those who believe His lies.  In addition, to the extent that these problems can be resolved, they are supposed to be resolved by Christians.  Christ is seen in people who claim to follow Him and sometimes we do not follow very closely.

I realize that most of us see things through our own experiences and biases.  If we look for a reason to criticize God and reject Him, we will find it.  Some of the reasons may be excuses rather than reasons; but in some cases, it would be easy for me to understand why certain people in certain circumstances and living in certain countries would question the goodness of the God I serve.  All I can say is that while people who call themselves Christians have not always brought joy to my heart, there are many who have.  And often it is people who act like Christians who cause us to praise the Lord for His goodness.  Paul in Romans 16:13 writes, “ Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.”  Rufus was likely the son of the man who was compelled to bear the Lord’s cross after he could no longer do it.   Mark 15:21 says, “Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.”   Rufus was chosen of the Lord which seems to mean in this case that the Lord saw him and his faith and service as something special.  His mother was special to Paul.  There is not much said about the mother of Rufus, but enough is said to know that she had “mothered” Paul.  No doubt she had caused Paul to rejoice in the Lord more than once.  This woman was important in Paul’s life and she was important as far as the Lord was concerned.  Her name is left on the pages of Scripture so that we can rejoice with Paul in the Lord’s goodness because of her.

I have come to the conclusion that the only person who can convince people that the Lord is good and worthy of praise is the Holy Spirit Himself.  When people are determined to criticize God, no argument is likely to change their minds.  Many of their arguments are understandable, but the arguments do not allow God to be God.  These are the arguments of those without faith.  But thank God for those who do want to thank the Lord for His goodness, for His wonderful works to the children of men.  And thank God for people like Rufus’ mother who the Holy Spirit uses to make God’s goodness real and practical.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of August 18, 2013

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