Maribel was ecstatic when she heard Compassion was helping add classrooms to the small church where her Child Sponsorship Program was located in Bolivia. Now she and her friends could attend without the distractions of overcrowding. When asked why that meant so much to her, Maribel said, “We are learning more than before. We like learning about God and how he loves us.”
When children join Compassion’s program, they start to understand who God is and what he is like. But learning about God’s attributes isn’t just for children. Even the most basic grasp of God’s characteristics provides comfort in hard times and compels us to love and serve those in need.
More than anything, the Bible makes it clear that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). He isn’t just loving, but he is the very definition of love. He loves us because he created us. His affection is unconditional. He both generates and demonstrates love — and that love endures forever (Psalm 100:5). With Valentine’s Day approaching and our thoughts turning toward love, we wanted to consider a few other godly attributes that demonstrate his love for us.
God Is Always Present
Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Paul wrote that God’s Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). In the Psalms, David proclaimed it impossible to escape God’s presence (Psalm 139). In other words, the Creator is not bound by his creation. He is fully present wherever we go, and his Spirit even lives inside us. As Hebrews 4:13 says, “nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.”
Knowing this means so much for believers, especially those facing difficulties. Sponsored children learn that no matter who they are or where they live, God is with them. This comforts those experiencing the isolation of poverty. Living in dark, tiny homes, they may spend hours alone as their parents try to earn money. Some may even have been orphaned. The knowledge that God loves them and is always with them can lift their spirits. Imagine the confidence boost when a child hears that God is present when they are sad and when they are happy. He loves them and will never abandon them.
God Is Just
Scripture declares over and over that “all [God’s] ways are just” (Deuteronomy 32:4). The Psalmist wrote, “the Lord loves righteousness and justice” (Psalm 33:5). God’s holiness and righteousness mean his judgments are also always fair. This attribute found fulfillment in the life of Jesus, who confronted the Pharisees over their neglect of justice and lack of generosity toward the poor (Luke 11:42).
Because God is just, the Bible insists that his children should strive to make right that which is wrong. “Learn to do right; seek justice,” the Lord told Isaiah in a vision. “Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). This forms the heart of our work within a larger, worldwide effort to seek justice for the suffering and the vulnerable. You are part of those efforts, too! Child advocacy is just one way for the global Church to address the injustices that have left so many in poverty. We join these efforts because we serve a God who is just.
God Is Faithful
At the heart of all God’s actions in our world is his faithfulness. This means he keeps his promises. Scripture applies those promises to countless parts of our lives, from his promise to protect us from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13) to his promise to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9). His faithfulness is never temporary but endures forever, “through all generations” (Psalm 119:90).
As Christ followers and child advocates, we take enormous comfort in this faithfulness, because so many of God’s promises occur in the context of his love for those who live in poverty. He promises to bless those who give (Deuteronomy 15:10). The Bible says a generous person will prosper (Proverbs 11:25) and kindness to the poor will be rewarded (Proverbs 19:17). But God’s faithfulness extends beyond any earthly transactions. It also applies to our eternal hope and his promise of a coming kingdom. We may live in an unreliable and untrustworthy world, but we serve a faithful God who keeps his word.
God Is Good
Like the attribute of love, God’s goodness is often considered one of his most significant characteristics — one that informs all the others. The Bible describes this trait in a variety of ways, using words like “kindness” (Romans 2:4, Romans 11:22) or “compassionate and gracious” (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:15). When the rich young ruler called Jesus “good teacher,” Jesus replied that no one was truly good “except God alone” (Mark 10:18). Reflecting on this attribute, the Psalmist invited us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
God is also the source of goodness. For the children we serve, that goodness provides security. We know as believers that God “works for the good” of those who love him (Romans 8:28). This comforts believers no matter where they live, from families enduring the trials of poverty to those facing illnesses, lost jobs or an uncertain future. Many of the families we serve may struggle to find food or water. They may battle a chronic illness. But in the face of desperate circumstances, they remember that God is good. His kindness gives them hope. Through our work and the generosity of sponsors, these families experience a taste of his goodness.
God is Sovereign
“Sovereignty” is a big word, but the idea behind it — that God is in control, and that nothing in our lives happens outside his knowledge or permission — brings great comfort to those who are going through hard times. He oversees the natural world (Job 37). He cultivates national rulers (Daniel 2:21). He directs our steps (Jeremiah 10:23). He even uses suffering to accomplish his purposes (Romans 8:28).
Power alone isn’t necessarily a source of comfort. But with God, that power rests in the hands of a loving Father. Not only does he wants what is best for his children, he also knows and understands human suffering — because his son, Jesus, endured it. And God promises to deliver his children from their fears and afflictions: “The poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6).
It’s hard for most adults to wrap their minds around God’s attributes, and teaching concepts like God’s sovereignty or benevolence to children can be a challenge in any setting. But these elements of his character don’t just help us know him better. They help us achieve our full potential in him.
As we think about love this month — and as we serve a God whose love is unfailing — we are reminded that who God is informs everything we do as believers and in our ministry, as we help children reach their God-given potential outside the grip of poverty.
Photos by Lina Marcela Alarcón Molina, Galia Oropeza and J. Sangma