When we have those moments where we finally realize that something we have prayed for has been granted, that is the power of God. When we realize that what could have been a fatal illness, wasn't, that what could have been a horrific accident wasn't, that we have children who lived, that we have a job, that we are surviving somehow without one, all of these things are evidences of the power of God. "Escapes from death come from the Lord," the Psalmist tells us. Some of those escapes we know about, some we will discover when we get to heaven, how the Lord spared us and we didn't even know.
King David seemed to be a man who lived in the most immediate awareness of the power of God, the prophets did, and the Apostles. We seem to be in a moment of Christian culture where the narrative we seek is one of constant, consistent, forgiving, grace giving love. The power narrative seems to be associated with hell, fire, and brimstone. Power seems a negative thing if we envision a God of judgment, retribution, punishment, and intolerance. Imagine that, an intolerant God?
Such a selective Gospel is short sighted, ultimately anemic and weak. Grace is nothing if not the power of mercy unleashed on those who had no power to change themselves.
Without the power of God there is no hope for there can be no rational basis for it. How can we be delivered from sin, the Devil, and death without the power of God?
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lord comes
escape from death." (Psalm 68:19-20) NIV
The concept of the power of God is troubling, since if he has all power, is Almighty, is omnipotent, then why doesn't he use it like we think he should, when we think he should? None of us seem to mind the power of God to deliver us, to heal us, to forgive us, to provide for us. We mind it, that is we disapprove of it, when he seems stingy with it, or uses it in what we think is an immoral fashion such as killing people we think are innocent, destroying trailer parks, washing away villages, possibly unleashing the dogs of war.
We don't always connect the dots wherein the judgment of God is revealed against evil, and evil men, by allowing them to be consumed with their own sins, giving them up to wickedness, and essentially allowing humans to be as bad as they want to be. We don't realize when judgment is already come, we caricature the placarded fanatic who in the face of Godzilla stomping on Japan cries out for people to repent. I imagine a movie where he meets souls on the way to judgment saying, "I told you so." We create segmented theologies where God is powerful for good things, but "my god would never do that" is our refrain when events go south. Well, maybe your god would never do that because your god really has no power, he either has all of it or he isn't God.
"Surely god will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins." (Psalm 68:21)
We are told to proclaim the power of God, and in that truth and reality is all our hope. The Gospel is not simply a work of His love but an exercise of his power. It is the hope of the poor,
"Sing to God, sing praises to his name,
extol him who rides on the
his name is the Lord-
and rejoice before him.
A father to the fatherless, a defender
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads forth the prisoners with
but the rebellious live in a sun-
scorched land." (Psalm 68: 4-6) NIV
What is lacking in not God's power but our faith, and that is why Paul prays for believers to be "enlightened." When it is dark light is what we need, and faith gives us light to see beyond our temporal and circumstantial darkness. If God is powerful why does it seem Evil moves so powerfully ahead, why is my life a mess, why are my prayers unanswered? In the face of God's power we come to this conclusion about ourselves; we are not as powerful as He. We are not omnipotent, and neither are we omniscient. In short, we are to proclaim something by faith about which we only know a part. We don't know all the "whys" and "why not-s." Certainly not now in this life will we ever know all the whys and wherefores, but we know Whom, and we must not shrink from believing in His mighty power for if we do all is lost. It would have been lost for David against Goliath, lost for David against Saul, lost for Daniel against the lions, lost for the three Hebrew boys in the furnace. "Our God is able to deliver us, but even if he doesn't we will not bow down," they said. I think they could say that since they lived in the awareness of his power and his faithfulness to use it in their behalf. So, I proclaim it to you, and may our God give us power not to forget it in the day of trouble.