Our Longing for Omnipotence

imagesIn his book, A Great and Terrible Love,[1] Mark Galli says something I find very interesting about omnipotence. He says that if God were not omnipotent, we’d invent omnipotence and pin the attribute on him. And the reason, he says, is that we long for omnipotence. The more I think about it, the more I think he is onto something. I found this passage in something I wrote years ago, but it illustrates my point (since, after all, we have just celebrated Christmas):

Yesterday was our annual pilgrimage to the Christmas tree farm, an event that we look forward to every year. The kids love to run around in the snow (or rain as it was yesterday), ducking in and out of bushes and jumping over the stream that runs through the property. Ethel and her mom walk every inch of the farm, sizing up each tree, before a decision can be made and a tree cut down. And what was I doing on this magical day? I was being a grump. I was in a bad mood and I’m not even sure why. To make matters worse, there was nothing I could really do to change myself. I tried to be patient, only to lose it as my youngest started throwing a fit because he had dirt on his hands. I tried to find joy in God’s creation, only to be annoyed that Ethel was taking so long. I find myself longing to be different, longing to change. And the reality is I can’t change myself –I am just not strong enough.

But, my longing for omnipotence isn’t just confined to my own selfishness. We live in a world that currently is not the way it is supposed to be. A friend’s two-year old child is struck with a fatal disease. Doctors, as good as they are, can do nothing as the child’s bodily functions begin to shut down. Our technology isn’t strong enough to cure this precious little boy—and less then a year after his initial diagnosis, he is gone.[2] More generally, we regularly witness suffering and injustice in the world. And we are powerless to stop much of it. Just consider how vulnerable man is in the face of the sheer power of nature or how unequipped we often are to stop the injustice of the evil of our age (in the form of slavery, sexual trafficking of children, drug smuggling, and so on).

As Galli says, “We long for a power to heal us inside and out, for goodness to reach into the depths of our souls, for justice to rule to the ends of the earth. And we locate that power in God…. We long for unparalleled divine power because we are only too aware of our unmitigated weakness”[3]

We long for a God who is able to change us, to make wrongs right, and to protect us in the hard times life inevitably brings our way. The good news is that the Bible reveals a God of power. And we are invited to rest in that power of God, the topic of my post next week.

For my post on understanding divine omnipotence, see here.











[1] Mark Galli, A Great and Terrible Love: A Spiritual Journey Into The Attributes Of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009).

 [2] To read the heart-wrenching story of Judson, written by his mom, see Christina Levasheff, Eyes That See: Judson’s Story of Hope in Suffering (Tate Publishing Enterprises).

[3] Ibid., 31-32.

2 Responses to Our Longing for Omnipotence

  1. Pingback: Resting in the Power of God | Paul Gould

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