Kindness

I have been struggling with the Lord’s goodness.

As I’m holding my sleepy almost-two-year-old in a room lit by the soft glow of a nightlight, she rests her head on my shoulder and says, “Pray!”

It’s our nightly routine. This routine has become more poignant over time; it feels like the laundry list of people to pray for is endless, and it continues to grow.

And the list is so repetitive. Prayers against cancer are riddled throughout… So many are afflicted. Prayers for family members left in the wake of suffering and loss.

Comfort and Healing. Comfort and Healing. Comfort and Healing. The prayers have become rote.

I was going through this prayer list while driving recently, and honestly, I was feeling defeated.

“Do you even care, Lord? Where are you?” Thoughts zooming a mile a minute.

A song interrupted my thoughts; it is simply titled, “Kind” by Amanda Cook. These are the lyrics:

You are not a tyrant King
You do not delight in suffering
Your power doesn’t compensate for insecurity
‘Cause You are not a tyrant King

You are not an angry man
You do not treat us with contempt
Your voice is sure, Your eyes are soft, Your smile, confident
‘Cause You are not an angry man

You are kind
You are kind
You are kind
You are kind

Your love is a fury all its own
Sweeping the dust and turning feet towards home
Carrying the orphans and resetting broken bones
Your love is a fury all its own

You are kind
You are kind
You are kind
You are kind
You are kind
You are kind
You are kind
You are kind

And love is powerful enough
Without the fear of punishment
And love is powerful enough
Without the fear of punishment

(Copyright 2015, Amanda Cook, Bethel Music)

I broke. Tears I had walled up for a long time now ran in rivers.

I was reminded that our God, our Father, is kind.

I hadn’t only begun to wonder if God was absent; in that moment, I realized I had begun to wonder if He was cruel. If He was inflicting this pain, this suffering, on my dear friends and my family on purpose.

I’m going to tell you right now that God does not delight in suffering. He is not a mean-spirited child looming above helpless creatures with a magnifying glass. He is kind.

In A. W. Tozer’s book, The Knowledge of the Holy, he states, “The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men [and women]. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By His nature, He is inclined to bestow blessedness, and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people. That God is good is taught or implied on every page of the Bible and must be received as an article of faith as impregnable as the throne of God.” (Emphasis mine.)

Whoa, wait – Tozer is claiming that God’s goodness is as sure and sturdy as His holiness, as His very throne!

Doesn’t that allow you to breathe a little deeper?

Can you picture the kindness of God in the pages of the bible? Jesus dripped with kindness. The parable of the Samaritan. The woman at the well. Mary washing His feet with her hair.

He turned water into wine at a wedding! What a beautiful image of relationship – our holy, mighty God-made-flesh choosing to use His power for celebration and community.

And the ultimate: dying horrifically for you and for me.

In the words of Joni Eareckson Tada: “He went without comfort so you might have it. He postponed joy so you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow.”

What other king leaves a throne to walk and live and hurt among those who hate and mock Him?

Emmanuel. God with us. It’s truly beautiful… A balm to the soul.

Why is that so hard for me to believe sometimes?

I am an emotional being. I worry. I despair. I am human; this comes with the territory. I have to constantly grasp Perspective, I have to constantly use scripture to quell and quiet the lies that threaten to overwhelm.

The favorite for a while has been Philippians 4:6-9: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

This passage challenges me and reminds me to keep purposefully turning my heart toward Jesus and His beautiful character proven over and over in each bible story.

The author of Philippians, Paul, urges us to not be anxious about anything and to give it all to the Lord.

Sounds impossible. You want me to not worry? In this world? Not happening.

But Paul doesn’t stop there – it’s almost like he is saying, when you do worry, give those worries to God and He will give you His peace instead.

A very dear friend of mine always says some variation of “God will always allow you to trade up”; basically, when you give something to God, what you leave with will always be better than what you came with. He will outgive you every time.

We give Him our worries, He gives us His peace.

Count me in.

Paul goes on to give us another way to keep God’s peace with us: think only on true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy things. Perhaps this list is the antithesis of worry?

I don’t know about you, but I fall short there. I lean into worry sometimes. It’s comfortable. It gives me a semblance of control. Silly human.

This makes it near impossible to ignore lies that try to creep inside, those that threaten to overwhelm when I begin to entertain them. They lurk and they prowl and they wait in my worry.

But when I can think on true and noble things, when I remember to praise God in the midst of the unknowns because I have seen His character time and time again, and it is kind, only then will I be able to recognize and claim that beautiful peace that makes no worldly sense.

I pray this passage over you as you practice relinquishing the comfortable familiarity of worry and grab hold of our kind God’s glorious peace:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Originally written for sweetlyredeemed.com on July 11, 2019.

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