Many people think of God as a harsh, frowning figure who sits watching us with grim, disapproving eyes. This is a somber, gloomy reading of life. Many of us are inclined to the belief that life is basically and essentially unkind because we think that God is hard and critical of us. A great deal of this comes from the thinking of the ancient Greeks, who could never come to believe that their gods were kind and friendly. In the ancient account of Prometheus, the Greeks gave their idea of a reluctant God. Prometheus brought the divine fire to earth, but it was not willingly given to humanity. Prometheus had to steal it, and for his act was punished by the angry deities. We speak of stealing a few minutes of peace, stealing a few minutes of happiness. We think that good things are wrested from life and God only by sheer effort and careful scheming.
Jesus does not support this idea. He does not, of course, close his eyes to the heavy, hard aspect of life. He recognizes the stern demands of crosses and equally the harsh hurt of trouble. “Take thy cross,” he says to his disciples. “In the world, ye shall have tribulation,” he warns. But with all, Jesus recognized that at its heart, life has a kindness because God is good and kind. He saw everywhere signs of a tender, willing hand of love outstretched, showering blessings upon a world which God has made and in which he maintains final control.