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  • Writer's picturemattlillicrap

All-Powerful

Updated: Apr 28, 2020



“I am the LORD, the God of mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32.27)

Do you ever look at a question like this and think, ‘Well, no… So, why this problem then?’

We’ve been pondering various features of God’s glory over the past few posts and taking refuge in them as the coronavirus outbreak has thrown our lives in the air and turned our world upside-down.

Every feature of God’s glory we could possibly reflect on is fundamental to who God is. He wouldn’t be God without each of them. Perhaps, though, one of the most obvious to us is that God is all-powerful. A God who isn’t powerful wouldn’t be God, and certainly wouldn’t be worth worshipping. We may as well be atheists before we deny God’s power.

But at the same time, it’s hard to understand isn’t it? It prompts that question; if God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he do something about this, or step in to stop that, or overcome this? In the midst of the Covid pandemic as thousands die and millions become infected, as jobs and homes are lost, and almost unimaginable economic havoc is wreaked, when you hear God ask ‘is anything too hard for me?’ isn’t there just a small part of you that says, ‘so why don’t you stop Covid then?’

That’s what I feel. I confess, I’ve been struggling. Seeing the impact on so many vulnerable people, missing out on seeing and worshipping with God's people (especially over Easter), not being able to encourage and spur one another on in person. It even feels as though part of our humanness has been taken away for a time.

Yet the question still rings through Scripture; “Is anything too hard for me?” It’s easy to grow a little cold on hearing it, but if we’ll pause for a moment, it can bring incredible comfort.

God’s power is often contrasted with human expectations of what is possible. Could Sarah really have a child at her old age? “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Could a rich person really turn away from something which grips our hearts so powerfully to enter the kingdom of God? Isn’t that harder than a camel going through the eye of a needle? “With humans this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Just like his unchanging nature, God’s power is vital to our ability to trust him. When we make promises, we cannot give 100% guarantees that we will be able to fulfil them. That promised trip to the seaside this Easter has been snatched away because we don’t have the power to overcome a virus-induced lockdown. But God is all-powerful. When he promises something it is impossible that he will not do it. So we can cling to his promises when everything else is swirling in uncertainty

Power like that would be terrible news on its own. A being with absolute power to do whatever it wished would be potentially tyrannical, and certainly a terror. But the wonderful truth is that God’s power is always entirely according to his nature. God is good and holy and just and merciful. God’s power is good holy and just and merciful. God is love. God’s power is a loving-power, and his love is a powerful-love.

In other words, there are always some things which God can’t do in his power. He can’t act in a way that is out of line with his perfect character. He couldn’t lie, or be cruel, for example. Some might argue that this means he can’t be all-powerful. In fact, though, it increases our sense of awe at God’s power, because it demonstrates just how pure and total it is. He has complete power to be everything that he is at full volume all the time. There is no conflict within him rendering him impotent.

Compare us. I may want to be kind and caring. But I don’t have the power to act fully according to that desire. Other powers are at work in me, and I am both limited and fallen. I compromise and do or say unkind things. But God’s power means that nothing outside of his perfection can influence him. What he wills to do is perfect, and he does what he wills because he has the power to do it.

So, God’s power helps us to trust his promises. When he says he will complete the good work he has begun in us, he has the power to do that, whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

But why, then, doesn’t he do what we wish he might do, and intervene to change those circumstances? The answer is wrapped up with how God acts in his power.

God’s power means he could do anything according to his perfect nature. But it does not mean that he chooses to everything he could do. He has absolute power, yes, but we experience his willed-power.

We celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago. Could God have stopped that? Could he have intervened to spare Jesus from the cross? Of course. But he chose not to because his plan was to accomplish something even more incredible. In the weakness and scandal of the cross his power shines brightest as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.

So we must work hard not to try and live in an imagined world of God’s absolute power, thinking of all the things he could do, and constantly questioning why he doesn’t. That would be to raise our limited knowledge and fallen wills up against his perfect knowledge and will. And the real world is a whole lot better!

In the real world of God’s willed-power, he uses some of the most ordinary means to accomplish extraordinary things. He takes ordinary speech and communicates himself through his word to call us to himself and build us up. He takes fallen humans and puts us together in something called church to drive us forward in loving Christ and one another. And he takes hard things, even the current pandemic with all its frustrations and griefs and uses them to shape trophies of his grace to better reflect his glory and show his worth.

This is power we can rest in, power we can trust, and power worthy of all our worship and devotion. I’m praying that our experience of the Covid pandemic would deepen that trust, worship and devotion measure upon measure.

Onwards, to glory!

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