I am grateful for the first Bible study resources I encountered as a new believer. They were little books with fill in the blank/ short answer questions about the basic subjects of faith. I particularly remember one lesson about the character of God featuring three “onmi” words – omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Studying this helped me to grasp God’s sovereignty over every detail of world events and my own personal life. It is both comforting and anchoring to comprehend God’s complete control.
However, I had not realized, until a few weeks ago, there was a huge deficit in my understanding of God. As I read through the Bible, I found many other qualities which described God – his goodness, his jealousy, his generosity, and his love yet I somehow put those on the second tier a little below those three “omni” words. That was my subtle (unrecognized) thinking until our pastor used a word I had never heard – OMNIBENELOVENCE.
My faulty thinking is evidenced by my affinity for this particular C.S. Lewis quote. “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” I associate God’s sovereignty and best with unpleasant and difficult circumstances. In my experiences, God’s goodness has seemed overshadowed by His all- knowing, all-powerful plans that I was not privy to understanding.
Who gets to define “good” – me or God? Apparently, my knowledge of what is good and God’s are highly disparate. After all, God sent His own son into this world to be mocked and killed painfully on a cross. How can God be all good if He allows _______ to happen to __________?
Learning and meditating upon this new word –omnibenevolence– has enabled me to raise this aspect of God’s character up to the first tier (where it rightfully belongs). I understand that not realizing that God is all good does not change who He is and always will be. However, recognizing God is omnibenevolence changes me to better perceive His goodness in the midst of the painful and difficult circumstances in my life and the lives of those around me.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:28