Read part one here.
I’ve heard it said (though I can’t remember where) that if we only knew these three attributes of God, you would be set for the rest of your life. Whoever said that is absolutely right. If we really meditated on these three characteristics of God day and night, if we really sat down and considered them prayerfully, we would truly live a peaceful, restful, joyful Christian life, unencumbered by fear or worry. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Especially in our hectic, fast-paced lives.
Think of it: peace, rest, joy, contentment — we’re called as Christians to produce all these things, even in a culture filled with darkness: devoid of any understanding of God.
What are these characteristics? God’s Sovereignty, Wisdom, and Goodness. Knowing these three attributes of God is more than enough to keep us anchored and secure. They provide the foundation we need to grow and serve Him as his disciples.
First of all, however, in order to truly know God, He must save you from your sins and bring you into his family. You must have a right relationship with Him. You and I have broken His law, so we, in fact, are rebellious lawbreakers, and God has made it crystal clear in His Word that we deserve His punishment in Hell. The only way to be saved from your sin is to come to Him the way He demands — believing that Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to pay your massive sin debt. Jesus did it all. You must take him at His word. If you repent, that is, hate and turn from your life of sin, and truly believe this message, you are saved.
If there be consolation anywhere, surely it is to be found in the delightful presence of the Crucified. Ordinary mourners … sip at sorrow’s bowl, but he drains it dry.
Now that you have believed, you are called to devote your life to trusting and serving God. But how can you trust someone you don’t know? That’s why we’re going to briefly look at God’s Sovereignty, Wisdom, and Goodness.
God is Sovereign
Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.
If you find yourself in a battle with depression today, understanding God’s sovereignty is critical. If God is sovereign, there are no limits to God’s rule. This is part of what it means to be God. He is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it. He is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. And in Christ, God’s awesome, sovereign providence is the place we feel most joyful, most secure, most free.
Have you ever had a coach, a teacher, someone lead you and it was clear he had no control? He couldn’t get anyone to do anything that he wanted. He was a weak leader and everything was chaos around him.
Not so with God. There isn’t a single molecule in all of the universe outside of his control and authority. All answer to Him. Everything is in his power.
Whenever God acts, He acts in a way that pleases him. God is never forced to do something that He doesn’t like. He is never backed into a corner where his only recourse is to do something He hates to do. He does whatever He pleases. We rejoice knowing that all authority in the universe belongs to Him. Your depressed self needs to know that God is ruling and reigning and no one — not the world, not Satan, not your job — can challenge Him.¹
God is Wise
If God was just sovereign, He could be a scary God. He could be a complete, fly-off-the-handle, shoot-from-the-hip tyrant. But God is also wise. Your depressed self needs to know this!
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
God’s wisdom is His perfect understanding of how to act skillfully, expertly, and brilliantly so that He will accomplish all His good pleasure — to glorify Himself. He chooses the best goals and the best way to carry out those goals.
He was wise in creation, He’s wise in our salvation, He’s wise in carrying world history on where He wants it to go, and He’s wise in our individual lives (Ro. 8:28). Everything, everything, everything that happens in our lives, every difficult circumstance and everything good doesn’t come randomly. It comes from a God who knows you and knows everything about everything and the best way to carry out everything.²
We do lots of things without skill. Without precision. We don’t know the future, we don’t know every detail. We aren’t informed about all the possibilities. We have to literally Google everything. I don’t always know what’s best for Carson — sometimes I make bad decisions, like give Him chocolate even though he’ll get diarrhea. God doesn’t do that. He knows every detail, every person in our circle, every possible outcome, and chooses the best for us.
When we suffer, the suffering God has allowed is wise! It is skillful, precise, expert suffering.
We rightly wonder why God allows depression and other suffering. But let us also wonder why He chooses to suffer it with us and for us.
Every day in our lives, we can calm our discouragement with the comfort that comes from knowing that God has infinite wisdom: If we are His children, we can know that he is working wisely, carefully, meticulously in our lives, even today, to make us look more like Christ, and therefore, have more joy.
God is Good
If God was only sovereign and wise, he could be really, really, super-stinking good at hurting us. But God’s not that way. He is sovereign, wise, and good.
The people in your life aren’t always going to choose the best thing for you. People are selfish. But God is so content in Himself, God is so satisfied in His Son Jesus, God is so rich in love and glory, that He chooses to be good to those whom he saves. It’s His nature
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
God is the source of all our blessings (James 1:17). God is the source of all that’s good in the world (Ps. 145:9; Acts 14:17). All that He does deserves praise and honor. When God acts, no one can truthfully say: “Eh, that’s bad.” He is the highest good for man, the aim of all who work for true goodness. God is the ultimate good, the ultimate positive that we seek (Ps. 73:25).
We’re told that, for His children, those that are His, God only does good (Ps. 84:11; Ro. 8:32; Matt. 7:11). Even when he disciplines us, it’s an example of His goodness (Heb. 12:10). God’s disposition towards us is always a good one.³
Have you ever been around someone whose attitude about you changes from one day to another? God’s not like that. For Christians, because God’s anger was poured out on Jesus at the cross, God’s attitude toward you is gracious and kind. He’s always looking out for what’s best for you…not because you’re awesome and great, but so that his grace can be on display for all to see.
Take it Home
Folks, as hard as it is to fathom, the key to a joyful life is to stop idolizing happiness. The key to a satisfied life is to stop making your life about money. The key to a thrilling, vibrant, Christian life is to take your eyes off of yourself and know God and love Him.
Scripture is abundantly clear that the God of the Bible is the answer for the man, woman, or teen struggling with depression. Not simply medication. Not yoga, not “positive thinking” or “self-esteem.” Those things offer temporary relief of symptoms, at least sometimes.
But it is only the sovereign, all-wise, and perfectly good God who can truly satisfy the needs of any hurting man, woman or child. Only the one true God as revealed in scripture will one day wipe away every tear…
1.Macarthur, John; Biblical Doctrine.
3. Grudem, Wayne; Systematic Theology.