I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honour me. (Psalm 50)
Our world and the experiences within it give conflicting evidence to our senses and minds, regarding goodness. We experience blessings and thank God, but then we see suffering beyond explanation or justification and brace for the uncertainty and pain of seeing it. To cling to His kindness in both joy and sadness seems like a selective understanding. On what experience or knowledge do we base our understanding that all things come from one Source, who acts with kindness and goodness, rather than coming partially from good and partially from evil? But even though we can’t explain that pain away in people’s experiences, and we need to do everything we can to heal suffering and injustice around us with compassion and selflessness, maybe we can’t consider our Maker to be cruel or neglectful.
Cruelty is an act of selfishness, in response to a need or impulse. When we talk about a Creator who is beyond nature and who therefore didn’t need to create us, but desired to, we find that He needs nothing from us or from anything. The finite world doesn’t exist because of some lack in the infinite God who sustains it. So creation, in itself, is not for His sake but it is an act of giving, of kindness, in creating us to be in His reality. I don’t know what that means in individual people’s lives, but cruelty, imperfect wisdom, and apathy aren’t a part of creation-from-nothing. He gives, and it’s not so that He can take. If someone did that, he would be finite, lacking and needing, and would not be the Maker we’re speaking about our God as. He just gives.
This doesn’t mean that we exist merely for our own sake. We’ve been given a relationship towards which thankfulness, worship, and trust are the true and real response. He chooses to desire us, and we owe our love to the Creator of our hearts, because He made us and because of His goodness. Being created means we’re in the role of a worshipper; it inherently means being given a gift that the Giver didn’t need for Himself to give. We can’t see clearly into what is happening in our world or in each person’s life, and we can’t peer into the ‘essence’ of who God is beyond what He reveals in His actions. Our hearts can come to love Him as our minds and our senses consider His actions in our lives, and learn to trust Him through a relationship with who He is, our God. And when it comes to many other things we’re silenced. But something we can’t say is that the source of all nature, who isn’t Himself a part of creation, has taken from us or has fulfilled some need in Himself using us. In making us and giving us life every moment, and every blessing in nature, relationships, and sweetness, there is kindness. I don’t know where God is in the moments of some experiences. But I know His hand isn’t set against us in hatred or as if He doesn’t care deeply for each part of our lives, as if creation were a selfish act to fill something lacking. We can, on the other hand, speak of kindness, especially when we feel it tangibly, and we can give thanks for it.
That is something to hold to with peace and thankfulness, in the quietness of waiting and of walking more close to His holiness and His love.