God’s Love Outlasts His Anger

I am moved by the words of Psalm 30:4-5: “Sing praise to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.  For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime.  Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

The psalm speaks of God’s anger, but it does so with a sharp comparison to God’s love: God’s anger is “but for a moment;” God’s love and favor are “for a lifetime.”

We truly only understand God’s anger by understanding God’s love.  In King’s Cross, Timothy Keller writes, “You may say, ‘I don’t like the idea of the wrath of God.  I want a God of love.’  The problem is that if you want a loving God, you have to have an angry God.  Please think about it.  Loving people can get angry, not in spite of their love but because of it.  In fact, the more closely and deeply you love people in your life, the angrier you can get.  Have you noticed that?  When you see people who are harmed or abused, you get mad…. Your senses of love and justice are activated together, not in opposition to each other.  If you see people destroying themselves or destroying other people and you don’t get mad, it’s because you don’t care.  You’re too absorbed in yourself, too cynical, too hard.  The more loving you are, the more ferociously angry you will be at whatever harms your beloved.  And the greater the harm, the more resolute your opposition will be.

“When we think of God’s wrath, we usually think of God’s justice, and that is right.  Those who care about justice get angry when they see justice being trampled upon, and we should expect a perfectly just God to do the same.  But we don’t ponder how much his anger is also a function of his love and goodness.  The Bible tells us that God loves everything he has made.  That’s one of the reasons he’s angry at what’s going on in his creation; he is angry at anything or anyone that is destroying the people and world he loves.  His capacity for love is so much greater than ours—and the cumulative extent of evil in the world is so vast—that the word wrath doesn’t really do justice to how God rightly feels when he looks at the world.  So it makes no sense to say, ‘I don’t want a wrathful God, I want a loving God.’  If God is loving and good, he must be angry at evil—angry enough to do something about it.” (p. 176-177)

God’s anger is an act of love.  As an act of love, it is temporary.  When anger completes its work of discipline and restoration it is finished.  What is permanent is God’s love.  God’s favor toward us will continue throughout our lifetime.  What we can count on through the whole span of our lives and into heaven is the certainty and permanence of God’s love for us!

Alexander Whyte expresses it well: “The love of Christ has no border; it has no shore; it has no bottom.  The love Christ is boundless; it is bottomless; it is infinite; it is divine…. We shall come to the shore, we shall strike the bottom of every other love; but never of the love of Christ!  You will never come to the length of it, or to the breadth of it, or to the depth of it, or to the height of it.  To all eternity, the love of Christ to you will be new!”

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