Knowing the Aseity of God through Suffering, Part 2

Written by Mark Farnham

On February 9, 2022

See Part 1 here.

In his book, The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis beautifully describes in a fictional encounter how God will help us make sense of our suffering when we finally see Him. “This is what mortals misunderstand,” says one man to another. “They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into glory…The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven…And that is why at the end of things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven.”[1]

I love that phrase, “heaven will work backwards.” It is not simply that God will make all things right in the end, but even more, that God will show us how every moment of suffering contributed to the plan God has for our suffering. It will all make sense someday. And we will agree with God that it was good. Paul rests in that assurance when he says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” (2 Corinthians 4:17). How can God be so sure of this? Because all he is and all he does comes from within himself. No one can prevent this eternal weight of glory from coming. 

In fact, all of God’s promises are assured by his aseity. Because God depends on nothing outside himself to make sure his promises are kept (Heb. 10:), no one can thwart his plans.

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord (Prov. 21:30 NIV).

The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. (Psa. 33:10-11)

Since God needs nothing outside himself to fulfill his promises, then I can rest in the fact that all my suffering is for a purpose.

A second implication of aseity is that God’s love comes from within himself. Contrary to popular belief, God does not love us because he saw our inherent worth and felt compelled to love us and save us. That would make God’s love dependent on us and our supposed worth. True, we have dignity and vestiges of glory because we are made in God’s image. But the origin of God’s love is in his very nature, as we discussed previously. Part of God’s essential nature is to overflow with love, since he is love (1 John 4:8, 16). God loves us, then, because that is just who God is, not because of anything in us.

In the Old Testament God had to remind Israel of this truth repeatedly, because they kept slipping into the mindset that God loved them because they were worthy of his love.

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:7–8)

Since God loves us because of who He is, and not because of who we are, therefore, we can rest in God’s love and not feel like we must perform or endure our suffering with a smile on our faces at all times. The truth is, sometimes our suffering will bring out the worst in us. We may despair, doubt God, and get angry at Him. We may get angry, bitter, and mean. We may snap at others, lose our testimony, and curse in frustration. 

God’s aseity means that He will continue to love us unabated, because His love springs from within, not from our own loveliness. God loves us at our worst because he is always at his best; unchanging because all that makes Him lovely to us comes from within himself.

[1] C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce in The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2002), 503.

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