Knowing the Aseity of God through Suffering, Part 1

Written by Mark Farnham

On February 7, 2022

“Hmmm…excuse me for a minute. I need to step out of the room.” The ultrasound tech had been tasked with imaging my transplanted kidney to make sure that the surgery to remove the pituitary tumor at the base of my brain would be safe for the kidney. Kidney transplants are usually placed just below the waist on the right side in the front where there is a natural pocket next to the bladder. While she moved the jelly-slickened wand over the area I remembered that I had been having a very slight pain in my belly, just under my navel, for the last few months. The sensation was almost imperceptible and only intruded into my consciousness every so often.

I asked if she could image the spot where I had been feeling the discomfort, so she moved the wand over a few inches. I had been watching the screen and when the image shifted to my abdomen, the picture on the screen was unmistakable. There was very clearly a mass of some kind visible. She quickly excused herself and disappeared. I lay there in shock. I knew where she had gone without her saying a word. What seemed like hours later, but in reality, was only a few minutes, she returned with a doctor. He repeated the scan and informed me what I already knew. The next step, he said, was to have a biopsy to determine the nature of the mass.

When I think about that day—one of many “bad days” in the cancer journey, I am reminded of the nature of medicine. It is an interdependent discipline, with doctors, techs, researchers, device and equipment manufacturers, and many others working together, because no one person has the knowledge or expertise to diagnose or treat disease on his own. Every professional in the chain, from diagnosis to treatment depends on thousands of others and the collected wisdom of hundreds of years. The network of dependency and cooperation is beyond comprehension.

This is not true of God. God needs nothing outside himself and depends on nothing other than himself. This is the doctrine of aseity. God has within himself all knowledge, power, wisdom, and more. He needs nothing from his creation or his creatures. 

In paganism the gods need the sacrifices of the people, so when the people fail to maintain the prescribed worship, the gods retaliate with natural disasters as retribution. The gods need the people as much as the people need their gods (Isa. 44:15-17). Paul explains in Acts 17 that God needs nothing from his creation.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24–25)

In contrast to these pagan gods, Yahweh God needs nothing from us. There is nothing we can give him that he does not already have. Nothing outside of God determines who he is. There is no being or existence from which derives his being. He is in himself, all that he is. 

Aseity has a couple of implications. For one, God’s infinite power is fully contained within himself. He never has to call upon anyone else to help him. He has no limitations that compel him to turn to outside sources to overcome any circumstances. God has within himself all the power he needs to heal you and completely reverse the circumstances of your suffering. God does not need to join with other deities to fix your circumstances. He has all the authority and power he needs within himself to deliver you. And he will do so ultimately in a way that we will not simply have our suffering removed, but he will actually reverse our suffering.

In Part 2 we will look at how God reverses our suffering.

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